No. 5 Ohio State bounces back, rout Southeast Missouri State

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was interested to see how his team would bounce back after suffering its first loss of the season on Sunday at Minnesota.

Holtmann was not impressed, however, after his Buckeyes committed 13 first-half turnovers and led struggling Southeast Missouri State by just nine points at halftime.

But the fifth-ranked Buckeyes pulled it together with a commanding 22-2 second-half run and pulled away for an 80-48 victory over the visiting Redhawks.

“I’m frustrated with the turnovers,” Holtmann said. “I’m disappointed and frustrated, and we’ve got to figure out how to correct it. But I also recognize we had some youth out there, too.”

Kaleb Wesson scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Ohio State (10-1), which dropped two spots in the AP Top 25 after the loss to Minnesota.

“We just weren’t playing Ohio State basketball,” Wesson said of his team’s play at Minnesota, as well as the first half against Southeast Missouri State. “We had to get out of our own way a little bit. We needed to go back to having fun.”

Andre Wesson scored 14 points, while Kyle Young and D.J. Carton each had 10 points for the Buckeyes.

D.Q. Nicholas and Isaiah Gable each had 10 points for Southeast Missouri State (3-8), which shot 27% from the floor (16 of 60) in losing its fourth straight game.

“There’s a reason they are a top-five team,” Southeast Missouri State coach Rick Ray said. “I imagine they will stay that way with all the weapons they have and how locked in they are defensively.”

Ohio State hit 64% of its shots from the floor (14 of 22) in the first half. But the Buckeyes only led 35-26 at the break because of turnovers.

“We didn’t play with enough force and strength in the first half,” Holtmann said. “It was passing, catching, feeding the post, catching with one hand or we didn’t run the right play and we ran into bodies. It’s all stuff we need to work through.”

The teams traded baskets to start the second half before Ohio State went on a 22-2 run. Carton hit two 3s while Luther Muhammad and Kaleb Wesson each hit one during the burst, and Young and Andre Wesson each had three-point plays as the Buckeyes went ahead 59-30 with 11:33 left.

Andre Wesson hit three 3-pointers in a 90-second span to push the lead to 78-40 with 3:15 remaining.

The Buckeyes hope to carry momentum from the second half into Saturday’s showdown with No. 6 Kentucky in Las Vegas.

“I feel like tonight helped us get back in our rhythm,” Kaleb Wesson said. “We hit shots. We were finding the open man in the second half. But you don’t know till you get in those big games and guys are pulling through in those situations.”

BIG PICTURE

Southeast Missouri State: This has been a rough 1-6 stretch for the Redhawks, who have not played a home game since Nov. 22. Southeast Missouri State has one more road game before getting back home against Missouri Baptist on Dec. 29.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes will need to be at their best as they play three ranked teams among their next four games. Getting the injured Washington back to ease the offensive burden will help.

INJURIES

Ohio State played its second straight game without sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr., who was sidelined with an apparent rib injury. Washington is the team’s second leading scorer at 11.4 points per game. His status remains unclear for Saturday’s game against Kentucky.

“I don’t know right now,” Holtmann said. “He is still day-to-day. He could not have played today. He has been out a significant amount. He has not done anything significant in practice since the Penn State game (on Dec. 7).”

Kaleb Wesson also was banged up. He suffered a knee injury early in Tuesday’s game. Later, he sustained a busted lip and a slight ankle sprain.

UP NEXT

Southeast Missouri State: At Southern Illinois on Saturday.

Ohio State: Plays No. 6 Kentucky in Las Vegas on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.