Garrett’s career-high 24 points lead No. 3 KU past Oklahoma

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Marcus Garrett has carved out a reputation at Kansas as one of the nation’s best defenders, the kind of consummate leader and team-first player just about every team with national title aspirations needs on its roster.

He wasn’t known as a particularly good 3-point shooter until Saturday.

Dared to shoot from beyond the arc by Oklahoma, the junior guard responded by knocking down a career-high six 3s to highlight a virtuoso performance. Garrett finished with a career-best 24 points, added seven assists, five rebounds and four steals, and led the third-ranked Jayhawks to an 87-70 rout that keeps them in the running for the Big 12 title.

“Coach has been saying for about two weeks now, when I’m open I have to take it,” Garrett said. “I don’t really care about how the defense is playing. I know what we’re trying to do offensively. I just took the shots that were there.”

His barrage opened up things for the rest of the Jayhawks.

“Obviously if Marcus makes six 3s we’ll be hard to deal with,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “That was probably the best offensive game he’s had since he’s been here.”

RELATED: CollegeBasketballTalk’s latest bracketology

Udoka Azubuike took advantage of newfound real estate in the paint to pile up 15 points and 17 rebounds. Devon Dotson found lanes the basket and scored 19 points. Ochai Agbaji took advantage of the sagging defense to score 10, all helping the Jayhawks (22-3, 11-1) win their 10th straight since falling to top-ranked Baylor in early January.

Kristian Doolittle had 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead Oklahoma (16-9, 6-6), but the senior forward needed 20 field-goal attempts to get there. Austin Reaves added 12 points, while leading scorer Brady Manek dealt with early foul trouble and was held to seven points and 1-for-6 shooting from the arc.

“They’ve had really good defensive teams. It’s not like they haven’t been good,” said Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, whose team has lost 19 straight in the Phog. “But this team is really good. They’re really together. They react to each other well. They have lots of length at the rim. They’re a really good defensive team. Good in other areas too.”

As expected, the Sooners spent the first half slumping into the paint, trying to keep Azubuike and fellow big man David McCormack from getting easy looks at the rim. As a result, they backed off the 3-point line and dared Garrett – who shot just 29 percent there coming into the game – to begin hoisting up shots.

He finally did. And he made Oklahoma pay.

Garrett knocked down a trio of first-half 3-pointers, including one that capped a 17-5 surge over the final 8 minutes and gave Kansas a 41-32 lead at the break. That barrage forced Oklahoma to begin guarding the perimeter, and that opened for Dotson lanes to the basket, and the Jayhawks’ big men began working with their backs to the basket.

Garrett didn’t just do it with his shooting, either. One of the nation’s best defenders also had steals on back-to-back possessions late in the half, leading to easy run-outs and layups that crushed Oklahoma’s confidence.

“It was very critical,” Doolittle said. “It wasn’t the intensity we wanted.”

Kansas kept its momentum going with a 12-2 run to start the the second half, only for the Sooners to make their lone big run of the game. Manek finally got a couple of shots to drop, and McCormack and Tristan Enaruna committed offensive fouls on consecutive possessions for Kansas, allowing the Sooners to trim their deficit to 61-51 with 11 1/2 minutes left.

Dotson answered with a pair of layups, and Agbaji knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Kansas bench a few minutes later, allowing the Jayhawks to stretch the lead and cruise to the finish.

“I thought we battled for a bit and then I thought we made a couple weak plays, they made a couple good plays to draw it out before the half,” Kruger said. “They’re good. They’re really good. Our guys battled in a lot of good ways and the big guy inside bothered us a bit. Garrett making 3s bothered us a bit.

“They’re just good.”

TECHNICALLY SPEAKING

The Jayhawks were leading 76-60 when they had a run-out and the Sooners’ De’Vion Harmon knocked the ball out from behind. Referee Gerry Pollard incorrectly whistled that it went off Kansas, sending coach Bill Self sprinting down the court and bumping into him. Self was given a technical foul and Doolittle made one of two free throws.

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma was 8 of 24 from beyond the arc and beaten on the boards, and that’s never a recipe for success against the Jayhawks. The Sooners also allowed Kansas to pile up 14 second-chance points.

Kansas committed 10 turnovers, but most of those came in the final few minutes. They had just three at halftime, when the Jayhawks had built a cushion they would never relinquish. Dotson had five assists and Kansas had 17 as a team.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma: hosts top-ranked Baylor on Monday night.

Kansas: concludes its homestand against Iowa State on Monday night.

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

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The days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions to punish schools for breaking NCAA rules appear to be winding down.

Memphis was placed on three years of probation earlier this week with a public reprimand and fined for NCAA violations related to the recruitment and short college career of James Wiseman, who is about to start his third season with the Golden State Warriors. The NCAA also wrapped up an investigation of Air Force football for breaking the COVID-19 recruiting quiet period.

No postseason bans or scholarship reductions in either case. The Independent Accountability Review Panel, the NCAA’s outside arm of enforcement, said in its decision in the Memphis case that it did not want to punish current athletes.

That sentiment is widespread in college athletics these days, even with millions of dollars suddenly flowing to athletes from various sources for their celebrity endorsements amid concerns over improper inducements. In fact, it is on the way to being codified: Last month, the Division I Board of Directors adopted three proposals to change the infractions process.

The board also committed to “identifying appropriate types of penalties and modifying current penalty ranges, including identifying potential alternative penalties to postseason bans.”

Trying to predict what those alternatives will be is difficult, but if the goal is to avoid harming athletes and others who were not involved in the violations the options are limited.

“I emphatically believe it’s the wrong direction to go,” said Nebraska law professor Jo Potuto, who spent nine years on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“If you’re going to deter, the punishment has to fit the offense, right?” Potuto added. “You’re not going to deter serious violations with penalties that are not perceived to be really serious.”

Since January 2020, there have been at least 45 major infractions cases decided by the NCAA. Of those, at least 15 involved Level I allegations, the most serious and those carrying the most severe penalties; six cases resulted in some kind of postseason ban, with four of them self-imposed.

The Memphis case went through the IARP, which was created in response to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption but is now being discontinued. Sunsetting the IARP was among several recommendations put forth by the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee earlier this year and recently adopted by the board.

As college sports moves toward less centralized governance by the NCAA and deregulation in general, the hope is to create a more streamlined enforcement process.

If justice is swift, the thinking goes, it is more likely to be applied fairly.

“The reality is the current system is broken,” said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips, a member of the transformation committee. “I think everyone in the association, in the enterprise, understands it. When (an investigation) takes the amount of time that it does now and you start to penalize young men and women that were high school, if not middle school-age (when the violation occurred), it’s not an effective process.”

The IARP is still handling cases stemming from the FBI probe involving Louisville, Arizona, Kansas and LSU. Those have been in the NCAA enforcement pipeline for years. A related case against Oklahoma State did not go through IARP and the Cowboys did end up with a postseason ban.

David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University and former compliance director for several schools, said even though the IARP failed, NCAA enforcement would be best handled by an independent organization.

“No system is perfect, but if you’re going to have an enforcement system at the end of the day you need to provide basic due-process protections and then you have to be able to consistently punish people,” he said.

In the Memphis case, Wiseman received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017 while Hardaway was coach at a local high school. Hardaway was hired as Memphis’ coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

The NCAA accused Memphis of four Level I and two Level II violations, including lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. In the past, those types of allegations could strike fear into athletic directors but probation and fines seem much more likely to be the outcome now instead of the sweeping scholarship sanctions, vacated victories and postseason ban that Southern California received in 2010 for the Reggie Bush improper benefits case. Those penalties set USC football back years.

In the end, the IARP essentially reduced the charges against Memphis and cleared Hardaway of wrongdoing.

While the NCAA is losing sway in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, with more power being shifted to its member conferences, it also remains clear the schools still want the association to handle enforcement.

But what exactly is being enforced?

Athletes can now be paid for endorsement and sponsorship deals and college sports is still waiting on and hoping for help from federal lawmakers to regulate name, image and likeness compensation.

Plus, as revenue skyrockets for schools at the top of major college sports, the NCAA is trending toward fewer restrictions on what financial benefits can be provided to athletes.

“Until we have clarity and certainty on what schools and boosters and athletes can and can’t do, I think many recognize that it’s dangerous to hand down significant punishments when it’s not clear what you can and can’t do,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane. “And I think unless you have clear rules, it’s hard to harsh punishment.”

Still, punishments directed at schools (fines) and coaches (suspensions) could become steeper and longer, Feldman said.

Potuto said with so much money flowing into the top of college athletics, it is doubtful fines could be large enough to be a true deterrent. While she understands the desire to not have current athletes pay for the sins of previous regimes, loosened transfer rules could mitigate the potential harm.

“I will make one prediction: If there is a move to impose penalties much less frequently in five years there is going to be a move to put them back in,” Potuto said.

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.