Virginia Tech upsets No. 3 Villanova 81-73 in overtime

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Virginia Tech overcame some late-game adversity to dominate overtime and upset No. 3 Villanova just a day after learning they would be playing the Wildcats.

Keve Aluma scored 22 points, Nahiem Alleyne had 20 and Tyrece Radford added eight points and 13 rebounds for Tech (2-0), which won 81-73 Saturday night, outscoring the Wildcats 17-9 in the extra frame.

“I thought we guarded so very well throughout and we did it again over a five-minute period in the overtime and found a way to win,” Coach Mike Young said. “A huge win for us.”

Collin Gillespie scored 18 of his 25 points in the first half for Villanova (2-1). Caleb Daniels added 17 points and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl finished with 14 for the Wildcats.

The teams were tied at 29 after 20 minutes and deadlocked at 38 five minutes into the second half.

The Wildcats appeared to take control of the game from there, going on an 11-0 run and holding the Hokies scoreless for five minutes.

“You learn when you have a lead and you’re playing against a good team, you’ve got to play every possession until the end,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “So, we’re definitely going to learn that the hard way.”

Virginia Tech chipped away and led 64-62 lead with 1.3 seconds remaining on an odd three-point play by Aluma, who scored on a beautiful assist from Cartier Diarra in the lane, and then unintentionally banked in a free throw he was trying to miss.

Villanova’s Justin Moore then drew a charge on Justyn Mutts on the inbounds play and Moore’s two foul shots sent the game into overtime tied at 64.

Mutts made up for that mistake by scoring the first five points in extra time and the Hokies never relinquished the lead.

“That was a key, just keeping our cool and feeding off our bench’s energy, that helped us through the game,” Aluma said.

The game was an unexpected third in four days for Villanova in”Bubbleville,” the 11-day gathering of college basketball teams at the Mohegan Sun resort casino for early season nonconference play.

The Hokies were supposed to face Temple on Saturday, but the Owls were forced to pause team activities for two weeks on Thanksgiving after a positive coronavirus test in the program. That meant canceling not only Saturday’s game, but a contest that had been scheduled for Dec. 3 at Villanova.

That left both the Hokies and the Wildcats at the Mohegan Sun looking for a game.

WILD ENDING

Young took the blame for his team failing to close the game out in regulation, admitting his didn’t prepare his team for the possibility that Aluma would accidentally make his foul shot.

Villanova then baited Mutts into a charge on the baseline, a call that originally went against Villanova but was reversed.

“I failed to coach my player on one of the oldest tricks in the book and it almost cost us,” Young said. “So, nobody’s fault but mine.”

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: Neither team has anyone over 6-foot-9 on the roster, but the Hokies outscored Villanova 32-22 in the paint and outrebounded the Wildcats 40-31.

“I’m not sure we’ve ever outrebounded anyone,” Young said. “I’m not sure we ever outscored another team, certainly not in the Atlantic Coast Conference in the paint. That’s what I’m comfortable with. That’s how I’ve always wanted to play.”

Villanova: The Wildcats’ bench scored just eight points against the Hokies, who got 25 points from their reserves.

DEJA VU

This is the second straight year the Hokies have upset the No. 3 team in the country in an early season nonconference game. The Hokies upset Michigan State last November in Maui.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: The Hokies stay in “Bubbleville” for a Sunday night game against South Florida.

Villanova: The Wildcats head home to play Saint Joseph’s, a game that was moved from Monday to Wednesday as part of the schedule reshuffling resulting from Temple’s virus issues.

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.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.