Garza, Nunge lead No. 3 Iowa past Western Illinois, 99-58

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Luka Garza and Jack Nunge came to Iowa in the same recruiting class. It’s a connection that Garza, the Big Ten player of the year last season, appreciates.

And with Nunge now back with the Hawkeyes, Garza couldn’t be happier – for a lot of reasons.

Garza scored 35 points, 30 in the first half, and grabbed 10 rebounds as No. 3 Iowa stayed unbeaten with a 99-58 win over Western Illinois on Thursday night.

Nunge, playing his first game this season following the death of his father, matched his career high with 18 points for the Hawkeyes (3-0).

“It was incredible,” Garza said. “His strength is so inspiring. That’s my brother. He is so responsible for the development of myself and my game. I’m just so proud of him, and his ability to push through everything he and his family are going through.”

Nunge’s career has taken a different path than Garza. Nunge took a redshirt season two years ago, then missed almost all of last season with a knee injury.

He was expected to be a key part of Iowa’s rotation this season, but he missed the first two games because of the death of his father, Mark, a physician in Newburgh, Indiana.

“It’s been a long road for me – it’s been over a year since I’ve played a game,” Nunge said. “To go out there and finally show what I can do felt good for me.

“It was something my dad would be proud of. He’s watching me from up above. He doesn’t have to worry about work or anything. He can watch me play.”

Nunge shot 8 of 11 from the field in 21 minutes of action.

“It was just so incredible to see,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “And I knew it was going to happen.”

“Every day, it’s tough,” Nunge said “Being here with my teammates, talking with my family, we’re getting through this. We’ve got to get through this, get through this together.”

Garza posted his 23rd career double-double and reached 30 points in the first half for the second consecutive game. He had 36 by halftime of last Friday’s 103-76 victory over Southern.

It was the 19th straight game of 20 points or more for Garza, the lone unanimous selection on The Associated Press preseason All-America team. That matched North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren (2013-14) for the longest streak by a major conference player over the last 20 seasons.

“You can watch film all you want on Garza,” Western Illinois coach Rob Jeter said. “Until you get out there, you don’t know what it’s like. Right now, it’s too easy for him.”

Joe Wieskamp added 11 points and Patrick McCaffery scored 10 for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa led 48-26 at halftime before Western Illinois (0-1) reeled off an early second-half run to get to 61-46. But the Hawkeyes outscored the Leathernecks 22-2 over the next 4:52.

Tamell Pearson had 12 points to lead Western Illinois. Rod Johnson Jr. scored 11 and Will Carius added 10.

MAJOR RECONSTRUCTION

Western Illinois was playing its first game under Jeter. The Leathernecks have 14 new players on their 16-man roster. They missed 20 of their first 24 shots and went scoreless for almost six minutes in the first half.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa opened the season with games against North Carolina Central, Southern and Western Illinois, but the schedule will get tougher in the coming weeks. The Hawkeyes play North Carolina and Iowa State next week, and will face No. 1 Gonzaga on Dec. 19 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

UP NEXT

Western Illinois has a home game against Central Michigan on Sunday.

The Hawkeyes are off until Tuesday when they host No. 14 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, their first game against a ranked opponent this season.

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.