No. 3 UConn beats Creighton 80-47 in Big East home opener

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn coach Geno Auriemma sees more poise in Olivia Nelson-Ododa’s play this season.

The junior center was a perfect 9-for-9 from the floor Thursday in leading the third-ranked Huskies to an 80-47 rout of Creighton. Her 24 points were just three shy of her career high. She has opened the season scoring in double digits in all three games.

“I think the coaches have made the emphasis on just playing in a more relaxed state, definitely more calm,” Nelson-Ododa said. “And I think not only just me, but as a team, that can really help us.”

Christyn Williams added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies (3-0, 2-0 Big East) in their Big East home opener. Anna Makurat scored 12 points and freshman Paige Bueckers finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

UConn was playing its third game in six days after having its first four games postponed or canceled because of a positive coronavirus test in the program.

Emma Ronsiek scored 11 points for Creighton (2-4, 1-1), which lost starting guard Rachel Saunders to a knee injury in the first quarter.

UConn dominated from the start, opening the game on an 8-0 run that included three layups.

Bueckers gave the Huskies their first double-digit lead at 18-7 by following up her own miss.

That was part of a 23-0 run over just under nine minutes that saw the Huskies take control of the game and stretch their lead to 33-7. UConn led 36-12 at the half.

“I thought we had a good amount of good shots in the first half we just couldn’t make any of them,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. ” I thought defensively in the first half we were OK, only if we would’ve made a couple of shots. They’re a good team and they will expose you, which is good for us to learn from.”


Creighton: The Bluejays came into the game averaging about 10 3-point baskets on almost 30 shots a game from behind the arc. Creighton was just 7 of 29 from behind the arc Thursday, missing all 11 of their 3-point attempts in the decisive first half.

UConn: The Huskies dominated underneath, outscoring Creighton 42-20 in the paint and outrebounding the Bluejays 43-25. Outside shooting continues to be a concern for the Huskies, who shot just 5 of 14 from behind the arc. UConn came into the game just 9 of 35 from 3-point range (just under 26%).


Saunders, who had been averaging just under 10 points a game, limped off the court in the first quarter. She returned to the bench from the half on crutches with her left knee wrapped in ice. UConn freshman guard Nika Muhl missed Thursday’s game with a sore left foot. She was in a walking boot and Auriemma said she will not play again until after Christmas.


The game also finished with just two referees. The third, officials said, had been exposed to the coronavirus during a game earlier in the week and was removed at halftime.


Auriemma said he would like Bueckers, his star freshman, to stop passing up open shots in favor of a possible assist.

“She wants to make everybody feel great,” he said. “Me, if I could shoot like Paige, first I’d get 20 and then I’d make everybody feel great.”


This is the second meeting between the two programs. The first, in November 2014, was also at Gampel. UConn’s 86-60 win began what would become a record 111-game winning streak for the Huskies.

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


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.