Minnesota beats No. 4 Iowa 102-95 on Johnson’s 3-point spree

Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports Images
0 Comments

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Brandon Johnson joined Minnesota as a graduate transfer in this pandemic-altered season, the adjustment to Big Ten play made even more challenging by a recent ankle injury.

He sure found his comfort zone against Iowa.

Johnson went 8 for 9 from 3-point range — making all four of his attempts in overtime — and finished with 26 points and nine rebounds to lead Minnesota’s late surge for a 102-95 upset victory over No. 4 Iowa on Friday night.

After matching the single-game school record for 3-pointers made — more than he hit in each of his first two college seasons at Western Michigan — Johnson was mobbed by his teammates on the court in the otherwise-empty arena.

“I’m going to remember that for the rest of my life,” said Johnson, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward who was 2 for 10 from 3-point range entering the game.

Marcus Carr had 30 points on 6-for-13 shooting from 3-point range and eight assists, and Liam Robbins added 18 points and four blocks for the Gophers (8-1, 1-1 Big Ten). They trailed by seven points with 44 seconds left in regulation and outscored the Hawkeyes 29-15 the rest of the way.

Luka Garza had 32 points and 17 rebounds for the Hawkeyes (7-2, 1-1), who allowed 99 points in their first loss last week to No. 1 Gonzaga. They were especially hard on themselves after this effort, allowing the Gophers to fall one made 3-pointer short of the single-game program record (18).

“Johnson was open. There was no excuse for that,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey said.

When Johnson arrived at Western Michigan, he was discouraged from long-distance shooting, but consecutive summers of extra gym work helped him sharpen his 3-point shot even if he never lacked confidence in it. He went 22 for 66 last season from long range for the Broncos.

“I tried to make it an emphasis to show that I can do multiple things, instead of just scoring around the rim and being a hustle player,” Johnson said.

He can officially check that box.

“Obviously, we didn’t expect him to go 8 for 9, but once a guy gets rolling you’ve got to adjust,” Iowa’s C.J. Fredrick said. “It doesn’t matter what his percentage is. He was just feeling it.”

Fredrick scored 23 points and Joe Wieskamp added 14 points and nine rebounds for Iowa, which let Carr make a stepback 3-pointer with 31 seconds left to bring Minnesota to 81-78.

Joe Toussaint, who made his four other free throw attempts in the final minute of regulation, missed a pair of foul shots. Then Carr hit the tying 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds remaining, bringing the Gophers bench players leaping onto the court.

Johnson swished his shot from the wing just 13 seconds into the extra session. Robbins, who had his hands full guarding the nation’s leading scorer in Garza, added the dagger 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining in overtime for a 98-91 lead after the Gophers broke the Iowa press.

“We just let one guy shoot the same shot over and over again, and we can’t do that,” Garza said.

SCENE, MISSING

This game would have produced one of the most electric atmospheres of the season at Williams Arena, but with the gates closed it was relegated to Christmas Day television programming.

Iowa hadn’t played on the Dec. 25 holiday since 1988. Minnesota found no record of any organized sporting event ever played by the school on Christmas Day.

“We play for each other in that locker room and it’s no more evident now when you don’t have your fans there,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “Our fans are great. I know that building would’ve been awesome, but most importantly that locker room was very excited and happy for each other.”

BIG PICTURE

Iowa: The Hawkeyes leaned on their defense to beat Purdue 70-55 earlier this week, but that went missing when they needed it most at Minnesota. Garza, who went just 2 for 11 for five points in the first half, stretched his streak of 20-plus points to 18 consecutive Big Ten games.

Minnesota: This meat-grinder start of the Big Ten schedule, with the first eight conference games against opponents currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, is giving the Gophers as true of a test as Pitino has had in eight seasons.

UP NEXT

Iowa: Hosts Northwestern on Tuesday.

Minnesota: Hosts Michigan State on Monday.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

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

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

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

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

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

uconn
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
0 Comments

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

Getty Images
0 Comments

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.