Gibson hits 8 3s, Oklahoma beats No. 9 West Virginia 75-71

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NORMAN, Okla. — Umoja Gibson made eight 3-pointers and scored a season-high 29 points, and Oklahoma recovered after blowing an 18-point halftime lead to beat No. 9 West Virginia 75-71 on Saturday.

The Sooners (6-1, 2-1 Big 12) have won three straight and four of five against the Mountaineers (8-3, 1-2), including a season sweep in 2019-20. The Sooners also have won four of their last seven games against ranked opponents.

Taz Sherman and Jalen Bridges had 19 points each for West Virginia, and Miles McBride had 15. The Mountaineers’ previous losses this season came to No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 3 Kansas. The loss kept coach Bob Huggins from recording his 300th win as West Virginia’s coach.

With the score tied at 60, Austin Reaves knocked down a long 2-point jumper and then a 3-pointer – his only one of the game, in nine attempts – with 3:40 left, giving Oklahoma the lead for good.

“Austin has got the confidence to do what he needs to down the stretch and no question that he’ll make some shots going forward,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger.

West Virginia kept the pressure on and twice pulled within three points in the final minute, but a basket by De’Vion Harmon (10 points) and two free throws by Reaves (13 points) kept the Sooners on top.

Kruger also praised Gibson, a transfer from North Texas who went 9 of 12 from the field and kept the Sooners afloat offensively for much of the second half as they weathered West Virginia’s rally. He was 8 of 11 from deep.

“He made big shots,” Kruger said. “We needed every one of them, obviously, in the second half down the stretch there … when the game was tied. He stepped up there. He was great. He works as hard as anyone in the country on putting extra time into the gym and when a young guy does that, it’s easy to cheer for him and I’m happy to see him rewarded.”

West Virginia shot 23% (7 of 30) from the field in the first half, allowing Oklahoma to build a 38-20 halftime lead. The Mountaineers went more than 8 1/2 minutes without a basket during one stretch as Oklahoma’s advantage ballooned from 19-16 to 33-17.

It didn’t take long for West Virginia to catch up. The Mountaineers opened the second half on a 20-7 run and pulled within 45-40 on a steal and layup by McBride with 12:38 left. Consecutive 3-pointers by Sherman, Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Sherman tied the game at 49 with 10:10 left.

“At halftime we adjusted our defense, mainly, because we were giving up way too many wide-open shots,” Bridges said. “We weren’t playing with energy. We didn’t really take an offensive approach to the second half.”

BIG PICTURE:

West Virginia: The Mountaineers lost two forwards this week in freshman Isaiah Cottrell (torn Achilles tendon vs. Northeastern on Tuesday) and sophomore Oscar Tshiebwe (left team for personal reasons on Friday). They’ll have to adapt to losing two big inside players, and Saturday’s game was their first opportunity to experiment with how that’s going to look. Bridges replaced Tshiebwe in the starting lineup.

Oklahoma: The Sooners are trying to survive a particularly rough stretch of their schedule that has them facing four straight top-15 opponents (Texas Tech, West Virginia, Baylor and Kansas). A win over a ranked foe always is a good tonic and should help in building a NCAA tournament resume.

UP NEXT:

West Virginia: Will stay in Oklahoma to visit Oklahoma State on Monday before returning home for a game next Saturday against Texas.

Oklahoma: Will visit No. 2 Baylor on Wednesday and No. 3 Kansas on Saturday.

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.