No. 23 Minnesota hands No. 7 Michigan 1st loss in 75-57 romp

Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports Images
0 Comments

MINNEAPOLIS — When two of the Big Ten’s best and tallest players faced off just last week, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson made his 7-foot-1 mark on a decisive win over Minnesota.

Liam Robbins and his teammates stepped up in a big way to avoid the repeat.

Robbins had 22 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes to lead No. 23 Minnesota to a 75-57 victory on Saturday, handing No. 7 Michigan its first loss while holding Dickinson to a season-low nine points.

“We challenged Liam: `You’re a junior. He’s a freshman. He’s a really good freshman, but you’ve got to act like the junior in this one,”‘ Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said.

Marcus Carr scored 17 points and Gabe Kalscheur added 10 points for the Gophers (11-4, 4-4 Big Ten), who played their seventh straight game against an team ranked in the Associated Press poll. According to Minnesota’s research, this was the most consecutive Top 25 opponents for any NCAA team since St. John’s faced eight in a row in 2011.

Back in their happy place after decisive defeats last week at Michigan and Iowa, the Gophers limited the Wolverines – the best shooting team in the conference – to a season-low score while forcing them into a season-high 20 turnovers.

“We were embarrassed about what happened in Ann Arbor, and we were going to make sure that didn’t happen on our home court,” said the 7-foot Robbins, who made three 3-pointers in the second half and helped hound Dickinson – who has already won the Big Ten’s freshman of the week award five times – into five turnovers with only five shot attempts.

Eric Curry chipped in while Robbins was out with first-half foul trouble and finished with six points and three steals to fluster Dickinson, who had 28 points on 12-for-15 shooting in the last game against the Gophers.

“He’s probably never been in that frustration spot. He’s always been the dominator, the centerpiece,” said Isaiah Livers, who had 11 points for the Wolverines. “Hunter’s a smart kid, though. Like everybody else on this team, he’s resilient.”

Chaundee Brown Jr. scored 14 points for the Wolverines (11-1, 6-1), who played without senior guard Eli Brooks due to a foot injury from a recent practice.

Their half-court flow constantly disrupted, the Wolverines never led. Third-leading scorer Franz Wagner went scoreless in the first half. The Gophers had a 13-4 edge in fast-break points, 23-9 in scoring off turnovers.

Brown swished a corner 3-pointer to make it 41-35 with 13:58 left, but Robbins and the Gophers immediately took over after that without letting up.

“That was supposed to be our run,” Livers said. “They had a great game plan. They were prepared.”

Carr and company kept attacking the basket off the dribble down the stretch, the most sound strategy for a team that entered the weekend second in the country in free throw attempts.

“Guys, I don’t know how smart I am,” Pitino told his team prior to the game, “but if you’re dead last in 3s, you should not be first in attempts.”

SATURDAY, IN THE BARN

The Gophers didn’t play a single Saturday home game in 2019-20. This season, with no fans able to buy tickets due to COVID-19 restrictions, five of their 10 conference home games are on Saturdays.

Minnesota’s four losses have come by an average margin of 20 points, all to Big Ten teams ranked in the top 14 of the latest poll and all away from home.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Fresh from their 77-54 thrashing of No. 9 Wisconsin, a third win by 19-plus points in as many matchups with ranked foes, the Wolverines have been playing like a Final Four team. At some point in this loaded league, a setback was bound to happen.

“This loss right here is a loss that we’re going to learn from,” coach Juwan Howard said.

Minnesota: Through the thick of their front-loaded conference schedule, the Gophers have stacked up so many quality wins that simply landing an at-large NCAA Tournament bid would be a letdown.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Michigan has done enough to stay in the top 10 when the next AP poll is published on Monday. Minnesota, the lowest of six ranked Big Ten teams, will undoubtedly move up several spots.

UP NEXT

Michigan: Hosts Maryland on Tuesday.

Minnesota: Visits Nebraska on Wednesday.

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
2 Comments

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.