McBride, Sherman help No. 17 West Virginia top No. 23 Kansas

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For once, No. 17 West Virginia found a way to finish strong.

Miles McBride scored a career-high 29 points, Taz Sherman had a career-best 25 and West Virginia kept pushing all game long, beating No. 23 Kansas 91-79 on Saturday.

The Mountaineers (13-5, 6-3 Big 12) never trailed and got off to a good start in a challenging stretch where they will play six straight opponents that are currently ranked.

Nail-biting finishes have been the norm lately for the Mountaineers, who needed some late free throws to hold off Iowa State on the road on Tuesday. They faded in a close loss to Florida at home on Jan. 30 and they got a last-second shot from McBride to edge No. 13 Texas Tech on Jan. 25.

“We just wanted to close out the game as best as we can,” Sherman said. “As everybody knows, that’s one of those things we had a problem with other teams. But I feel like we closed out the game well this time.”

Kansas (12-7, 6-5) lost its fifth straight road game. The Jayhawks couldn’t rely on a barrage of 3-pointers as they did in beating West Virginia at home on Dec. 22 — they were 7 of 20 from long distance on Saturday.

“We knew they were going to make a run at some point,” McBride said. “But we weathered the storm and gave it back to them, honestly.”

McBride also had seven rebounds and eight assists. Derek Culver had 19 points and nine rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.

Trailing by 10 at halftime, Kansas forced several turnovers to tie it. But McBride and Sherman were dominant, combining to score 33 points in the second half while shooting 10 of 15.

“We usually don’t have just guards go whip us,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “That’s what happened tonight with those two. McBride totally dominated the game. He was a first-team all-American tonight the way he played. Made every big shot. Of course, Sherman had a big game. We knew they were keys looking back.

“Those guys just kind of took over down the stretch.”

McBride broke out of a mini-slump that saw him held to nine points in the previous two games. The sophomore hit a 3-pointer with 14:15 left to put West Virginia ahead to stay.

“It’s all about preparation,” said McBride, who was 8 of 15 from the floor, including four 3-pointers, and made all nine foul shots. “When I come into a game more prepared and a little bit more motivated, I think that every shot is going.”

Emmitt Matthews made a 3-pointer and Sherman followed with a three-point play to put West Virginia ahead 84-71 with 2:30 left. The Mountaineers made five of their last seven shots.

As well as the Mountaineers performed on the offensive end, their effort was set up by defense. The Jayhawks didn’t make a field goal over a three-minute stretch near the end of the game.

“That was our best defensive performance of the year,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.

Marcus Garrett led the Jayhawks with 18 points. David McCormack added 17 points and nine rebounds, while Jalen Wilson had 16 points and 14 rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: Self fell to 3-6 against West Virginia in Morgantown. The Jayhawks have lost five of their last seven games and will need a solid push over the final month to improve their NCAA Tournament seeding with games still remaining against ranked opponents Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers needed a good shooting performance and made 50% (32 of 64) of their field goals. They also forced 18 turnovers. Every time Huggins beats Kansas, he gets a $25,000 contract bonus that he donates to cancer research in his late mother’s name.

POLL IMPLICATIONS:

The Jayhawks could drop out of the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since February 2009, a record streak of 231 consecutive weeks. West Virginia should move up with its second straight win.

PLAYING UNTIL THE FINISH

Huggins said despite having a double-digit lead, he didn’t become sure of pulling out a win until Self started telling his team not to foul.

“When Bill told them to stop fouling, that was about when I started relaxing,” Huggins said. “It got to a point where there was no way they could come back, and he just said stop fouling, so I was happy about that. Just run the clock.”

UP NEXT

Kansas hosts Oklahoma State on Monday. The Jayhawks lost 75-70 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Jan. 12.

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.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.