Williams busts out of slump, No. 2 UConn beats Georgetown

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WASHINGTON — Christyn Williams broke out of a slump with 19 points and No. 2 UConn overcame another slow start to beat Georgetown 64-40 on Friday night for its sixth consecutive victory.

Williams was 8 of 19 from the field and sparked a 16-2 run that turned the game around. Her layup midway through the second quarter put the Huskies (16-1, 13-0 Big East) ahead, and they didn’t trail again.

“She shot the ball fairly well, but she was involved in a lot of other things on the floor,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “From that perspective, it was a really good game for her.”

The junior guard from Little Rock, Arkansas, had missed 23 of her previous 27 attempts from the field. She threw the ball away trying to get it to Paige Bueckers at the top of the key and after an early miss shook her head trying to get back on track.

Williams did just that, scoring seven points the rest of the half to take UConn from down one to up eight. She had 13 points in the first half alone and finished with seven rebounds.

“I’ve really been struggling a little bit shooting the ball,” Williams said. “It felt good just to see the ball go in a couple times.”

Bueckers grimaced while playing 39 minutes on a sprained right ankle after taking an exam earlier in the day. Despite the injury, the standout freshman had 19 points and nine assists, ending a streak of six games scoring at least 20.

“I’m just trying to do what my team needs me to do, the coaches want me to do, what my teammates want me to do,” Bueckers said.

Georgetown (1-10, 1-10) lost its ninth in a row. Freshman Kelsey Ransom led the Hoyas with 15 points and was their only player in double figures.

BIG PICTURE

UConn is likely to be No. 1 in the AP Top 25 rankings Monday after a 3-0 week that included an overtime victory against currently top-ranked South Carolina. Coming down from the emotional high of that win, the Huskies shook off sluggish starts to take care of business against Seton Hall and Georgetown and reclaim the No. 1 ranking for the first time since January 2020.

Asked for his advice to Top 25 voters, Auriemma said: “Just vote. Vote your conscience. Vote what you see, whatever that is. And after the vote, don’t let anybody come from another state and challenge your vote. Stand by your vote.”

UGLY START

UConn was 4 of 12 with seven turnovers in the first quarter. Georgetown scored 10 off those turnovers. The Huskies still led 13-12 after the first and heated up from there.

“We need to come out with an aggressive mindset constantly,” Williams said. “Sometimes I think we start off a little slow, a little passive instead of coming out and throwing the first punch, and that’s just something we have to be more conscious about and get better at moving forward.”

ROAD WARRIORS

This was a strong start to UConn’s run of five consecutive road games. The program hasn’t played that many in a row away from home under Auriemma. The last time was 1980, when Auriemma was still in school himself at West Chester University.

DOMINATION

UConn has beaten Georgetown 30 consecutive times dating to 1993. The Huskies, who beat the Hoyas 72-41 at home last month, are 47-6 in the series.

UP NEXT

UConn: At St. John’s on Tuesday.

Georgetown: Hosts Creighton on Monday.

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.