No. 9 Buckeyes beat No. 21 Purdue in OT, make Big Ten semis

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS — Seth Towns is a natural when it comes to staying poised.

So when Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann needed an extra body to fill a key role Friday, he gave the Harvard transfer an opportunity.

Towns took full advantage of it, scoring a season-high 12 points in 11 minutes and making the tiebreaking free throw to start overtime as the ninth-ranked Buckeyes beat No. 21 Purdue 87-78 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.

Towns scored six points in OT, including a crucial 3-pointer with 2:53 left.

“Seth and I had a conversation last night and I just felt like he was going to play well tonight,” Holtmann said after earning his 200th career victory. “I just felt very confident in his mindset where his head was. It’s a great, great credit to him.”

The Buckeyes (20-8) may need their graduate transfer to come up big in Saturday’s semifinal matchup against No. 4 Michigan, their longtime rival and the Big Ten regular-season champs, especially if Kyle Young is out.

Young matched his career with 18 points in the first half but most of the second half after taking an inadvertent elbow to the head.

Young tried to play but eventually came out and did not return. Ohio State also finished the game without all-conference forward E.J. Liddell, who fouled out after scoring 17 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out five assists.

Duane Washington Jr. led Ohio State with 20 points.

For the Buckeyes, it was another harrowing close call. Just 24 hours after Minnesota cut a 14-point lead to one in the final 3 1/2 minutes of Thursday’s tourney opener, they blew an 18-point halftime lead.

Towns rescued them.

“Seth is always under control and calm,” Liddell said, cracking a smile. “I feel like Seth is always the level-headed one and he made the big plays, the big shots.”

It was a big moment, too. Ohio State had lost both of the other games against the Boilermakers (18-9) and the victory sends them to their first semifinal appearance since 2014.

Trevion Williams finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds and five assists as Purdue’s five-game winning streak ended. Jaden Ivey added 19 points.

“It was on us,” Boilermakers forward Mason Gillis said when asked about the momentum shift in overtime. “We missed a free throw box out, they get a layup, a runner and a 3 (from Towns) and that’s it right there.”

BIG PICTURE

Ohio State: One day after snapping a four-game losing streak, the Buckeyes won another game in less than impressive fashion. Yes, they need to develop a stronger knockout punch to make a deep NCAA Tournament run. What they do have, however, is grit and depth.

Purdue: One of the Big Ten’s hottest teams was doomed by a miserable first half in Indy. It’s only the second loss the Boilermakers have suffered inside Indiana this season. But now they’ll get some extra rest before resuming next week in one of the three Indiana cities hosting tourney action this sesaon.

STAT PACK

Ohio State: Washington also had five rebounds and three assists. … The victory also gives Holtmann his eighth consecutive 20-win season. The Buckeyes have won 20 in 16 of the last 17 seasons. … Ohio State was 16 of 18 from the free throw line. … The Buckeyes lost their only other matchup against Michigan 92-87 in Columbus on Feb. 21. … Ohio State is now 3-0 all-time at Lucas Oil Stadium, which also hosts the Big Ten football title game.

Purdue: Zach Edey scored 11 points for the Boilermakers. … The Boilermakers never led in the second half and only tied the score twice, both on baskets from Williams. The first came with 46.5 seconds left and the second, with 9.4 seconds left, made it 72-all. … The Boilermakers’ streak of holding opponents to 72 or fewer points ended at 15.

YOUNG UPDATE

Holtmann did not provide an update on Young’s status following the game because he said he hadn’t yet talked to the doctors. But when asked about why Young played four more possessions before leaving the game for good, Holtmann he’d take a second look at how it unfolded. “I’d like to look back and know the exact scenario,” he said. “I think initially he said he wanted to play and so we let him. Maybe looking back, I could have pulled him. Maybe I should have.”

UP NEXT

Ohio State: Faces No. 4 Michigan in Saturday’s first semifinal.

Purdue: Will wait to see who they play when the NCAA Tournament bracket comes out Sunday.

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.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

Getty Images
1 Comment

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.