Boeheim pours in 30, No. 11 seed Orange rout Aztecs 78-62

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INDIANAPOLIS — The decades-old zone defense of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim claimed another frustrated victim Friday night.

One of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country, too.

The No. 11 seed Orange held sixth-seeded San Diego State without a field goal for nearly a quarter of the game, sweet-shooting Buddy Boeheim hit seven 3-pointers and finished with 30 points, and Syracuse cruised to a 78-62 victory inside Hinkle Fieldhouse and into the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Boeheim finished 7 of 10 from beyond the arc and 11 of 15 from the field. Marek Dolezaj added 11 points as Syracuse (17-9) advanced to play third-seeded West Virginia, an 84-67 winner over No. 14 seed Morehead State, for a spot in the Sweet 16.

“We want to keep going, keep building off this,” the younger Boeheim said. “We know there’s still a long road ahead of us. It’s a great feeling. We have a day tomorrow to get a practice in and we’re right back Sunday.”

The Orange were trailing 18-14 midway through the first half when they clamped down on defense, holding San Diego State (23-5) without a field goal the rest of the half. And when the Aztecs threatened to trim their deficit to less than 10 early in the second half, the son of the longtime Syracuse coach was there to provide an answer.

Boeheim hit three quick 3-pointers, one of them curling off a screen and falling away, to put the game out of reach.

“Buddy just had one of those games like he’s been having lately,” Jim Boeheim said. “I never had one of those so I don’t know how it feels, but it looks like the basket is wide and he just made some great shots.”

Jordan Schakel had 17 points for the Aztecs, but the nation’s third-best 3-point shooter was just 5 of 13 from beyond the arc. Leading scorer Matt Mitchell also had 17 points on 8-of-19 shooting for the Mountain West champs.

“We had a lot of great memories over the years. This is not how we wanted to end it,” said Schakel, choking up a bit. “In a couple days, I’ll be able to look back and be grateful. But right now, this one doesn’t feel good.”

San Diego State made it clear from the moment it jacked up three 3-pointers on its first couple trips down the floor that the plan was to break Syracuse’s decades-old 2-3 zone by shooting right over top of it.

Problem is the Aztecs didn’t make many.

Beginning with Boeheim’s own 3-pointer with 9:17 left, the Aztecs never scored again in the first half. They missed their final 10 attempts from beyond the arc, finished 3 of 20 from the 3-point line in the first half, and even missed the front end of a one-and-one with a few seconds left before the break.

“Obviously we knew we needed to make 3s in order to compete in this game,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “When you’re missing them, the defense starts shrinking in. It gets harder to drive.”

“Buddy Buckets” nearly outscored San Diego State by himself. Boeheim had 16 points as Syracuse built a 32-18 halftime lead; it was the fewest points Dutcher’s high-scoring, perimeter-oriented team had scored in a half all season.

Mitchell, the Mountain West player of the year, missed all five of his 3-point tries and was 1 of 9 from the field.

Schakel finally got a 3-pointer to go right out of halftime, giving the few San Diego State fans in the crowd a long-awaited reason to cheer. But the Aztecs promptly went into another long slump, and Boeheim and the rest of the Orange’s red-hot shooters continued to bury their own 3s, building a 56-30 lead before coasting to the finish.

“They played well. Offensively, obviously, we struggled to shoot the ball,” Dutcher said. “Their zone was very good. Coach Boeheim has had the success he’s had because he plays it better than anyone.”

BIG PICTURE

Syracuse kept its late-season momentum going Friday night. The Orange had won three of their last four games, beating North Carolina and Clemson, and took Virginia to the wire in a buzzer-beating loss in the ACC Tournament.

San Diego State hoped to make a deep run after its loaded 30-2 team last season missed out on a chance to play in the tournament. But the Aztecs looked nothing like the team that brought a 14-game win streak to Indianapolis, winning them by an average margin of 18.4 points, failing to break the Syracuse zone and wilting on the defensive end.

UP NEXT

The Orange will play the Mountaineers or Eagles on Sunday. Syracuse is 28-16 against West Virginia, its old Big East rival, and 3-0 against Morehead State with a win over the Eagles in the first round of the 1983 tournament.

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.