Shackelford, Alabama roll past Maryland and into Sweet 16

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INDIANAPOLIS — Jaden Shackelford and Alabama stuck with what got them to the NCAA Tournament, torching Maryland with 3-point shooting in a 96-77 second-round rout on Monday night.

Shackelford scored 21 points and made five of Alabama’s 16 3-pointers as the second-seeded Crimson Tide advanced to their first Sweet 16 since 2004. Nate Oats, the second-year coach who made Buffalo a must-watch team before moving up to the Southeastern Conference, will bring his high-energy style to a regional semifinal for the first time.

That’s hardly a coaching resume to rival Nick Saban’s, but Oats is building a hoops culture in football-mad Tuscaloosa.

“I’m really happy for the guys,” Oats said. “It’s been a long time since they’ve played in the Sweet 16. They really bought into doing it the right way.”

After trailing early, the nation’s top 3-point shooting team quickly heated up to overwhelm the 10th-seeded Terrapins. Alabama next faces 11th-seeded UCLA in the East Region.

“It’s always something you imagine you’re capable of,” Shackelford said. “We just want to soak up the moment, and it’s something we’re proud of.”

Aggressive play on the boards was critical for the Crimson Tide, who outrebounded Maryland 40-19. They they made sure to cash in those transition opportunities, especially from beyond the arc.

“We didn’t come out the first game with as much defensive intensity as we needed to this game,” Shackelford said. “I feel like we kind of changed that. It was a big emphasis coming in. When we run off stops, our 3-ball usually falls more.”

Aaron Wiggins scored 27 points and Eric Ayala had 13 for Maryland (17-14), which was seeking its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2015 and 15th overall. The Terps’ loss left Michigan as the only Big Ten team to survive the opening weekend after the conference earned nine NCAA bids.

“Not the way we wanted to go out, obviously,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “We started well, were up 12-4 and the game got away from us. Alabama was terrific. They haven’t been shooting it that well lately, but they shot it well today. We’re a good defensive team, but we were a step slow and could never get caught up.”

John Petty Jr. broke out of a slump to score 20 points with 4 3s for the Crimson Tide, and reserve Jahvon Quinerly added 14 points.

Alabama made just 5 of 16 from deep in a first-round win over 15th-seeded Iona. The Crimson Tide already had eight 3s by halftime against Maryland to lead 46-38. The advantage quickly surged past 20 points as Alabama made five in a row from long range.

Oats said he spoke with Iona coach Rick Pitino after the Tide’s 68-55 first-round victory. The Hall of Famer told Oats the first tournament game is always the hardest and a team’s form can improve from there.

The Crimson Tide finished 16 of 33 (48.5%) beyond the arc and shot 53% overall.

“We’ve played great defense all year, but the offense was bound to come around,” Oats added.

Oats, a former high school coach and math teacher, walked off the floor with his team to plenty of cheers from crimson-clad fans who traveled to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to watch the 3-for-all.

STAT PACK

Both teams shot 53% and scored 36 paint points. Alabama dominated most other statistical categories, including a 39-9 advantage in bench scoring and 23-9 in second-chance points.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: The Terps were outmatched by Alabama’s quickness and perimeter proficiency. They made 10 of 27 3-point attempts but still couldn’t rally in the second half. Maryland lost four of its final six games.

Alabama: Getting Joshua Primo (10 points) back from a three-game absence with a knee injury no doubt helped the Tide feel whole offensively. Petty’s rebound from a recent slump was also a plus for a team that looks like a Final Four contender. SEC player of the year Herbert Jones had six points and six rebounds amid foul trouble.

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.