No. 24 UConn routs Central Connecticut 99-48 in opener

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STORRS, Conn.- UConn coach Dan Hurley wants his offense to run through Adama Sanogo in the low post this season.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore from Mali ran through, past and around Central Connecticut on Tuesday, scoring 20 points and leading the Huskies to a season-opening 99-48 rout of the Blue Devils.

“It’s tough to guard me, so basically I score whenever I want,” said Sanogo, who hit nine of his 11 attempts from the field.

R.J. Cole scored 15 points and Tyrese Martin added 14 for the Huskies, who led by 29-points at halftime and forced 29 Blue Devil turnovers for the game.

“We’re one of the hardest playing teams in the country, if not the hardest playing team,” Cole said. “And that’s our identity – playing hard, getting after it on defense and then the offense will come with it.”

Sanogo opened the scoring with a layup and had six points as UConn jumped out to a 22-5 lead.

The Huskies, who are ranked to start the season for the first time since 2016, made their first eight shots and held the Blue Devils to just two baskets in the first eight minutes.

The Huskies took their first 20-point lead at 34-14 when Akok Akok grabbed a deflection out of the air and turned it into an unintentional ally-oop layup.

Martin’s rebound and end-to-end driving layup capped a 15-0 run that gave UConn a 41-14 lead. The Huskies led 52-23 at the half.

Joe Ostrowsky had 12 points and Nigel Scantlebury 11 for Central Connecticut, which finished 5-16 last season and is picked to finish last in the Northeast Conference.

Sanogo scored the first four points as the Huskies opened the second half on a 10-2 run.

“He’s a special guy,” Hurley said. “And I think from an offensive standpoint, one of the best low-post scorers in college basketball this year.”

The Huskies are 16-0 all-time against the Blue Devils from New Britain.

BIG PICTURE

CCSU: It was the head-coaching debut for Patrick Sellers, who played for the Blue Devils and was UConn’s director of basketball operations from 2004-2007 before serving as an assistant under Hall-of-Famer Jim Calhoun from 2007-2010.

“One of my friends always says, once you slide over 18 inches, everything kind of changes,” he said. “And it does change `cause everybody is looking at you during the huddle. ‘What are we running next? What are we doing here?’ But it felt like another game. Obviously we wanted to play better as a team.”

UConn: The Huskies played without sharp-shooting freshman Jordan Hawkins, who sprained his right ankle in practice Saturday. Hurley said Hawkins is day-to-day and could be ready by Saturday or next week at the latest.

BY THE NUMBERS

UConn scored 47 points off CCSU turnovers. The Blue Devils scored four points off UConn’s 14 turnovers. The Huskies held a 58-22 scoring advantage in the paint and 30-6 on the fast break. They won the rebounding battle 34-23.

DEPTH

Hurley was able to get 13 players into the game. Eleven got in before halftime and each played more than six minutes in the game. UConn, which lost leading scorer James Bouknight to the NBA, returns nine scholarship players, including 74.3% of the scoring and 78.3% of the rebounding from last season’s NCAA Tournament team.

UP NEXT

Central Connecticut plays at Brown on Sunday.

UConn hosts Coppin State at the XL Center in Hartford on Saturday.

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.