No. 1 Baylor loses 2nd straight home game, 61-54 to Okla St

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WACO, Texas — Bryce Thompson and Oklahoma State completed quite a journey to beat a No. 1 team on the road for the first time in school history. They also gave Baylor consecutive home losses.

Thompson scored the game’s final six points and finished with 19 as the Cowboys, in their third Big 12 road game in five days while traveling more than 3,200 miles, beat Baylor 61-54 on Saturday.

“It’s been one heck of a week in terms of what we’ve had to face competition-wise and travel-wise,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said. “But for those guys to show the resilience, and the determination and courage to come out and play with the amount of energy that was required … If we play with any little less energy, we lose the game.”

The Cowboys (9-7, 2-3 Big 12) began their week with a 10-point loss at West Virginia on Tuesday, then two nights later lost 78-57 at Texas Tech, after the Red Raiders had just beaten Baylor at the Ferrell Center.

“It just feels like justice. We’ve been through some stuff this week on the road for a week straight,” sophomore forward Tyreek Smith said. “It just feels good to get a win.”

Baylor (15-2, 3-2), which hadn’t lost consecutive home games since the end of the 2015-16 season, is certain to fall from the top of the AP Top 25 in the new poll Monday.

After trailing by as many as 17 points in the second half, the Bears were within 55-54 with 1:21 left. when LJ Cryer made two free throws to cap a 14-2 run. They didn’t score again.

“They’re not very happy,” Bears senior Matthew Mayer said when asked the mood of the coaches.

“We dug ourselves in a big hole. … If the hole wasn’t that big, then we would have been able to win the game,” said Cryer, who had 18 points and didn’t sense any hangover from the loss to Tech. “I felt like that had nothing to do with this loss.”

Thompson made two free throws with 26 seconds left, then Bears guard Adam Flagler had turnovers on consecutive possessions – losing the ball out of bounds on a drive to the basket, then a bad pass. Thompson was fouled making the steal, then hit two more free throws before a game-capping breakaway dunk after Baylor missed its last shot.

Baylor had won a national-best 21 games in a row before losing Tuesday to Texas Tech. The reigning national and Big 12 champions led for only 16 seconds against Oklahoma State.

The only time the Cowboys trailed was after Kendall Brown’s basket that made it 4-3 only 2 1/2 minutes into the game. The Bears then missed 10 shots in a row over a span of more than six minutes before Cryer’s 3-pointer from the top of the key.

Oklahoma State followed with another 12-2 run and had its biggest lead at 29-11 when Isaac Likekele made a short floater off the glass. There was one possession in that stretch when Baylor didn’t even get a shot off before the 30-second shot clock expired, but there was no whistle when Rondel Walker had a steal and passed to Keylan Boone for a breakaway layup.

“Credit Oklahoma State. Again, shows how good our league is,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

Baylor hadn’t had consecutive losses since the last three regular-season games of the 2018-19 season and its Big 12 tournament opener.

Mayer had season-high 16 points as the Bears shot a season-low 31% (18 of 58). Their 22 points before halftime were their fewest in a half this season, and the 57 points overall were also a season low.

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma State: Thompson was the only player in double figures for the Cowboys, but all nine players who got into the game had at least nine points, and eight of them had multiple rebounds. … Oklahoma State’s game at Texas Tech was the makeup of a Jan. 1 game postponed because of COVID-19 issues in the Cowboys program.

Baylor: Already short-handed with forward Jeremy Sochan sitting for the second game in a row after turning his left ankle last weekend, leading scorer James Akinjo didn’t play the final 9:49. Akinjo came down hard on his rear end against Texas Tech, and is still sore from that. He did play 23 minutes, making only 1 of his 8 shots.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

After five consecutive weeks at No. 1, the last three unanimously, Baylor should still extend a school record with their 40th consecutive poll in the Top 10 when the new poll.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma State: Hosts TCU on Wednesday.

Baylor: At West Virginia on Tuesday.

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.