No. 7 Arizona grinds out 76-66 win over No. 3 UCLA

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TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona’s offense, after flowing so well in the first half, hit a Bruins wall in the second. Good looks were hard to come by, every pass contested, the stretch without a field exceeding five minutes.

In stepped Kerr Kriisa. The Estonian guard who missed all 12 of his shots the first go-round against UCLA, calmly sank a 3-pointer with two minutes left, allowing the Wildcats space enough to pull out a hard-fought win.

Kriisa scored 16 points and hit that big 3-pointer, Dalen Terry flirted with a triple-double and No. 7 Arizona grinded out a 76-66 win over No. 3 UCLA on Thursday night.

“Playing at UCLA was good, gave him some battle scars, so to speak,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said of Kriisa. “Now he’s a little more grizzled, a little tougher, and that’s super important.”

Shut down by UCLA nine days earlier, the Wildcats (18-2, 8-1 Pac-12) had a good offensive flow in the first half, building a 12-point lead that stretched to 17 in the second.

The Bruins (16-3, 8-2) turned up the defensive pressure and slowed the game in the second half to chip the lead down to three. Kriisa soon answered with a 3 – Arizona’s only field goal in the final 7:04 – to make it 70-61 and the Wildcats made six straight free throws in the final 1:25 to win the rematch.

Kriisa threw the ball into the student section to celebrate the home win after being blown out in Southern California.

“Obviously, we were thinking about it,” said Terry, who finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. “I’m glad we came out on top and we were able to do it at home.”

UCLA gave Arizona nearly everything it wanted offensively in the first half, then took most of it away in the second. The Bruins cut a 17-point deficit to three with just under four minutes left, but missed some key shots down the stretch.

Jules Barnard scored 15 points for UCLA and Johnny Juzang had 12 after missing two games in COVID-19 protocols.

“They had better energy, especially to start the game,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “Defensively, we didn’t get the job done and they got comfortable. You can’t let them get comfortable offensively.”

UCLA won the first meeting 75-59 at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 23 by slowing the pace and shutting down one of the nation’s top offenses.

Arizona got back to its free-flowing, fast-cutting ways against the Bruins early in the rematch. The Wildcats worked the hi-low for a couple of early baskets and hit consecutive 3s to cap a 12-0 run to go up 28-14 midway through the first half.

Arizona kept flowin’ and scorin,’ shooting 15 of 25 to lead 42-30 at halftime.

UCLA, after a good offensive start, struggled with Arizona’s pressure and aggressive switching. The Bruins labored to get good looks and shot 1 of 9 from behind the 3-point arc.

“We got a lot of good looks,” Cronin said. “They just weren’t falling.”

Bennedict Mathurin had the defensive highlight of the first half, rising up to block Bernard’s dunk attempt in transition and bringing the crowd to its feet with him.

Scoring was a little more difficult for the Wildcats in the second half, yet they were able to push back the Bruins nearly every time they tried to make a run, keeping the lead near double digits.

UCLA’s pressure finally started to wear down Arizona late in the second half. The Bruins held the Wildcats without a field goal for more than five minutes and used a 7-0 run to pull within 64-61.

Arizona wouldn’t let them any closer, with Kriisa’s 3 keying a strong finish.


UCLA couldn’t slow the Wildcats in the first half, but was able to dictate the pace better in the second. It still wasn’t enough.

Arizona was at its offensive best in the first half, then labored against UCLA’s pressure but found a way to win. Beat No. 19 Southern California on Saturday and the Wildcats could find themselves back in the top 5 in Monday’s poll.


UCLA had a hard time stopping Azoulas Tubelis early, particularly on hi-low plays. The Arizona big man had 10 points in the first half and four more in the opening 2 1/2 minutes of the second.

Then he sat. Going with a defensive lineup that included 7-footers Christian Koloko and Oumar Ballo, Lloyd opted to keep Tubelis on the bench over the final 10:01. He finished with 14 points and five rebounds.

“Sometimes you just get a feel for something and ride it out,” Lloyd said. “That defensive lineup is tough.”

Ballo and Koloko combined for five of their seven blocked shots in the second half.


UCLA: Plays at Arizona State on Saturday.

Arizona: Hosts No. 19 USC on Saturday.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

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

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK

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.