TCU boosts NCAA hopes with 69-66 upset of No. 9 Texas Tech

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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FORT WORTH, Texas – Mike Miles and the TCU Horned Frogs needed at least one victory in a stretch of four consecutive games against ranked opponents to help their case for the NCAA Tournament.

A second-half rally against No. 9 Texas Tech might have done the trick.

Miles scored 26 points, Xavier Cork dunked for the go-ahead bucket late and TCU rallied for a 69-66 victory in a wild back-and-forth finish Saturday night.

The Horned Frogs (18-9, 7-8 Big 12) trailed by 11 points early in the second half and went ahead for the first time after the break on a 3-pointer by Francisco Farabello for a 61-60 lead.

TCU’s victory came after losing a 10-point lead in the second half at 20th-ranked Texas. The next two are back-to-back against No. 5 Kansas before a regular-season finale at last-place West Virginia.

An eighth league win almost certainly would be enough. The seventh the Horned Frogs just secured might be.

“We’ve done a lot of things,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “Our league is just ridiculous. There’s going to be some teams that are way better than other teams that make it as at-larges, just because the league’s so tough top to bottom.”

Farabello’s bucket started a stretch of seven consecutive possessions in which the lead changed hands inside the 4-minute mark, with equally loud cheers after each bucket because of the large red-clad Texas Tech contingent in the crowd.

The Horned Frogs finally protected the lead by forcing a shot-clock violation from the Red Raiders (22-7, 11-5) with 34 seconds left after Cork’s dunk put TCU ahead 67-66 with 1:11 remaining.

Miles made one of two free throws with 24 seconds to go before former Texas Tech player Micah Peavy stole an entry pass intended for Bryson Williams, who scored 21 points.

Peavy missed a free throw that would have put the Horned Frogs up four, but Terrence Shannon Jr. and Adonis Arms missed 3-pointers before Peavy got a rebound.

After Peavy missed two more free throws, the Red Raiders called timeout as the buzzer sounded, leading to 0.5 seconds being put on the clock. Williams caught the long inbound pass and hit a turnaround 3-pointer, but it was after the buzzer.

TCU students celebrated with players at midcourt with the officials roped off checking the replay, which confirmed that Williams’ shot was late. It was the end of a four-game Texas Tech winning streak that started with a victory over the Horned Frogs in Lubbock.

“In my gut, I felt like if we couldn’t separate when we were up six, eight, nine, 10 points, it was going to be a game,” first-year Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said. “We went back-and-forth at that margin for a while but they just started getting closer and closer and got some momentum and confidence. And we could never get it turned around.”

Emanuel Miller scored 11 points for the Horned Frogs, and Damion Baugh added 10.

Arms had 15 points for the Red Raiders, while Warren scored 12.

BIG PICTURE

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders missed a chance to finish their first regular-season sweep of Baylor, Texas and TCU in 26 years. The last one was in 1995-96, the last season of the Southwest Conference. The Horned Frogs joined the Big 12 in 2012-13.

TCU: The Horned Frogs trailed for long stretches, and part of the reason they stayed close was solid 3-point shooting from Miles and Baugh. Both came in shooting less than 30% from long range. They combined to go 5 of 11.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Red Raiders might have another one-week stay in the top 10 of The Associated Press poll. They got in for the first time two weeks ago, but a loss at Oklahoma knocked them out right away. This loss puts them at risk of dropping out again.

ROLLER-COASTER RIDE

The split crowd made the back-and-forth finish more entertaining. Farabello’s go-ahead 3 sent a raucous student section into a frenzy, and the roar was just as loud when Arms answered with a dunk. Miles drove for an easy layup, then Tech got another dunk from Williams.

After two free throws from Williams, Warren hit a driving layup. Then Cork dunked on an assist from Miles. TCU shot 55% in the second half against one of the nation’s best teams in field goal percentage defense.

“It was a high-level game, which shouldn’t surprise you in this league and the way we’re playing and the way they’re playing,” Dixon said. “We know how good they are on the defensive end, so I’m sure they wonder about our shooting percentage against them.”

UP NEXT

Texas Tech: The home finale is Monday against Kansas State.

TCU: The first of two against the Jayhawks is at home Tuesday. The rematch is Thursday in Lawrence, a game that was postponed in early January because of COVID-19 issues with the Horned Frogs.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
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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

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
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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

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
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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.