Syracuse star Boeheim suspended after punch during ACC game

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NEW YORK – Syracuse star Buddy Boeheim was suspended for the Orange’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament game against Duke after he punched a Florida State player in the stomach Wednesday during a second-round victory.

The ACC announced the one-game suspension for a “flagrant act” about four hours after ninth-seeded Syracuse beat eighth-seeded Florida State 96-57 to advance to the quarterfinals Thursday at Barclays Center.

The senior, the son of Orange coach Jim Boeheim, earlier released a statement acknowledging he was wrong.

“In the heat of today’s game, after some shoving in the lane, I swung my arm while turning to go back up court. It was wrong to act out in frustration,” Boeheim said in a statement posted on Syracuse basketball’s Twitter account. “I apologized to Wyatt Wilkes multiple times in the handshake line. He said not to worry about it, but I know it was wrong.”

If the Orange (16-16) lose to Duke, Boeheim is likely to have played his last college game. He has indicated several times this season he did not intend to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted athletes for competing during the pandemic-altered 2020-21 season.

Syracuse is not in contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and the NIT also seems unlikely if the Orange fall below .500 with a loss to Duke.

Boeheim was not called for a foul on the play, which happened after Syracuse made a basket.

“I saw the play, the kid pushed him twice,” Jim Boeheim said. “I think it was inadvertent. It wasn’t much of a punch.”

Jim Boeheim dismissed the idea of his son possibly being suspended when asked about it. He said if officials had noticed the play a flagrant 1 foul might have been called on Buddy Boeheim. The coach did concede Buddy Boeheim had retaliated for being pushed.

Buddy Boeheim leads the ACC in scoring at 19.3 points per game.

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton diffused the situation during his postgame news conference, praising the younger Boeheim’s character.

“I don’t want anything to take away from how well they played and what type of fine young man he is,” Hamilton said. “The game is physical. We expect guys to go out and bang and be aggressive. If something inadvertently happens sometimes we want to categorize it in one way or another.”

“I’ve lost my composure sometimes. I’ve made some mistakes.”

Wilkes doubled over and squatted for a moment after being struck about midway through the first half. He continued to play.

The two players were seen speaking to each other after the game, with Boeheim walking away smiling.

“I pride myself in respecting the game and and our opponent,” Boeheim said. “I will not react that away again.”

The situation was reminiscent of another infamous moment in ACC history, involving a high-profile player.

In 2005, Wake Forest’s Chris Paul hit North Carolina State’s Julius Hodge below the belt during the team’s regular-season finale. No foul was called, but Wake Forest suspended Paul after consulting with the ACC for its first conference tournament game.

Boeheim has become one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the country while playing for his Hall of Fame coach father. For his career, Boeheim has averaged 14.6 points per game and made 306 3s.

Boeheim helped the Orange reach the NCAA Sweet 16 last year with some sharp shooting to back up his “Buddy Buckets” moniker. This year he was named first-team all-ACC.

Syracuse lost both meetings against No. 7 Duke this season, the first by 20 points on the road and then by 25 points at home.

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.