Coach K reaches ACC championship in his final tournament

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NEW YORK — Mike Krzyzewski’s last Atlantic Coast Conference tournament will end in the final game.

Paolo Banchero had 18 points and 11 rebounds and No. 7 Duke held off Miami with free throws in the final minute as the Blue Devils and their retiring Hall of Fame coach advanced to the ACC championship with an 80-76 victory Friday night.

Top-seeded Duke (28-5) will face the winner of the second semifinal between third-seeded North Carolina and seventh-seeded Virginia Tech in Saturday night’s championship at Barclays Center.

Banchero was asked during a postgame interview with ESPN who he wanted to face in the final and responded: “UNC.”

Krzyzewski put an end to that in his postgame news conference saying, “We’ll be honored to play either team.”

Less than a week ago, the Tar Heels upset Duke in Krzyzewski’s home finale to spoil the retirement party.

AJ Griffin, who went to high school just north of New York City in White Plains, scored 21 points, including three free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal Coach K’s 22nd appearance in the ACC title game.

Krzyzewski has won a conference-record 15 ACC championships, but he is trying hard to move the focus away from his farewell tour and onto his players.

“I’m trying to get away from all that, it’s really too much,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s their season. It’s all about them. I don’t want to be a distraction to them. They only get it once. I’ve had it numerous times.”

Kameron McGusty scored 24 points to lead the Hurricanes (23-10), who beat the Blue Devils on the road earlier this season and appear to be in solid shape for an NCAA Tournament bid.

The size and strength of the Blue Devils in the paint was hard to handle for the Hurricanes. Banchero, coming off a poor shooting game in a win against Syracuse that also went down to the wire, was 8 for 10 from the field with almost all of his damage coming inside.

“I was just out there playing, but doing it aggressively,” the star freshman said.

But Krzyzewski has been complaining about Duke’s defensive play recently and this was another soft performance on that end – until the last five minutes.

McGusty and Jordan Miller (17 points, 11 rebounds) got plenty of good looks on mid-range jumpers and near the rim. The two combined to shoot 19 for 35 as the Hurricanes finished 47 percent from the floor.

Sam Waardenburg made a corner 3 for Miami with 5 minutes left that tied the score at 65 with 5:00 left. The ‘Canes then went more than four minutes without another field goal.

Wendell Moore Jr. made two free throws for Duke with 58.6 seconds left to put the Blue Devils up 72-69.

Duke nudged the lead up to 77-71 with more free throws before another corner 3 by Waardenburg cut the lead to 3 with 16.7 seconds left, but the Hurricanes never got another chance to tie or take the lead.

The Hurricanes led by as many as 11 in the first half, but Griffin scored 12 straight points late for Duke and Jeremy Roach closed the half with a full-court dash and layup to tie it at 36.

Duke last won the ACC Tournament in 2019 with Zion Williamson. The Blue Devils also won the first ACC Tournament played in Brooklyn in 2017.

BIG PICTURE

Miami: The Hurricanes played a solid offensive game, but shot 6 for 12 from the line.

Duke: The Blue Devils did a lot of their best work off the dribble, which led to only nine assists on 29 field goals.

UP NEXT

Miami: The Hurricanes await their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2018.

Duke: The Blue Devils split two games against North Carolina this season. They opened the ACC season in December by beating Virginia Tech 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.