No. 6 KU beats No. 14 Texas Tech 74-65 to win Big 12 tourney

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – David McCormack had 18 points and 11 rebounds, Ochai Agbaji made a pair of clinching foul shots with just over a minute to go, and sixth-ranked Kansas beat No. 14 Texas Tech 74-65 on Saturday night to win the Big 12 Tournament title.

Agbaji finished with 16 points, Christian Braun had 14 and Jalen Wilson and Remy Martin 12 apiece to lead the Jayhawks (27-6), who showcased poise and resilience in the final minutes while the Red Raiders fumbled away a chance at the title.

Texas Tech trailed 63-58 with about 4 minutes to go when Terrence Shannon Jr. was called for charging. Kevin Obanor turned it over on the Red Raiders’ next possession, then stepped over the end line while trying to inbound the ball for another turnover, each of them allowing the Jayhawks to draw away down the stretch.

The heavily pro-Kansas crowd began its haunting “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk” chant with 28.6 seconds left on the clock, and coach Bill Self’s squad coasted to its 12th conference tournament title since the league’s inception in 1996-97.

It probably locked up a No. 1 seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament, too.

Shannon finished with 14 points, and Bryson Williams had 17 for the Red Raiders (25-9), who still have never won the Big 12 Tournament. They also lost to Oklahoma State in their only other championship appearance in 2005.

The teams, who finished a game apart in the Big 12, waged a pair of nip-and-tuck classics during the regular season with each winning at home. Their game at Allen Fieldhouse may have been the league’s best all year, a back-and-forth showdown that went to double overtime before the Jayhawks escaped with the win.

Just how evenly matched were they Saturday night?

Neither team scored more than five straight points in the first half. Neither led by more than four. Neither scored more than two straight baskets without the other team providing some kind of answer at the other end.

Even when it looked as if Kansas was building some momentum, and Martin knocked down a long jumper to make it 37-33 in the final minute, Williams provided an answering 3-pointer to keep the Red Raiders within a point at the half.

It remained close throughout the second half.

When Kansas edged ahead by five, Shannon and the Red Raiders responded with seven straight points. When Texas Tech took a 54-51 lead with 11:20 to go, Wilson and Agbaji – the tournament’s MVP – provided back-to-back buckets that began a 12-2 charge and gave the Jayhawks a 63-56 lead with less than 5 minutes to play.

They showcased the veteran poised needed to maintain it the rest of the way.

BIG PICTURE

Texas Tech was still within 64-60 with 3:06 to play, but Kansas scored the next six points as the Red Raiders continued to wilt under the pressure. It was a stunning departure from the norm for a team that starts a junior (Shannon) alongside five seniors and that has played in plenty of tight games this season.

Kansas overcame a poor performance from beyond the arc (3 for 22) by doing the little things: The Jayhawks took care of the ball, made the extra pass and got to the foul line. They were 25 of 32 on their free throws, including big ones from Agbaji – the league’s player of the year – when the outcome was on the line.

UP NEXT

It’s time for Selection Sunday. The Jayhawks have an eye on one of the four No. 1 seeds while the Red Raiders could land as high as the No. 2 line after their spirited run to the Big 12 Tournament title game.

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.