Carolina routs Marquette 95-63 in Davis’ NCAA coaching debut

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

FORT WORTH, Texas – Hubert Davis was quick to point out the first NCAA Tournament victory for Caleb Love and other North Carolina players.

The Tar Heels coach was less interested in what it meant to win his tournament debut for a storied program that also is his alma mater.

Brady Manek scored 28 points and Love needed just 19 minutes to tie Carolina’s single-game tournament record of six 3-pointers in a 95-63 rout of Marquette on Thursday, the biggest blowout in a matchup of 8-9 seeds in tournament history.

Love scored 21 of his 23 points before halftime as the eighth-seeded Tar Heels (25-9) built a 28-point lead. They play defending national champion Baylor on Saturday.

The win was in stark contrast to last year, when the Tar Heels sent Roy Williams into retirement with his only opening-round loss in 30 NCAA appearances.

“Honestly, it really doesn’t mean anything to me personally,” said Davis, a player from 1988-92. “When I see Caleb and Brady and Armando (Bacot) playing well like they did today, I know all the hard work that was put in during the summer and late nights, early in the mornings. It’s almost like a father. I’ve got three kids, and it’s a feeling of just being proud.”

Shaka Smart’s return to Texas was a dud a year after he took the Marquette job amid questions about his future as coach of the Texas Longhorns following a shocking first-round loss to Abilene Christian.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper scored 16 points for the No. 9 seed Golden Eagles (19-13), who lost their third consecutive first-round game.

“I told the guys in the locker room after the game, we’re not going to evaluate the entirety of our season based on one game,” Smart said. “We’re obviously really, really disappointed and upset with how today’s game went. It’s not up to standard that we set.”

Manek, the Oklahoma transfer who had a pair of first-round wins with the Sooners, finished with five 3s as he and Love combined to go 11 of 23 from long range.

Bacot matched Manek’s double-double while grabbing 10 rebounds on his way to the school season record (422). He scored 17 points. RJ Davis had a career-high 12 assists.

Smart, who lost all three of his first-round games in six seasons with the Longhorns, had one of three Marquette technical fouls in a span of 90 seconds late in the first half when he complained about a no-call. Kur Kuath got one for hanging on the rim after a dunk. Darryl Morsell was penalized on review after a scramble for a loose ball.

Just before the tech spree, Morsell ended up nose-to-nose with Love after trying to take the ball out of his hands when Love was called for stepping on the midcourt line while trying to dribble around the stocky Marquette guard.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Love said. “We don’t back down from anything. Just my competitive nature and my team’s competitive nature, just came out and, you know, we played it smart.”

The Tar Heels were already up 18 when players from both teams had to be separated. It quickly got worse from there.

Carolina finished the first half on a 16-4 run for a 53-25 lead, and Manek made it a 34-point game (67-33) with consecutive 3s early in the second half. The biggest lead for the Tar Heels was 35.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: The last time Carolina played Marquette in the NCAA Tournament, in 2011, the Tar Heels had 25 points at halftime. They bounced back to win that game 81-63.

Marquette: A solid shooting team most of the season, the Golden Eagles struggled badly from the field early. They were shooting 22% after three misses at the rim in the same sequence. They finished at 36%.

NO BACKING DOWN

After the Love-Morsell standoff, Davis turned to his bench with emphatic words of encouragement.

“I’ve been clear and definitive to the guys about what we need to do out there on the floor,” Davis said. “There’s been a number of times where teams have tried to push us around. And the only way that you can change that narrative of people thinking they can do that is if you swing back and be the first one to swing.”

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

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
0 Comments

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
1 Comment

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

uconn
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
0 Comments

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

Getty Images
0 Comments

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.