Emoni Bates says he’s transferring to hometown E. Michigan

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YPSILANTI, Mich. — Emoni Bates, one of the top recruits in the 2021 men’s basketball recruiting class, says he is transferring from Memphis to Eastern Michigan.

Bates, in an Instagram post, announced his decision to return to his hometown of Ypsilanti to play for the Eagles of the Mid-American Conference. An EMU spokesman said he could not confirm Bates’ transfer.

Bates averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game his freshman season at Memphis and started 13 of 18 games. He missed 15 games because of a back injury before appearing in the Tigers’ two NCAA Tournament games.

The 6-foot-9 forward announced in April that he would leave Memphis and later said he would decide among Michigan, Arkansas, Seton Hall, DePaul, Louisville and Eastern Michigan.

Bates originally was on track to be in the 2022 recruiting class, but last summer he reclassified to the class of 2021 and signed with Penny Hardaway at Memphis after de-committing from Michigan State.

Eastern Michigan was 10-21 overall and 5-15 in the MAC last season and has not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 1998.

Emoni Bates leaving Memphis for transfer portal after 1 year

Emoni Bates
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Emoni Bates, the five-star recruit who reclassified to 2021, has announced he’s entering the transfer portal after one season at Memphis.

Bates announced his decision on his Instagram account, saying he thanked Memphis coach Penny Hardaway and the rest of his coaching staff for giving him a chance to be a Tiger.

The 6-foot-9 forward has been called a generational talent and projected as the No. 1 overall pick when he becomes eligible for the NBA draft after he turns 19 in 2023. He reclassified to the class of 2021 last August and joined former AAU teammate Jalen Duren at Memphis.

The Tigers earned their first NCAA Tournament berth in eight years with Duren and Bates.

But Bates, from Ypsilanti, Michigan, started only 13 of 18 games and averaged 9.7 points, fifth most for Memphis. Bates played a game against East Carolina on Jan. 27, then didn’t play again for the Tigers until NCAA Tournament. He played three minutes against Boise State, then 12 in a loss to Gonzaga.

Reports: Memphis, Hardaway facing serious NCAA violations

Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The University of Memphis and men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway have been accused of serious violations of NCAA rules, including failing to cooperate with an investigation, two newspapers reported.

The Daily Memphian and The Commercial Appeal reported that they obtained copies of a notice of allegations from an investigation by the NCAA’s Independent Accountability Resolution Process.

The newspapers also obtained a response from the university denying the allegations. The university said the notice “contains no specific facts, and it is the specific facts that are imperative for the resolution of this matter.”

The allegations come after Memphis lost to Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last week.

Alleged infractions include four Level I and two Level II violations, according to an amended notice of allegations the university received in July 2021. Level I and Level II violations are considered the most serious NCAA infractions.

The school received seven total accusations, including alleged violations of NCAA clauses related to lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. Hardaway was involved in at least one Level I infraction and two Level II violations stemming from the NCAA’s investigation that ran from May 2019 to February 2021, the notice said.

Many details and allegations included in the documents have been redacted.

The alleged violations appear to coincide with the time former Tigers player and prized recruit James Wiseman spent at Memphis. Wiseman had received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017, when Hardaway was the coach at East High School in Memphis.

Although Hardaway wasn’t Memphis’ coach at the time of the payment, the NCAA ruled it wasn’t allowed because he was a booster for the program. The former NBA All-Star gave $1 million in 2008 to his alma mater for the university’s sports hall of fame.

Hardaway became the Memphis coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

Wiseman played the first game of the 2019-20 season before the NCAA ruled Wiseman ineligible. He played two more games after filing a restraining order against the NCAA.

On Nov. 20, the NCAA suspended Wiseman for 12 games and ordered him to repay $11,500 in the form of a donation to the charity of choice. Wiseman now plays for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

Also, data from a computer hard drive belonging to a former assistant coach was not preserved, the notice said. The university’s response indicated the computer belonged to Mike Miller, a former NBA player.

The IARP’s Complex Case Unit alleges Memphis failed to cooperate with the investigation, including failing to report acts of noncompliance in a timely manner. Hardaway “failed to demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance within the men’s basketball program,” the notice said.

“The Institution failed to timely produce requested and relevant documents,” the amended notice of allegations said. “Specifically, on August 26, 2020, the CCU submitted document requests to the Institution seeking various categories of documents including but not limited to communications and text messages.”

In its response, the university said “the facts do not demonstrate a lack of institutional control, a failure to monitor, a failure to cooperate or a lack of (redacted) responsibility.”

“UM has presented facts that show institutional control, ongoing and appropriate monitoring, cooperation, a culture of compliance, and head coach responsibility,” the school’s response letter stated.

The university declined comment in a statement obtained by the newspapers Saturday, saying the school “is not permitted to comment due to the ongoing IARP process.”

The Complex Case Unit also identified aggravating factors, including a history of Level I and Level II violations that could be considered when handing out penalties. The unit cited violations in 2009, 2005, 1989 and 1986.

Also, Memphis’ established history of self-reporting Level III violations will be considered. The school has reported 32 violations in the past three years.

Top-seeded Gonzaga rallies in 2nd half to beat Memphis 82-78

Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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PORTLAND, Ore. — Drew Timme scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, and top overall seed Gonzaga rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat No. 9 seed Memphis 82-78 on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Trailing at the half for only the fourth time this season, Gonzaga leaned on its star junior to reach its seventh straight Sweet 16. The Bulldogs (28-3) will face No. 4 seed Arkansas in the West Region semifinals on Thursday in San Francisco.

Andrew Nembhard added 23 points for the Bulldogs, Rasir Bolton scored 17 and Gonzaga never trailed after a basket from Timme and Bolton’s 3-pointer with 10 minutes remaining that made it 61-57.

But Memphis (22-11) didn’t go away. The Tigers pulled even at 66 on DeAndre Williams’ basket. After Nembhard’s 3 put the Bulldogs up 76-69, the Tigers still made it a one-possession game with 32 seconds left on Lester Quinones’ 3-pointer.

Nembhard, the only consistent free-throw shooter for Gonzaga on the night, made four at the foul line in the final 25 seconds.

Williams scored 14 points for Memphis but sat a big chunk of the second half with foul trouble. Tyler Harris had 11 of his 14 points in the first half and Quinones finished with 10.

The matchup between future NBA lottery picks Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga and Jalen Duren of Memphis never fully materialized because of foul trouble. Duren finished with seven points and seven rebounds but played just 19 minutes and sat for more than 10 minutes of the second half after picking up his fourth foul.

Holmgren had nine points, nine rebounds and four blocks before fouling out in the final seconds.

For a while, Memphis looked willing and able to spoil what was essentially a Gonzaga home game a 6-hour drive from its campus. Memphis dominated the latter stages of the first half and built a 41-31 lead at the break as nervous energy filled Moda Center.

Timme erupted to start the second half, scoring the first 11 points for the Bulldogs and in the process helping land Duren and Williams in foul trouble. Timme knocked down a 3-pointer, hit a pair of tough jumpers and scored on a slick baseline reverse to erase a big chunk of Memphis’ halftime lead.

From there, he got help from Bolton and Nembhard. The trio combined for 42 of Gonzaga’s 51 points in the second half.

BIG PICTURE

Memphis: The Tigers’ season started with high expectations and ended with an impressive showing against Gonzaga. The Tigers are likely to look far different next season with Duren expected to head to the NBA. Fellow freshman Emoni Bates could follow.

Gonzaga: Free-throw shooting continues to be a major concern for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga went 13 for 24 at the line after going 16 for 30 in the first round against Georgia State.

UP NEXT

The Zags will face the Razorbacks in the round of 16. The last time Gonzaga failed to reach the Sweet 16 was in 2014 as a No. 8 seed.

Memphis holds off Boise State rally for 64-53 1st-round win

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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PORTLAND, Ore. — DeAndre Williams had 14 points, Jalen Duren made a crucial basket down the stretch and No. 9 seed Memphis held off a second-half rally by Boise State for a 64-53 victory Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Tigers (22-10), whose poor start to the season had coach Penny Hardaway dropping expletives in a press conference, are into the second round in the West Region and will play top-seeded Gonzaga or Georgia State on Saturday.

Duren finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers, who were 9-8 after 17 games but went on a late-season charge to reach the tournament for the first time since 2014. The Tigers have now won 13 of their past 15 games.

Abu Kigab had 20 points to lead the eighth-seeded Broncos (27-8), the Mountain West regular-season and tournament champs, who were making their first appearance in the tournament since 2015..

Boise State trailed by 19 at the half but, taking advantage of a cold snap by the Tigers, narrowed the gap to 42-35 with 9:45 left. The Tigers had scored just four second-half points before Williams’ dunk with 9:18 left got them going again.

Kigab hit a 3-pointer and a short jumper to get Boise State within 49-43 with 5:55 remaining, but Williams answered again with a 30-pointer for the Tigers. And when the Broncos closed to 56-51 with 1:26 left on Naje Smith’s layup, and the teams traded foul shots, Duren’s layup pushed the margin to 60-53 and gave Memphis some breathing room.

Alex Lomax, hobbled in the first half by an ankle injury, added some clinching free throws for the Tigers.

It was a disappointing finish to a dream season for longtime coach Leon Rice, whose Boise State teams had been dumped from the NCAA Tournament in First Four games their past two trips. The Broncos beat San Diego State to win the Mountain West tourney title and their 27 wins set the school record for a single season.

If it was a dream season for the Broncos, a good chunk of it was a nightmare for Hardaway and the Tigers. They had one of the nation’s top recruiting class, led by Duren and fellow early arrival Emoni Bates, but Hardaway struggled to find a solid lineup until January – Bates had not played since Jan. 27 because of a back injury.

The Tigers have hit their stride down the stretch, though, reaching the title game of the American Athletic Conference tourney before losing to Houston. And they kept that momentum going into Thursday’s first-round game, going on an 8-0 run early to take a 27-17 lead when Bates hit a 3-pointer with 4:26 left in the half.

Lomax hit a 3 a few minutes later that gave Memphis a 38-19 lead at the break, but he came down hard and appeared to injure his left ankle. He was limping as he headed for the Tigers’ bench but returned to start the second half.

BATES IS BACK

Bates, who reclassified as a freshman, traveled to Portland with the team but it wasn’t certain he would play until the moment he stepped on the court. He warmed up before tipoff and was in uniform for the game, finally checking in with 5:57 left in the first half. His 3-pointer was his only points of the game.

BIG PICTURE

Memphis, which beat Boise State in last year’s NIT, had a big advantage on the boards (39-30) to overcome 15 turnovers and pull away down the stretch. But it will take a better performance on the offense end if the Tigers want to beat their likely second-round opponent Gonzaga, the national runner-up a year ago.

Boise State, which ranked 17th in the nation for defensive efficiency, had not trailed by more than seven points at halftime before Thursday. The Broncos nearly overcame the deficit but it proved to be simply too much.

UP NEXT

Memphis faces Gonzaga or Georgia State for a spot in the Sweet 16.

Memphis tops No. 14 Houston 75-61

Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tyler Harris scored 15 points and Landers Nolley and Lester Quinones added 11 each to lead Memphis to a 75-61 victory over No. 14 Houston on Sunday.

Kyler Edwards led Houston (26-5) with 19 points.

The Tigers won for the 10th time in 11 games and defeated Houston for the second time this season. Memphis (19-9) beat the Cougars 69-59 last month in Houston to snap the Cougars’ 37-game home winning streak.

The Tigers finished 13-5 in the American Athletic Conference. The 13 conference wins broke the single-season record for the Tigers, who won 12 in 2013-14.

The Tigers won their third consecutive game against a ranked opponent for the first time since the 2007-08 season, when they reached the national championship game against Kansas.

The strong finish to the season may have earned Memphis an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers have not appeared in the NCAAs since 2014.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position we should be proud of,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said. “We understood what the mission was and our guys carried out the mission.”

The Tigers defeated a Houston team that clinched the AAC title for the third time in four seasons last week with a victory over Cincinnati.

“There’s no doubt Memphis was NCAA-tournament worthy today,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said.

The Tigers shot 48 percent, including 47 percent (7 of 15) from beyond the arc.

After surging to a 20-point halftime lead, Memphis was never challenged in the second half. The closest the Cougars got was 13 points (59-46) with 12:24 to go.

Memphis jumped to an 11-4 lead in the opening five minutes by converting five Houston turnovers into seven points. The Tigers’ lead stretched to 14 points (28-14) with eight minutes to go in the first half on Nolley’s 3-pointer and increased to 22 points (42-20) on Quinones’ 3-pointer – following Memphis’ eighth steal – with 3:56 to go.

Memphis senior guard Alex Lomax said the huge, boisterous crowd (17,946) played a role in the fast start of a wire-to-wire victory.

“I feel (Houston) got nervous when they felt the (crowd’s) energy,” said Lomax, who had five steals. “It was so loud you could feel it in your body. It can make you make a terrible pass.”

The Tigers finished with 14 steals, part of a season-worst 20 turnovers by the Cougars.

The Tigers led 49-29 at halftime after shooting 57 percent and scoring 20 points off turnovers. The Memphis bench contributed 20 points in first half, led by 13 from Harris.

BIG PICTURE

Memphis: The Tigers earned their fourth Quad 1 victory. The Tigers are 4-3 in NCAA Net Quad 1 games. … The Tigers’ bench outscored Houston 29-2. … Memphis made 28 consecutive free throws against Houston (Feb. 12 in Houston and Sunday) before a late first-half miss by Lester Quinones.

Houston: The 20 turnovers were the most committed by the Cougars this season. Memphis scored 28 points off turnovers. … Fabian White was held to 11 points in 33 minutes after scoring 20 or more points in each of his previous three games. … Jamal Shead, who leads the AAC in assists at 5.9 per game, had a game-high eight assists.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Houston should remain in the Top 25 for a school-record 44th consecutive week, although the Cougars will fall from their spot at No. 14. Memphis has won 10 of 11, including two over Houston during the stretch, and may sneak into the Top 25 before the start of AAC tournament play later this week in Fort Worth, Texas.

UP NEXT

Memphis and Houston will begin play in the AAC tournament, which starts Thursday. Houston is a lock for an NCAA tournament invitation regardless of what happens in Fort Worth. Memphis may have earned an at-large berth with Sunday’s win.