Thursday’s slate, what to watch centers on St. Mary’s-Gonzaga


The last time St. Mary’s and Gonzaga played, St. Mary’s turned things into a one-sided affair and sent a message to the Zags that their WCC reign might be ending.

Tonight could cement that notion.

The Gaels (22-2, 11-0) are one of eight teams who have yet to lose a conference game. Yet with four of their last six games on the road – starting tonight – there’s still time for Gonzaga to extend its conference title streak to 12 straight years.

Fairly certain this is one game Randy Bennett’s team would desperately like to win.

(All times ET; TV info from

St. Mary’s at Gonzaga, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
If the Gaels do win, it’ll be an upset. Gonzaga (18-4, 8-2) is favored by 2.5 points, which means oddsmakers consider it a toss-up. Home figures to play a huge role, too. Only Michigan State’s won at the Kennel this season, a place where the Zags actually play a little defense. The Gaels haven’t dipped below 1.06 PPP in any game since Dec. 22. We’ll see which aspect wins out tonight.

Wisconsin at Minnesota, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
A win would make the Gophers (17-7, 5-6) .500 in Big Ten play and be a huge boost for their at-large hopes. Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana and a trip to Wisconsin still remain, meaning holding the home court is huge. Won’t be easy against a Wisconsin team (18-6, 7-4) that’s won six of its last seven and nearly knocked off Ohio State on Saturday.

Washington at Oregon, 11 p.m. (FSN)
If the Pac-12’s leaders split their Thursday/Sunday tilt in Oregon, they could continue their improbable climb back to at-large NCAA tournament consideration. People had been waiting for Washington (16-7, 9-2) to play up to its talent. This’ll be the latest – and doable – test. BONUS! Hope the Huskies are ready to run. The Ducks (16-7, 7-4) are one of the few Pac-12 teams who like to play fast. Oregon State is the other (and the only team that plays faster than the Huskies).

Virginia Tech at Miami, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
How the Hokies (13-10, 2-6) haven’t won more ACC games is beyond me. Losses to Wake and Boston College are the things the ensure they’re always on the bubble. Meanwhile, we’ll see if Miami (14-7, 5-3) hits a wall after winning four in a row, including at Duke.

Nevada at Hawaii, midnight (ESPN-FC)
The Wolf Pack (19-4, 8-1) somehow lost to Idaho last weekend, one of the biggest head scratchers of the week. And now they head to Hawaii, a schools with one of the biggest home-court edges in college hoops.

Lehigh at American U., 7 p.m.
Maine at Boston U., 7 p.m.
Rider at Canisius, 7 p.m.
Utah Valley at NJIT, 7 p.m.
Albany (NY) at New Hampshire, 7 p.m.
Siena at Niagara, 7 p.m.
UMBC at Stony Brook, 7 p.m.
Manhattan at Fairfield, 7:30 p.m.
Marist at St. Peter’s, 8:30 p.m.

Winthrop at Campbell, 7 p.m.
High Point at Charleston Southern, 7 p.m.
Elon at Chattanooga, 7 p.m.
High Point at Coastal Carolina, 7 p.m.
W. Carolina at Coll. of Charleston, 7 p.m.
Denver at FAU, 7 p.m.
North Texas at FIU, 7 p.m.
Appalachian St. at Furman, 7 p.m.
Radford at Gardner-Webb, 7 p.m.
Wofford at Georgia Southern, 7 p.m.
NC State at Georgia Tech, 7 p.m.
Mississippi at Mississippi St., 7 p.m.
VMI at Presbyterian, 7 p.m.
Davidson at The Citadel, 7:05 p.m.
Liberty at Charleston Southern, 7:30 p.m.
W. Kentucky at Middle Tennessee, 8 p.m.
Tennessee St. at Murray St., 8 p.m.
UNC Greensboro at Samford, 8 p.m.
E. Illinois at Tennessee Tech, 8 p.m.
UALR at Louisiana-Lafayette, 8:05 p.m.
Arkansas St. at South Alabama, 8:05 p.m.
Virginia Tech at Miami, 9 p.m.

Valparaiso at Cleveland St., 7 p.m.
Wisconsin at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Butler at Youngstown St., 7:05 p.m.
Illinois at Indiana, 8 p.m.
UT-Martin at SE Missouri, 8 p.m.
S. Dakota St. at South Dakota, 8 p.m.
North Dakota at Chicago St., 8:05 p.m.
N. Dakota St. at UMKC, 8:05 p.m.
Wright St. at Green Bay, 9 p.m.
Iowa at Northwestern, 9 p.m.

IUPUI at Oral Roberts, 8:05 p.m.

Utah at Arizona St., 8:30 p.m.
Weber St. at N. Arizona, 8:35 p.m.
Colorado at Arizona, 9 p.m.
W. Illinois at S. Utah, 9 p.m.
Montana at N. Colorado, 9:05 p.m.
Louisiana Tech at Utah St., 9:05 p.m.
Washington St. at Oregon St., 10 p.m.
UC Riverside at Cal Poly, 10 p.m.
San Diego at Pepperdine, 10 p.m.
Loyola Marymount at Portland, 10 p.m.
Fresno St. at San Jose St., 10 p.m.
CS Northridge at UC Davis, 10 p.m.
UC Irvine at Cal St.-Fullerton, 10:05 p.m.
Portland St. at Idaho St., 10:05 p.m.
Montana St. at Sacramento St., 10:05 p.m.
Long Beach St. at Pacific, 10:30 p.m.
California at Southern Cal, 10:30 p.m.
Stanford at UCLA, 11 p.m.
Saint Mary’s (Cal) at Gonzaga, 11 p.m.
Washington at Oregon, 11 p.m.
Santa Clara at San Francisco, 11 p.m.
New Mexico St. at Idaho, 11:05 p.m.
Nevada at Hawaii, Mid

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Tennessee center Tamari Key out for season with blood clots

Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee senior center Tamari Key will miss the rest of this season because of blood clots in her lungs, coach Kellie Harper said.

Doctors found the issue during testing. Key is expected to make a full recovery after treatment from University of Tennessee doctors, Harper said, adding that her sole concern is Key getting the medical care she needs to heal and return to full strength.

Key missed the first game of her career in a win Tuesday night over Chattanooga after playing her first 99.

“This is much bigger than basketball. We are so grateful that this medical condition was caught,” Harper said in a statement. “Our entire program will be right beside Tamari during this process and welcomes prayers and positive thoughts from Lady Vol Nation and beyond.”

The Lady Vols opened the season ranked fifth but currently are 5-5.

The 6-foot-6 Key from Cary, North Carolina, currently is Tennessee’s third-leading scorer averaging 8.4 points a game and averaged 4.2 rebounds per game. She started all 34 games as the Lady Vols reached their first Sweet 16 since 2016 last season and set the school record with 119 blocked shots.

Key had 18 blocks this season and 295 for her career, five away from becoming the eighth woman to reach that mark in Southeastern Conference history.

No. 7 Tennessee beats Eastern Kentucky, win streak hits 7

tennessee basketball
1 Comment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tyreke Key scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half and finished with 17, and No. 7 Tennessee overcame a sluggish first half and beat Eastern Kentucky 84-49 on Wednesday night.

“Tyreke is handling the ball now,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s all new to him. He keeps getting better.”

The Volunteers (8-1) struggled in the first half but still built an 11-point lead over Eastern Kentucky (4-5) on the way to their seventh straight victory.

Key led Tennessee in scoring before leaving with a cramp in his right leg with 6:15 left in the game. Julian Phillips had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Zakai Zeigler and Uros Plavsic added 13 points apiece. Olivier Nkamhoua scored 10.

“I’m still settling in,” said Key, a transfer from Indiana State who didn’t play last year while recovering from an injury. “This is a new role. I’m taking steps every day and keep learning.”

Eastern Kentucky, which came into the game averaging 83.5 points, was held well below that total due to 17% (6 for 35) shooting from long range and 22% (15 for 68) overall. Leland Walker led the Colonels with 13 points.

It was the seventh time this season Tennessee has held its opponent to 50 or fewer points.

“(Tennessee) is the best defensive team in the country,” Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I think they’re the best team in the country.”

At one point in the first half, Tennessee was shooting 20% and still leading by 10 points. The teams combined to shoot 4 of 32 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The Vols, who shot 24% (8 of 34), led 32-21 at the break.

“If we can’t make shots, can you find a way to win the game?” Barnes said. “When the shot’s not going in, find a way to play. The first thing we talk about is our defense.”

Tennessee shot 41 free throws. Phillips, a true freshman, was 7 of 10.

“(Phillips) has learned the pace of the game,” Barnes said. “I’m not sure there’s been a more effective freshman in the country (this season).”


Since its early season slip against Colorado, Tennessee has had a steady ascent in the rankings. The Vols’ next two games – neutral site (Brooklyn) against No, 13 Maryland (Dec. 11) and at No. 10 Arizona (Dec. 17) – will go a long way toward justifying the No. 7 ranking.


Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels’ run-and-gun style of offense had them averaging 83.5 points through their first eight games. They ran into a defensive buzz saw in Tennessee, which was yielding just over 51 points.

Tennessee: Santiago Vescovi sat out his second straight game with a shoulder problem. He is expected to be ready to play Sunday against Maryland. . The Vols have won seven in a row since their loss to Colorado.


Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels host Boyce College on Saturday.

Tennessee: Take on No. 13 Maryland on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Invitational in New York.

Hoggard scores career-high 23, Michigan State snaps 2-game skid

michigan state basketball
Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A.J. Hoggard scored a career-high 23 points, Joey Hauser had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Michigan State beat Penn State 67-58 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Michigan State (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten) avoided going .500 or worse after 10 games for the first time in 18 seasons.

Hoggard blocked an open layup with less than a minute to play and Hauser grabbed the rebound before being fouled and making two free throws at the other end for a 66-58 lead.

Hoggard, Hauser and Tyson Walker combined for 31 of Michigan State’s 32 second-half points.

The Michigan State defense allowed only one made field goal in the final five minutes. Penn State was just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half after 7 of 18 before halftime.

Walker scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half for Michigan State. Hoggard, who entered third in the conference in assists at 6.3, had six rebounds, two assists and one key block.

Hoggard gave Michigan State 35-33 lead – its first since 4-2 – after back-to-back three-point plays with 59.3 seconds left in the first half. It was tied at 35-all at the break.

Seth Lundy scored 16 points and Jalen Pickett had 13 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists for Penn State (6-3, 0-1)

Michigan State hosts Brown on Saturday. Penn State, which hadn’t played since a double-overtime loss to Clemson on Nov. 29, plays at No. 17 Illinois on Saturday.

No. 7 Virginia Tech posts 9th straight win, beats Boston College 73-58

virginia tech basketball
Erica Denhoff/Getty Images

BOSTON — Reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Elizabeth Kitley had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Cayla King scored 16 on Wednesday night to lead No. 7 Virginia Tech to a 73-58 victory over Boston College, the Hokies’ ninth straight win.

Taylor Soule, one of two BC transfers on the roster for Virginia Tech (9-0, 1-0 ACC), added nine points and five rebounds. Soule scored more than 1,500 points and grabbed almost 700 rebounds in four seasons at BC, earning All-ACC honors three times.

Andrea Daley scored 15 points and Maria Gakdeng scored 14 for BC (7-4, 0-1). They each grabbed six rebounds.

Virginia Tech scored 17 of the game’s first 21 points and led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before BC cut the deficit to 10 in the fourth. Leading 64-54 with under three minutes left and the shot clock expiring, Kayana Traylor hit a 3-pointer for the Hokies.

Gakdeng missed two free throws for BC, and then Kitley scored from inside to make it a 15-point game.

Clara Ford, who also played four years in Chestnut Hill, pitched in 2 points in 2 minutes against her former team.


At No. 7, the Hokies have the highest ranking in the program’s history. With the victory over BC, a 10th straight win against North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday would leave Virginia Tech in position to move up even higher should a top five team falter.


Virginia Tech: Hosts North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday.

Boston College: Hosts Albany on Saturday.

Michigan’s Jaelin Llewellyn out for season with knee injury

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan point guard Jaelin Llewellyn is out for the rest of the season with an injured left knee and is expected to have surgery next month.

Wolverines coach Juwan Howard made the announcement three days after Llewellyn was hurt in a loss to Kentucky in London.

Llewellyn transferred to Michigan from Princeton last spring and that seemed to lead to Frankie Collins transferring to Arizona State after a solid freshman season for the Wolverines.

Llewellyn averaged seven points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games at Michigan. He was an All-Ivy League player last season and averaged nearly 16 points over three seasons at Princeton.