Player of the Year Power Rankings: It’s essentially a two-man race at this point

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1. Jahlil Okafor, Duke
2. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: The Player of the Year race is, as it has essentially been all season long, a two-man race at this point. And, quite frankly, I’m not sure how much more I can say about these two beyond “I hope we get a rematch in March”.

3. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: Grant is one of the best point guards in the country in pick-and-roll situations and he plays in an offensive that is almost entirely built around spreading the floor with shooters and letting him, and to a lesser extent Demetrius Jackson, use ball-screen actions. Should I mention that the Irish are first in adjusted offensive efficiency, and that Grant’s ability on that end of the floor is the reason that Notre Dame has overcome a defense that ranks outside the top 150 to be 19-2 and ranked in the top ten? Yeah, I probably should.

4. Delon Wright, Utah: Wright is embracing the role that Utah needs him to play this season. He doesn’t have to be a dominant scorer or an elite shooter, he needs to be an aggressive penetrator that creates open looks for his teammates. He’s had at least five assists in every game since December 23rd and has missed just three free throws during that span. He’s protecting the ball — the Arizona loss was the only game he’s had more than two turnovers December 10th — and, most importantly, he’s shooting 40 percent from three the last four games.

5. D’angelo Russell, Ohio State: My biggest concern with D’angelo Russell early on this season was that the majority of his damage was coming against mediocre competition. When he was squaring off against high-major opponents, he was getting tuned up. Of late, that’s not true whatsoever. In his last three games, he’s averaging 27.3 points, 9.0 boards and 6.0 assists. On the season, his numbers are ridiculous: 19.4 points, 5.2 boards, 5.1 assists, 1.8 steals, 47.7 FG%, 44.4 3PT%.

You can look at a box score and realize just how productive Russell is. You can see is insane, cross-court bounce passes and his ability to beat people off the dribble to realize how skilled he is. But what impresses me more is how well he seems to understand the game. Two examples stand out from the Ohio State win over Indiana. In the first, you can see Russell create a switch and a mismatch in the post for Marc Loving with a back-screen and immediately call for the Sam Thompson to swing the ball and create a chance for a high-low entry pass:

In the second, Russell throws a pass to Jae’Sean Tate in the middle of Indiana’s zone while Tate is pointing for the ball to be passed to someone else. In other words, Russell knows you’re open before you know you’re open:

6. Melo Trimble, Maryland: Trimble did not have his best game of the season on Tuesday of last week, when the Terps got trucked by Indiana in Assembly Hall, but he followed that up with 27 points as Maryland came from behind to knock off Northwestern at home.

7. Georges Niang, Iowa State: I’m torn on how I should rank Niang here. His versatility is such an integral part of what makes Iowa State good. He’s a point guard in a power forward’s body, which allows the Cyclones to invert their offense; there are only three players that average 14.0 points, 5.0 boards and 3.5 assists, and Niang is one of them. But he’s also a question mark on defense, which is part of the reason that Iowa State has a ceiling when it comes to their chances of winning the Big 12.

8. Justin Anderson, Virginia: Sound the alarms: after going three for his last 11 from three, Anderson’s three-point percentage has dropped to just 51.9 percent on the season. All kidding aside, he’s a major reason that no one has broken 56 points against Virginia since that double-overtime game against Miami.

9. Stanley Johnson, Arizona: Johnson’s last four games: 20.0 points, 8.3 boards and dominant second halves in wins over Utah at home and at Stanford, the two other teams that look like they might have a shot of making some noise in the Pac-12 race. He’s turning into the go-to guy offensively Arizona needs. T.J. McConnell may be more valuable to this team, but Johnson is Sean Miller’s best player right now.

10. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: I still think Cauley-Stein is the engine that makes this Kentucky defense run, but it would be nice to see him have another dominating performance or two. He has 17 points, 19 boards, four blocks and five steals in his last three games.

OTHERS THAT WERE CONSIDERED: Ron Baker (Wichita State), Ryan Boatright (UConn), Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse), Kyle Collinsworth (BYU), Tyler Haws (BYU), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), D’angelo Harrison (St. John’s), LaDontae Henton (Providence), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Jonathan Holmes (Texas), Jarell Martin (LSU), Jordan Mickey (LSU), Larry Nance Jr. (Wyoming), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Bobby Portis (Arkansas), Juwan Staten (West Virginia), Brad Waldow (St. Mary’s), Ty Wallace (Cal), Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington), Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga), Joseph Young (Oregon)

Tennessee center Tamari Key out for season with blood clots

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.