Gathers gets career-high 31, No. 16 Baylor tops NW St 75-62

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WACO, Texas (AP) Rico Gathers was concerned about rebounding going into No. 16 Baylor’s first game against Northwestern State in two years.

The burly senior forward took care of that – and the scoring, too.

Gathers had a career-high 31 points to go with 21 rebounds – the second 30-point, 20-rebound game in school history – and the Bears pulled away in the second half for a 75-62 victory against Northwestern State on Tuesday night.

“My sophomore year, they came here and dominated us on the boards,” Gathers said, referring to Baylor’s 91-84 overtime victory against the Southland Conference opponent in 2013. “And coach really made that an emphasis. So, of course, if you tell it to a rebounder like myself, I make sure I get the job done.”

Gathers was 12 of 20 from the field in his fourth consecutive double-double and had a season high in rebounds, although it was well short of his career high of 28 against Huston-Tillotson last January. Last season’s Big 12 rebounding leader had more by himself than the Demons, who were beaten on the glass 47-18.

The only other Baylor player with that many points and rebounds in the same game was Darrell Hardy, who had 40 points and 25 boards against Texas in 1966. Gathers’ previous scoring high was 25, also against Huston-Tillotson.

“He plays within himself extremely well,” Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy said. “So many times, players try to get outside who they are, and he is just very good at what he does.”

Taurean Prince, who scored 30 in a win over No. 21 Vanderbilt on Sunday, had 11 points and 13 rebounds in the 31st straight non-conference home win for the Bears (7-1).

Zeek Woodley scored 21 points for Northwestern State (1-7).

Baylor led 39-38 at halftime and 53-48 midway through the second half before an 11-2 run that included four points from Gathers and was capped by a three-point play from Prince.

Al Freeman had 15 points and the only 3-pointer for Baylor. He was 1 of 5 from long range, and the team was 1 of 13.

“They’re a tough team,” Freeman said “They make it a grind-out game. They’ve got guys like Zeek who can score. We knew what we were getting into, and they just played us tough.”

The Bears, who had been scoring just over 83 points a game, were held below their average thanks in part to Northwestern State’s slowdown game. The Demons ran the shot clock down to single digits on most possessions, a strategy McConathy adopted after left knee injuries to Jalan West, last season’s Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and Tra’von Joseph. West is out of the season.

“I’m sure none of the fans were really happy with the way we played, but I have to keep my job,” McConathy said. “We’ve been on the other end of that where we’ve tried to go up and down the floor, and right now, we’re not in a position where we can do that.”

Gathers scored eight straight points to wipe out an 18-12 lead for Northwestern State in the first half. Neither team led by more than two for the last 10 minutes before halftime. Gathers had his double-double at halftime, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds before the break.

TIP-INS

Northwestern State: Joseph injured his knee Nov. 25 and is expected to miss at least a month. … Devonte Hall had 12 points and led the Demons with eight assists and five rebounds. … Sabri Thompson had 11 points and seven assists.

Baylor: The Bears entered the game fourth nationally at 21.6 assists per game and finished with 19. Lester Medford had seven assists, and Ishmail Wainright added six.

UP NEXT

Northwestern State hosts Missouri Valley on Dec. 19.

Baylor plays Hardin-Simmons on Dec. 16 at Fort Hood, about 60 miles south of Waco.

A previous version of this story had an incorrect point total for Rico Gathers in a headline. He scored 31 points, not 29.

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).”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

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.

BIG PICTURE

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.

UP NEXT

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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Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports
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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.

BIG PICTURE

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.

UP NEXT

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.