No. 1 Kansas claims outright Big 12 title with win over Texas Tech

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LUBBOCK, Texas — No. 1 Kansas had the outright Big 12 title wrapped up before going back on the court after halftime. The Jayhawks then finished off something that hadn’t been done in the conference in a decade.

Devon Dotson scored 17 points while Udoka Azubuike had 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Jayhawks beat Texas Tech 66-62 on Saturday. They became the Big 12’s first champion with only one loss in league play since they were 15-1 in 2009-10, two seasons before the conference expanded to an 18-game round-robin schedule.

“Everyone in the locker room, that was our goal, to win it outright and don’t share anything,” Dotson said. “For us to go 17-1 is big. Hopefully we can build off of it. We’re not satisfied. We have bigger goals and aspirations, but we can build off of this for sure.”

Kansas (28-3, 17-1 Big 12) had already clinched at least a share of its 19th Big 12 title, the 15th in 16 seasons, with a win Wednesday night over TCU. The Jayhawks were outright champions by halftime Saturday, when second-place and No. 4 Baylor (26-4, 15-3) lost 76-64 at West Virginia.

“I just want to say it’s a good conference,” Azubuike said. “In the Big 12 there are all these teams that are competing all the time. A lot of people really don’t know how hard it is with defense and everything. It’s tough.”

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Texas Tech (18-13, 9-9), last year’s national runner-up after sharing the Big 12 title with Kansas State, had a chance to tie the game with 2.8 seconds left. But Davide Moretti, who made a 3-pointer only seconds earlier, missed another one from long range. The Red Raiders guard fell to floor after contact with Marcus Garrett, but was no foul called.

“That’s the best Kansas team I’ve seen,” Tech coach Chris Beard said. “Dotson, the best guard in college basketball. Dok’s the best big in college basketball and Garrett is the best defender in college basketball, and their role players just don’t make mistakes.”

Ochai Agbaji added 12 points for the Jayhawks. Garrett had nine points and eight rebounds, including a driving layup in the final half-minute of the game.

Moretti had 18 points, while TJ Holyfield had 11 points for Texas Tech, which lost its fourth game in a row when trying to get back into the NCAA Tournament.

“I thought the guys played really hard,” Beard said. “We didn’t have any lapses of effort. … We have seven turnovers, 40-minute game against Kansas. That’s good. I thought the guys competed. They were dialed in. We didn’t get too high or too low. We were right there. We gave ourselves a chance.”

Azubuike put Kansas ahead to stay with his put-back dunk with 1:41 left that made it 59-57.

Holyfield’s 3-pointer tied the game with 2:11 left and came during a stretch of just more than two minutes when he and Azubuike were trading points. Both had a free throw, then both had layups before Holyfield’s 3 and Azubuike’s go-ahead putback.

HE SAID IT

“It’s just been a long grind and it’s been pretty well-documented kinda the not the ups and downs of our season because our season has been primarily all ups, but guys dealing with a lot of stuff. Coaches dealing with some stuff,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Keep focused. Stay disciplined. Stay responsible and to learn to grind. … Guys deserve all the credit.”

STREAKY SLUMPS

Kansas had a 32-24 lead after a 12-2 run over the final seven minutes of the first half, despite missing nine shots in a row. Tech missed nine of its last 10 shots. The Jayhawks then missed seven shots in a row early in the second half, allowing Texas Tech to tie the game at 37-all on Holyfield’s 3 with 14 minutes left.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The Jayhawks had never won 17 conference games in the same season. They had won 16 games three times (2002, 2012, 2017). Kansas finished 9-0 in Big 12 road games. They are a certain No. 1 seed, likely the top overall seed, in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens in the Big 12 Tournament.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders, who won a school-record 31 games last season, lost to unranked teams Oklahoma and Texas last week before falling in overtime at No. 4 Baylor and then at home to Kansas. Jahmi’us Ramsey has been their leading scorer as a freshman, though he had only six points in the regular-season finale. Tech has struggled to have an inside presence this season.

UP NEXT

The Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. The Jayhawks and Red Raiders both got first-round byes and will play Thursday against opponents to be determined.

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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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.