No. 3 UConn beats Butler, Auriemma passes Summitt in wins

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

STORRS, Conn. — UConn coach Geno Auriemma says he would rather still be coaching against the late Pat Summitt than moving past her on the all-time wins list.

The Huskies routed Butler 103-35 on Tuesday, giving Auriemma his 1,099th win. The victory leaves him just behind Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer (1,105) and gives him one more than his former rival, Summitt, who died in 2016 at the age of 64. It comes just two days before the Huskies visit Knoxville to take on the Lady Vols.

“I wish she were still coaching and I wish I had to work a lot harder to catch her,” Auriemma said. “It’s ironic that it plays out the way it played out, because to be honest with you, I didn’t think I’d be coaching long enough to be in this position.”

Olivia Nelson-Ododa led a balanced attack with 18 points for the Huskies, who were playing for the first time in 10 days. Christyn Williams and Aubrey Griffin, who made her first start, each scored 17 points for unbeaten UConn (8-0, 7-0 Big East).

Tennessee transfer Evina Wesbrook chipped in with 14 points and freshman Paige Bueckers had 13 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals.

Okako Adika scored 18 points for Butler (1-9, 1-8), despite spending most of the game in foul trouble, and Genesis Parker added 15 points.

The Huskies led 25-15 after a quarter, and used a stifling defense to hold Butler to just 20 points the rest of the game.

Williams stole an inbounds pass and hit a layup just before the halftime buzzer to give the Huskies a 45-20 lead. Adika had 14 of Butler’s 20 first-half points. But she also picked up three fouls.

The Huskies then outscored Butler 58-15 in the second half.

“I think it’s just a mindset that we came out with, especially out of halftime,” Nelson-Ododa said. “Going into the third quarter, we just really focused on not letting them get easy buckets.”

BIG PICTURE

Butler: The Bulldogs came into the game averaging just 54.2 points. Butler had just 13 baskets on 45 shots (25%)

“They make you feel their presence defensively,” coach Kurt Godlevske said. “I thought in the first quarter we did a good job, we got the ball moving, we just missed open shots. You know they’ve been a national prominent team for so long for those reasons.”

UConn: The Huskies limit opponents to an average of 49.7 points and have given up 60 points just once this season, in a 92-65 win over Seton Hall in December.

SHE SAID IT

Tennessee coach Kellie Harper said Tuesday that having Auriemma or anyone else pass Summitt’s win total does not take anything away from her coach and what she was able to do.

“Because it wasn’t about the numbers. It was about her legacy, and it was about who she was as a person and how she uplifted all of us to be better and to give us an opportunity that we have,” Harper said. “That’s what she was all about. She won a lot of games in the process, but her her legacy is so much more than numbers.”

BOUNCE BACK

Williams was coming off her worst game ever as a Husky, going scoreless and playing just 14 minutes in an 87-50 win over Providence.

“I’m not going to ever let that happen again,” she said.

COMING SOON

Guard Saylor Poffenbarger, who joined the Huskies over the weekend after graduating high school early, was not at Gampel Pavilion. She is completing a medical quarantine. Auriemma says he’s not sure if she will play this season, but is pleased she will at least be able to practice with the Huskies without losing a year of eligibility.

UP NEXT

Butler: Butler is scheduled to host No. 19 DePaul on Thursday. That would be the first time the Bulldogs face nationally-ranked teams in back-to-back games since the 2017-18 season.

UConn: The Huskies heads to Knoxville for the first time in 15 years to face No. 25 Tennessee on Thursday.

Tennessee center Tamari Key out for season with blood clots

Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK
2 Comments

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
Saul Young/USA TODAY NETWORK
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).”

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

michigan state basketball
Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports
3 Comments

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
2 Comments

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

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

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.