McCormack helps unranked KU beat No. 23 Oklahoma St. 78-66

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

LAWRENCE, Kan. — It took the end of a record 231 consecutive weeks in the Top 25 for Kansas to play like a ranked team again.

After falling out of the poll for the first time since February 2009 earlier in the day, the Jayhawks leaned on big man David McCormack and a defense that forced No. 23 Oklahoma State into 19 turnovers to roll to a 78-66 victory Monday night.

“Everybody has pride,” the Jayhawks’ Marcus Garrett said, “and seeing that? It just gave us some extra fire.”

McCormack had all but two of his 23 points after halftime to go with 10 rebounds, and Garrett scored 17 points while drawing eight fouls on drives to the basket. Christian Braun added 15 points, Jalen Wilson had 11 and Ochai Agbaji 10 for the Jayhawks (13-7, 7-5 Big 12), who climbed to No. 3 early in the season but had lost five of their last seven.

“We said it was a non-negotiable game,” McCormack said. “We were back home. We have to make sure we get these wins.”

The Jayhawks forced Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham into committing seven turnovers while committing four fouls, and the Cowboys (12-6, 5-6) finished with 18 turnovers as a team in a haphazard effort on both ends of the floor.

“Looking at the numbers the last couple games, I probably lead the country in turnovers,” Cunningham said. “I had the ball in my hands a bunch throughout the game. I’m asked to make a plot of plays – that’s what I asked for. I want the ball in my hands. I have to limit those turnovers and help us get shots.”

Cunningham finished with 26 points but was just 7 of 18 from the field, and fellow freshman Avery Anderson III had 13 points but also committed four turnovers, as the Cowboys allowed a 28-25 game at the break to get away from them.

“I don’t look to blame anybody but ourselves,” Oklahoma State guard Isaac Likekele said.

Early on, the Jayhawks looked like a team deserving of their ranking – or lack thereof – when they missed 13 of their first 15 field-goal attempts and had as many turnovers (five) as points through the first eight minutes of the game.

Somehow they manage to scratch out that meager halftime lead.

That’s because the Cowboys were even worse on offense. Cunningham had four of their 12 first-half turnovers, they went 1 of 8 from beyond the arc and failed to score a single second-chance point despite hanging tough on the boards.

McCormack, who poured in 24 points when the teams met last month in Stillwater, was 1-for-7 shooting in the first half. But the 6-foot-11 forward began to assert himself against center-less Oklahoma State in the second half, scoring an array of lay-ins and baby hooks to push the Jayhawks to their biggest lead at 41-32 with 15 minutes to go.

The Cowboys got within four before Kansas solved their zone defense.

McCormack was the linchpin of that effort, too. The Jayhawks kept getting him the ball in the middle, forcing the Cowboys to collapse and leaving the big man open. It was 58-52 when McCormack fed Wilson for an easy bucket, then he added a put-back of his own a couple minutes later to make it 65-55 with 4 minutes left.

The Jayhawks managed to hold Oklahoma State off the rest of the way.

“The second half we probably didn’t guard as well but the lid came off and we shot a lot better,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “We got to figure out how to play better early. I told our guys, we were up three and we should have been up 12 at halftime. You talk about unforced errors. … But there were some good things for a team that was really pressing.”

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma State was 7 of 26 from beyond the arc, often settling for outside shots rather than going to the rim – where the Cowboys routinely drew fouls. In fact, Cunningham had eight of his points at the free-throw line.

Kansas won the game with its defense. On the other end, the Jayhawks committed 19 turnovers of their own, and the only efficient production they got came from McCormack in the post. They were 5 of 15 from beyond the 3-point line, and that included a shot clock-beating heave by Braun in the final minute.

UP NEXT

The Cowboys play Kansas State on Saturday.

The Jayhawks welcome Iowa State on Thursday night.

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.