Michigan State boosts NCAA hopes with 64-58 win over Indiana

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Aaron Henry had 18 of his 22 points in the second half, leading Michigan State to a 64-58 win over Indiana on Tuesday night in a matchup of teams on the bubble to play in the NCAA Tournament.

“The pressure is on,” Henry said.

The Spartans (14-10, 8-10 Big Ten) broke a ninth-place tie in the highly touted conference with the Hoosiers (12-13, 7-11) in a possibly pivotal game for their postseason hopes.

Michigan State’s Joshua Langford scored 13 points and Gabe Brown added 10 points for a team that has won four of its last five games.

Rob Phinisee scored 16 points and was Indiana’s only player in double figures.

Trayce Jackson-Davis was held to a season-low nine points and matched a career low by making only one shot on five attempts. The sophomore forward averages 20 points a game and scored a career-high 34 points in the last game against Michigan State.

“That was personal,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “That was embarrassing. I recruited Trace, but you can’t give God 34 points.”

Indiana has lost four in a row and five of its last six games. The late-season slide has hurt the Hoosiers chances of going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016 when former coach Tom Crean helped them earn a bid for a fourth time in five seasons.

“We played hard,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “We didn’t play well enough to win.”

Michigan State greatly improved its chances of playing beyond the Big Ten Tournament by beating then-No. 5 Illinois and then-No. 4 Ohio State last week at home. Those desperately needed quality wins followed a victory against the Hoosiers on the road.

Henry matched a career high with 27 points in the previous meeting, leading Michigan State to a 78-71 comeback win at Indiana less than two weeks ago. That victory was a third Quadrant 1 win this season for a team hoping to play in a 23rd straight NCAA Tournament.

Henry did not pick up where he left off against the Hoosiers, starting 0 of 5 and scoring just four points in the first half.

“He wasn’t very good in the first half,” Izzo said. “He took the blame at halftime.”

In the end, though, the junior forward made plays at both ends of the court to help Michigan State outlast Indiana.

“Aaron Henry made some crucial plays late,” said Miller, who recruited Henry when he was a high school star in Indianapolis. “To his credit, he made some big baskets late and we didn’t, especially in the last 2 1/2 minutes.”

BIG PICTURE

Indiana: Miller has been unable to stop a slump that has given the team a losing record in his fourth season in charge of the once-proud program.

“We’re playing very good teams,” said Miller, insisting his reeling team isn’t pressing.

Michigan State: It was not pretty, but the Spartans did enough to win a game that boosts their chances of extending their NCAA Tournament streak in a shaky season that included many players and coaches testing positive for COVID-19.

“I think we’re an NCAA Tournament team,” said Izzo, adding the team’s schedule and overcoming a coronavirus outbreak should be factors in its favor.

UGLY BEYOND THE ARC

Michigan State was 4 of 17 on 3-pointers and Indiana missed 18 of 20 shots beyond the arc.

“You’re re going to have a hard time winning on the road if you’re 2 of 20,” Miller acknowledged.

INJURY REPORT

Indiana: Sophomore guard Armaan Franklin missed a second straight game after injuring his right foot in the first half against Rutgers.

Michigan State: Junior guard Foster Loyer had surgery on his left shoulder this week, likely ending his season.

“This kid will play dead,” Izzo said. “He tried to shoot. He just couldn’t get that left arm up. We knew he was going to need surgery. He wanted to suck it up, but I wanted him to have a fair chance to play next year.”

UP NEXT

Indiana ends the regular season on the road against rival and 23rd-ranked Purdue on Saturday afternoon.

Michigan State closes the regular season Thursday night on the road against rival and second- ranked Michigan, which lost to No. 4 Illinois 76-53, and hosts the Wolverines on Sunday.

“What a cool opportunity this is,” Izzo said.

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.