Overlooked Pac-12 teams making noise in NCAA Tournament

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After living on the fringes of the AP Top 25 during the regular season, Pac-12 teams are making a statement in the NCAA Tournament.

All five Pac-12 schools in the bracket advanced to the round of 32, including UCLA winning two games already. The 11th-seeded Bruins knocked off Michigan State in the First Four and then upset sixth-seeded BYU in the first round. It’s only the third time in conference history the Pac-12 has advanced five teams to the round of 32.

UCLA coach Mick Cronin said it’s about time the conference gets its due.

“You’re finding out that the Pac-12 not being ranked all year was an absolute joke,” Cronin said. “And some people ought to be ashamed of themselves. Now, maybe people (in the East) can’t stay up late, and I don’t blame them because I can’t either. So maybe people can’t stay up for our games.”

Oregon State, the Pac-12 Tournament champion, came in as a 12 seed and earned its first NCAA Tournament win in nearly four decades with a rout of fifth-seeded Tennessee. Fifth-seeded Colorado had no trouble with No. 12 Georgetown, and sixth-seeded USC took care of No. 11 Drake.

Seventh-seeded Oregon advanced after positive COVID-19 tests forced VCU out of the tournament.

The stacked Big 12 went 5-1 and would have run the table in the first round if third-seeded Texas hadn’t been upended by No. 14 Abilene Christian on Saturday night. The Big Ten went 6-2 but took some lumps. Second-seeded Ohio State was sent home by 15 Oral Roberts in the biggest upset of the opening round, and fourth-seeded Purdue fell to 13th-seeded North Texas.

The Big Ten misery continued when Illinois, the top seed in the Midwest, was beaten by eighth-seeded Loyola Chicago in the second round Sunday.


Ohio coach Jeff Boals says there’s plenty of room on the Bobcats bandwagon for everyone, including Buckeyes fans.

“We’ll take every Buckeye fan that wants to keep cheering,” Boals said a day after the West Region’s 13th-seeded Bobcats’ first-round upset of fourth-seeded Virginia left them the last Ohio-based school in the tournament.

“I think somewhere scarlet can turn into green,” he added, referring to Ohio State’s and Ohio’s colors.

Boals means that as no slight to Ohio State. The second-seeded Buckeyes lost 75-72 to 15th seed Oral Roberts on Friday.

Boals maintains a soft spot for the in-state rival after spending seven seasons as an assistant on Thad Matta’s staff at Ohio State from 2009-16.

Matta attended the Bobcats’ win.

“It meant the world to me. I saw him before the game introduction and gave him a little fist bump,” Boals said. “I would not be here without him.”


Southern California coach Andy Enfield avoided mentioning UCLA when asked how a 72-56 win over Drake in the first round had the potential of increasing the Trojans’ presence back home.

Enfield said his team deserves the attention.

“We have 45 wins the last two years, which is third in the country behind Baylor and Kansas,” said Enfield, who was the Pac-12 coach of the year this season, the first USC coach to be so honored since George Raveling in 1992.

“So after a two-year break, this meant a lot to our program,” he added, noting the Trojans would likely have secured a berth last year with a 22-9 record had the tournament not been canceled because of the pandemic.

USC will face third-seeded Kansas on Monday.


First, a meeting with NCAA President Mark Emmert. Down the road, maybe an audience with President Joe Biden.

Those are among the hopes of Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon. He’s among the players leading the way in a social media effort to raise awareness about inequities in college sports.

Bohannon, Isaiah Livers of Michigan and Geo Baker of Rutgers helped start a movement that calls for rules changes. The hashtag (hash)NotNCAAProperty was trending on social media.

Bohannon promised other ideas moving forward. He said the players involved in the campaign are hoping to meet with Emmert within the next few weeks.

“It’s really important what we did, to continue to create awareness,” Bohannon said. “You saw from the women’s standpoint, a couple days ago, the women speaking out about the weight room being different. If you look at that, that was just absolutely ridiculous. Look at Mark Emmert, he was nowhere to be found to answer any questions. … At the end of the day, a leader’s got to step up and lead and he wasn’t there again to state his reasoning behind it all.”

Emmert is open to the conversation.

An NCAA spokesperson said in a statement Sunday that the NCAA chief “would be happy to connect either virtually or in person when appropriate with any student-athletes who want to engage.”


The underdogs from Oregon State got into the spirit of playing at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Hours before their game against Oklahoma State on Sunday, the Beavers posted a video on Twitter of 7-foot-1 center Roman Silva carrying 6-3 guard Gianni Hunt over to the basket to measure the rim’s height. Coach Wayne Tinkle also helped with the measuring.

It was an homage to a scene in the movie “Hoosiers” that was shot at Hinkle.

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).”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.