No. 5 Kansas opening season without Hall of Fame coach Bill Self

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — There will be something missing from what should have been a festive occasion at Kansas, when the No. 5 Jayhawks celebrate their latest national championship before opening the new season against Omaha.

Namely, their head coach Bill Self.

Rather than following his team to the court for pregame introductions, Self will probably be sitting at home, forced to watch on TV while beginning a four-game suspension. Kansas officials imposed the punishment on its coach and assistant Kurtis Townsend as part of the fallout of a lengthy FBI investigation into college basketball corruption.

Norm Roberts, who spent six seasons as the head coach at St. John’s, will serve as the acting coach.

“Norm and I have been together off-and-on since `95,” Self said, “and he’ll probably be a voice that the players probably enjoy and respect hearing far more than they have been hearing.”

“I think it’s something (where) hopefully we can become more mature,” he added, “and if that’s the case, it’s still not good by any stretch. But I have to own it, though, and our players have to make the most of it, and I believe they will.”

Self was allowed to coach the Jayhawks in their lone exhibition, when they overcame a sluggish start against Division II Pittsburg State in a 94-63 win. And the terms of the school-administered suspension allow him to coach the Jayhawks any day but game day, which means the Hall of Fame coach will still largely determine the game plan.

He just won’t be on the sidelines against Omaha, North Dakota State and Southern Utah or a showdown against seventh-ranked Duke in the Champions Classic next week in Indianapolis.

Self and Townsend will be back on the bench to face North Carolina State at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 23.

“Norm will go into the game knowing who the first big off the bench is, who the first guard off the bench is. He knows what plays we’ll script,” Self said, “but he’ll be in charge. He will be in charge. I’ll be at practice, but everything that happens after 12 a.m., that’s going to be Norm’s call. And as a coach, you really hope nothing happens after 12 a.m.”

Jeremy Case, who helped the Jayhawks win the 2008 national title, will be alongside Roberts on the bench. The Jayhawks also can use Joe Dooley, a longtime assistant and now director of student-athlete development, and Brady Morningstar, a former player who usually serves as the video coordinator, as fill-in coaches on game day.

Still, it’s hard to substitute for a two-time national champion coach who’s won more than 81% of his games at Kansas.

“Norm will do a great job. The guy has been a head coach in the Big East,” Self said. “We’ve been together a long time, and there’s a correlation in us being successful and who your coaches are, and we’ve had the best staff. I don’t know anybody can compare the staff we’ve had over time, and Norm has been a huge part of that.”

The suspensions, along with a series of recruiting penalties, were punishment for an infractions case that stems from a federal investigation in 2017 that led to the conviction of a shoe company executive, a middleman who worked with them and several assistant coaches. It involved Kansas along with Arizona, LSU, Louisville and North Carolina State.

When it came to the Jayhawks, the issue was whether representatives of apparel company Adidas were acting as boosters – the school contends they were not – when they arranged payments to prospective recruits. Kansas never disputed that the payments were made, only that it had any knowledge the inducements were happening.

The school asked that the case be decided by the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, which was created to handle particularly complex cases and acts outside the purview of the NCAA. But the soon-to-be disbanded panel has been painfully slow in its work, and it remains unclear when – or even if – there will ever be a conclusion.

“I don’t understand all the nuances that go on,” Self said, “and to be real candid with you, if I don’t understand it, it’s hard for anyone else to understand it, because I’m right in the middle of it.”

Rather than wait out the process, Kansas imposed penalties last week in a gesture it hopes will mitigate any additional punishment. Self will sit out the next four games – an important developmental period for his young team – and put his trust in Roberts, who hasn’t been a head coach since he was fired by St. John’s in 2010.

“We have a culture that’s been built here,” Roberts said. “I’ve been with Bill a long time. We kind of end each others’ sentences. And we talk about how faces change but expectations don’t. Our players know our expectations are what they are at Kansas, and what we do on the court doesn’t change.”

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.