LUBBOCK (AP) — Texas Tech freshman Dusty Hannahs learned long ago that when he's wasn't practicing somebody else probably was.
That notion has driven the 19-year-old since his youth growing up in Arkansas. In the family's Little Rock backyard, his father would chase rebounds so Hannah could repeatedly put up more shots.
In seventh grade, he finagled a key to the school gym and spent hours practicing his shot. High school? Different key, same routine.
"Once that happened it was over," said Hannahs, who has started the past nine games and is averaging 6.5 points a game. "I wanted to live there."
Now, long after Red Raiders fans leave the arena or practice is over, Hannahs lingers. Sometimes under dimmed lights with only the janitorial staff as company.
That time has paid off. After 18 or fewer minutes in Texas Tech's first eight games Hannahs earned a starting role. He has become the go-to guy from beyond the arc, hitting 26 of 66 to lead the team. He's also perfect from the free throw line (9-9) and notched a season-high 21 points in his second start, a win over North Carolina A&T. He hit seven of his 12 shots, going 4 of 8 on 3s.
"And he'll get better as time goes on when he learns how to hunt his shot," interim coach Chris Walker said.
The 6-4, 210-pounder's presence has helped the Red Raiders, who despite struggling have already won more conference games than all of last season under coach Billy Gillispie. He resigned in September for medical reasons after getting just one Big 12 victory and matching a school record for the most losses in a single season (23) in his lone year in Lubbock.
The Red Raiders (9-8, 2-4 Big 12) halted a four-game skid Wednesday night when they beat Iowa State 56-51. On Saturday, they travel to Texas and have a shot at beating the struggling Longhorns, who are winless in Big 12 play.
Walker said Hannahs' work ethic in shooting is "light years" ahead of his teammates. But there are areas where he needs improvement, like rebounding and defense.
"If you're not making 3s, what other value do you bring to the team?" Walker said. "He's not going to be a defensive stopper. That's not his role on the team. I just have to continuously challenge him to be a more well-rounded player."
Hannahs understands his shortcomings and is working to become better on defense. His confidence is growing each week.
"I just always was getting by, but I needed to learn principles," Hannahs said. "I've come such a long way with the help of the coaches. They're just so good at helping me, letting me know what I'm doing wrong and right."
Redshirt junior Jaye Crockett, the team's leading scorer (13.1 points per game) and its sixth man, has been impressed by Hannahs and the energy he always brings. When the freshman is on the floor and opponents must respect his shooting prowess, it opens up lanes inside for teammates, Crockett said.
Then there's the extra time Crockett sees Hannahs put in.
"Dusty's in the gym all the time," he said. "He's one of the reasons why I started getting in the gym a lot just trying to work on my game because I've seen a freshman come and his work ethic and all, I was like, 'Maybe I need to change something.'"
Hannahs believes the Red Raiders are finding their stride.
"We're just going to keep working," he said. "We all know what we have and once we come together, which is what we feel we are, we're the only people who can stop us."
Hale nets 35, UTSA holds off Seattle
SEATTLE (AP) — Michael Hale III scored a career-high 35 points including a 16 for 17 effort from the free-throw line and UTSA beat Seattle 78-75 on Thursday night.
Hale hit a pair of free throws to put UTSA (5-13, 1-7 WAC) up 76-69 with 34 seconds remaining in the game to seal the deal. Seattle's Jarell Flora made things interesting with back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Roadrunners.
Although UTSA never trailed in the contest, D'Vonne Pickett Jr. hit a lay-up for Seattle to tie it up at 65 but Kannon Burrage answered by hitting a pair of free throws with 5:26 to play and the Roadrunners never looked back.
Burrage ended his night with 19 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Deshau Sunderhaus scored 16 points and five rebounds to lead Seattle (6-12, 1-7).
Texas-Arlington downs Utah State
LOGAN, Utah (AP) — Karol Gruszecki scored 14 points, Cameron Catlett had 13 points and six assists and Texas-Arlington dropped Utah State 74-68 on Thursday night.
Texas-Arlington (9-8, 4-4 WAC) outscored the Aggies 24-14 inside the paint, shot an even 40 percent from the floor and was 25 of 34 from the free-throw line.
The Aggies hit 10 3-pointers in the contest but committed 17 turnovers. Spencer Butterfield had 23 points, including four 3-pointers, grabbed 11 rebounds and had three assists to lead Utah State (14-4, 5-3). Ben Clifford had 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
Greg Gainey had 10 points and eight rebounds for Texas-Arlington. Shaq White-Miller scored 11 points and was 8 for 9 from the free-throw line, and added four assists and three steals.
Texas-Arlington had lost five of its last seven games until the victory over the Aggies.
Hunter, Nicholls State beat Texas A&M Corpus Christi
THIBODAUX, La. (AP) — Fred Hunter scored 12 of his 19 points in the first half as Nicholls State pulled away from Texas A&M Corpus Christi for a 69-62 Southland Conference win Thursday night.
Hunter scored eight straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers, to give the Colonels (5-12, 4-3) an 11-8 lead at the 14:41 mark.
Nicholls State held the Islanders to only two points for a 9 ½-minute stretch en route to a 31-22 halftime advantage.
After the Colonels expanded their cushion to 17 points, Texas A&M Corpus Christi pulled within six, at 55-49, on Jelani Currie's layup with 5:50 left, but could get no closer.
Nicholls State outscored Texas A&M Corpus Christi 40-18 in the paint, but was outrebounded 36-29.
Dantrell Thomas added 15 points and Jeremy Smith 11 for the Colonels.
Johnathan Jordan scored 18 points and Will Nelson had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Islanders (2-15, 1-6).
Middle Tennessee defeats North Texas
DENTON (AP) — Marcos Knight had 15 points and five assists and Middle Tennessee won its sixth straight game, defeating North Texas 72-64 Thursday night.
James Gallman added 13 points, JT Sulton had 11 and Neiko Hunter 10 for the Blue Raiders (17-4, 9-1 Sun Belt), who have won 10 of their last 11 games overall and are undefeated in 12 home games this season.
Jordan Williams led North Texas (8-13, 3-7) with 20 points. Roger Franklin added 14, Niko Stojiljkovic 12 and Tony Mitchell 10.
Middle Tennessee led 28-23 at halftime and stretched that advantage to as many as 15 points when Gallman hit a 3-pointer with 11:07 remaining.
The Blue Raiders shot 62 percent from the field in the second half, and 54 percent for the game.
Texas State defeats Idaho
MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Joel Wright scored 37 points Thursday night to lead Texas State to a 78-73 win over Idaho.
Wright, whose previous season high was 28 against SMU on Nov. 17, was 12 of 20 from the field and 12 of 15 from the free-throw line for the Bobcats (6-14, 2-6 WAC), who have won two in a row after losing nine straight.
The 6-foot-7 forward, in his first season at Texas State after transferring from Duquesne and Blinn Junior College, also had six rebounds, five assists and five steals.
Phil Hawkins scored 16 points and Reid Koenen scored 10 for the Bobcats, who overcame a 17-point deficit in the first half.
Idaho lost despite the efforts of Kyle Barone, who had 27 points and 16 rebounds. Stephen Madison scored 14 points and Mike McChristian scored 13 for the Vandals (7-11, 3-5).
Texas State trimmed the 17-point lead to 34-30 at halftime.
Niles scores 33, Oral Roberts defeats Lamar
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Warren Niles scored 33 points and Oral Roberts committed just four turnovers in a 91-74 victory over Lamar on Thursday night.
Shawn Glover added 24 points and nine rebounds for the Golden Eagles (11-8, 6-1 Southland), who won their third straight. Damen Bell-Holter scored 15 points and Korey Billbury had 10 assists.
Lamar (2-17, 0-7 Southland) got a career-high 25 points from Keilan Blanks, 18 from Stan Brown and 17 from Donnell Minton. The Cardinals shot 49 percent from the field compared to 47 percent for Oral Roberts, but committed 13 turnovers en route to their seventh straight loss.
The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 12-2 lead that turned into a 37-29 halftime advantage.
Lamar got within 53-48 after a Donnell Minton 3-pointer with 14:35 remaining, but Oral Roberts answered with an 18-2 run to build a 21-point lead with less than 11 minutes to play.
Southeastern Louisiana defeats Sam Houston State
HAMMOND, La. (AP) — Brandon Fortenberry scored 22 points and Southeastern Louisiana held off Sam Houston State to snap a two-game losing skid with a 69-65 victory Thursday night.
The Lions (6-11, 4-3 Southland Conference) were behind 30-27 at halftime and trailed until Dre Evans' 3-pointer put them ahead 38-37 with 15:50 to play.
Terrance Motley's jumper quickly put the Bearkats (11-8, 4-3) back ahead, but after Darius Gatson's basket made it 40-38 Sam Houston State, Roosevelt Johnson's layup sparked a 5-0 Southeastern Louisiana run to put the Lions ahead for good.
Southeastern Louisiana never led by more than seven, and the Bearkats twice cut the lead to two points in the final 30 seconds, the last on Gatson's free throw with 4 seconds remaining. Johnson responded with two free throws, though, and Sam Houston State's Paul Baxter missed a desperation 3 to end it.
DeMarcus Gatlin led the Bearkats with 15 points.
No. 16 Texas A&M women rout Mississippi State
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — On Thursday morning, Gary Blair, head coach of No. 16 Texas A&M, had an enjoyable breakfast in downtown Starkville with an old friend. But Thursday night, Blair showed little mercy on that old friend, beating Vic Schaefer's Mississippi State squad 81-33 behind an 18-point night from Kristi Bellock.
Schaefer, an A&M alum, was an assistant coach in College Station for nine seasons and recruited most of this year's squad before leaving for Mississippi State last spring.
"Vic is special," Blair said. "We've done so much together. When we get on the golf course and compete, it's like we're Tiger and Phil. Only I get to be Tiger."
Blair's team shot like professionals Thursday night. Texas A&M (15-5, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) hit 60 percent (29 of 48), well above its season 46.6-percent average. The Aggies were 4 of 10 from behind the arc and 19 of 25 from the free-throw line. They also forced 23 turnovers, including 17 steals.
"They should be in the top 5 or 6 teams in (the) country," Schaefer said. "They're so underrated in my opinion. They've got a confident point guard who's waited her time, and the second best player — maybe the best post player in the country — in (Kelsey) Bone. They may run the table, they're that good."
Bellock scored her 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting.
"I just stick to what I'm good at," Bellock said. "I stick to my strengths and stay away from my weaknesses. Tonight my shot was just falling."
Mississippi State (8-11, 0-6) couldn't muster much offense for Schaefer in his first game against his old squad.
"Our point guards had 12 turnovers tonight," Schaefer said. "We had some really good looks and just couldn't get them the ball."
The Bulldogs were 12-of-45 shooting and bested the worst offensive performances in program history by a single point — Mississippi State scored 32 points against Manhattan in 1985 and Auburn in 1986. The 48-point scoring margin is the worst at home for the Bulldogs losing by 50 in that 1986 loss to Auburn.
"I've got work to do here," Schaefer said, "and we're going to get it done. It's a process."
Despite the lopsided score, Blair said he thinks Schaefer is building something special at Mississippi State.
"This team is very similar to my first teams at A&M," Blair said. "It takes time, and you have to convert people. This should have happened five or six years ago, but he'll build it. Give him time."
Texas A&M opened the game on an 11-4 run and led 39-19 at halftime.
"That's just the way this team is," Bone said. "If you stop one thing, we come at you with something else. Tonight coach Schaefer tried some of the defense we used to run against Baylor. We were able to adjust."
Bone scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
After the break, the Aggies immediately extended their lead to 54-19 to open the second half. They never trailed, and Blair was able to rest his starters some in the second half.
Adrienne Pratcher added 15 points for the Aggies on 6-of-10 shooting and was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Martha Alwal led Mississippi State with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Jerica James added 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
This is Texas A&M's second road win of the week after beating No. 12 Georgia 64-46 on Sunday. The Aggies have won seven of their last eight games overall.
"This team has slid under the radar all year," Blair said. "We haven't gone away, we've only gotten better."
Kentucky, No. 5 Louisville hit bumps in the road
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Basketball fans in the Bluegrass State have had the wind knocked out of them with both Louisville and Kentucky being punched in the gut this week.
The fifth-ranked Cardinals (16-3, 4-2) have lost back-to-back games since entering last weekend as the nation's top-ranked team. Louisville travels to Georgetown on Saturday looking to bounce back from its latest setback, a 73-64 Big East Conference loss at struggling Villanova.
Kentucky fans have even more reason to be concerned.
The young, inconsistent Wildcats were halfway to winning their third consecutive Southeastern Conference game at unranked Alabama before letting it slip away. Kentucky (12-6, 3-2) ended up losing 59-55 — which could be another blemish on its resume if the defending champions need an at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament. Kentucky hosts LSU Saturday.
"Anytime you play in the ACC, Big East, Big Ten or any great conference," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Thursday, "you're going to have peaks and you're going to have valleys, unless you have one of those great basketball teams that dominates the conference — which is not the case in college basketball this year.
"That being said, what I try to emphasize is just getting better execution-wise leading into March, just playing our best basketball at that time. Keep working on the execution and good things will happen."
Finishing has been a problem in Louisville's losses to then-No. 6 Syracuse — which upset the Cardinals Saturday 70-68 — and Villanova. Tuesday's defeat against the Wildcats was especially frustrating for Pitino because of his team's poor performance at the free throw line.
The Cardinals trailed the Wildcats by as many as 10 points in the first half before rallying to take the lead 52-46 with 8:25 remaining in the game. Villanova closed with a 27-14 run helped by Louisville's 7 of 18 free throw shooting, including missing five of its final six.
Sophomore forward Chane Behanan had an especially rough game, hitting just 3 of 9 from the line and Junior Gorgui Dieng missed both of his second-half attempts.
"I do have concern about our power forwards and what they're shooting from the foul line," Pitino said of Behanan and freshman Montrezl Harrell, who are averaging 54 percent and 52 percent respectively on free throws.
"Anytime they're shooting in the 50 percentile that bothers me, so we have to work on that."
Kentucky has several issues it needs to work through.
The Wildcats are looking to rebuild the chemistry that keyed last week's wins over Tennessee and Auburn. Kentucky appeared especially poised in its 75-65 win over the Volunteers, and hot-shooting second halves clinched victories against the Vols and the Tigers.
In its 22-point win over Auburn, Kentucky players looked for — and found — teammates on offense. The Wildcats shot 67 percent in the second half against the Tigers. Kentucky seemed to have that same trust against Alabama, forging a nine-point halftime lead.
But in the final 6 1/2 minutes against the Crimson Tide, some of Kentucky's freshmen reverted to old individual habits. Alex Poythress fouled out with only six points and five rebounds in 15 minutes while Archie Goodwin was just 2 of 12 from the field and finished with seven points. Sophomore Ryan Harrow (3 of 12, six points) struggled as well from the field as well.
Seven-foot forward Willie Cauley-Stein missed his second straight game following a procedure on his left knee a week ago, which meant another game of prolonged playing time for 6-10 forward Nerlens Noel. The freshman had 13 rebounds, eight points and seven blocks in 39 minutes while sophomore Kyle Wiltjer (35 minutes) added 14 points, including a couple of timely drives to keep the Wildcats in the game.
Coach John Calipari was encouraged by the play of his big men, but he's back to trying to get his Wildcats to "buy in" to a team concept.
"This is a team that is growing and getting better," Calipari said afterward. "We showed signs of that and now we took a step back."
While much of the conference schedule remains for Louisville and Kentucky, the next five games present challenges for both.
The Wildcats have already tripled last year's loss total and have yet to beat a ranked opponent. After hosting LSU, Kentucky travels to No. 23 Mississippi and Texas A&M — which beat the Wildcats on Jan. 12 — before hosting South Carolina and Auburn.
With the Rebels, No. 8 Florida and No. 22 Missouri being the SEC's only ranked teams, Kentucky needs every conference win it can get to boost its NCAA tournament prospects. That means beating teams it's supposed to and snatching a win from one of those ranked squads.
Former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall believes it's possible for the Wildcats if they remember that redemption is just a game away.
"They're a young squad and there are going to be good times and bad times," Hall said. "Tuesday night was one of those times where it was half good and half bad. It's going to be up and down with young players and their emotions. ... They can turn the corner, but they just haven't put it all together yet."
Louisville's tournament outlook seems solid despite just one win over a ranked team (against Missouri in November), but the Cardinals enter a five-game stretch with three on the road. After the Georgetown (13-4, 3-3) matchup, Louisville hosts Pittsburgh and Marquette before traveling to Rutgers and No. 24 Notre Dame.
Each upcoming opponent except Rutgers has either been ranked or received votes in the poll this season. Still, Pitino's concern is his Cardinals putting their last loss behind them.
"We move on and get ready to face a very tough Georgetown team," he said.
-- Gary Graves
No. 23 Mississippi tops Tennessee
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Marshall Henderson wasn't at his best during the first half against Tennessee. He more than made up for it after the break.
The 6-foot-2 junior torched the Volunteers for 28 points — including 24 in a dominant second half — as No. 23 Mississippi rallied for a 62-56 victory over Tennessee on Thursday night at a raucous Tad Smith Coliseum.
Henderson is the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer with 18.9 points per game and he put on a show in the second half, making six 3-pointers to push the Rebels (16-2, 5-0 SEC) to their eighth consecutive victory.
"All the sudden he got combustible and started knocking down shots," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "We tried to ride him as hard as we could."
Henderson scored 32 against the Volunteers just two weeks ago in a win in Knoxville, and Tennessee didn't have much more success in the second meeting. The high-energy, sometimes motor-mouthed sharpshooter can occasionally get underneath the skin of opponents. In the lead-up to Thursday's game, Tennessee made it clear stopping Henderson — and his theatrics — was the first priority.
It worked for a while, but didn't last.
Henderson said he was aware of Tennessee's plan thanks to messages sent to him by fans on Twitter. That's when he made a decision.
"I'll take a game off from talking and just let my game talk this time," Henderson said before getting in one barb. "We'll beat them 10 times out of 10."
It's only the second time Ole Miss has started 5-0 in SEC play.
Reginald Buckner added 10 points in a foul-filled game that made both teams go deep into the bench.
Tennessee (9-8, 1-4) led for much of the game — until Henderson got hot. Jordan McRae led the Volunteers with 26 points while Trae Golden added 11.
The shots weren't falling for either team early, and a constant stream of fouls didn't help the rhythm.
By midway through the first half, the starting big men for both teams were relegated to the bench because of foul trouble.
Tennessee made a few more shots than the Rebels to take a 25-18 lead into halftime. It was the fewest points by an Ole Miss team in the first half since 2009.
"It was what I anticipated," Kennedy said. "Tennessee is a physical team, very fundamentally sound, especially defensively. It's very difficult to beat someone two times, especially in the span of about a three-week period."
One reason Ole Miss couldn't find the basket was the Volunteers' lockdown defense on Henderson in the first half. He was matched step for step by a host of Tennessee defenders early and scored just four points in the first half — all on free throws.
He got going early in the second half, hitting two 3-pointers to finally spark the Rebels' offense. Nick Williams made another 3-pointer to give Ole Miss a 33-32 lead with 14:15 remaining.
But the Rebels couldn't stop fouling McRae and the 6-5 junior just kept sinking free throws. He hit eight free throws in a row midway through the second half to help the Vols pull ahead 46-40 with 8:51 left.
That's when Henderson picked up the Rebels and carried them by himself, hitting shot after shot. He finished 7 of 16 from the field, including 6 of 15 from 3-point range (40 percent).
"More than anything, Marshall did a good job making shots," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. "I thought for the most part, we did a good job chasing him, but he stepped up and made big shots so you've got to give credit where it's due."
After shooting just 4 of 23 in the first half (17.4 percent), the Rebels bounced back with a 14 of 26 (53.8 percent) performance in the second half.
Tennessee had 21 turnovers and missed four crucial free throws in the final few minutes. The Volunteers outrebounded the Rebels 41-30.
"The one thing that's good is you put yourself in position to win," Martin said. "Now you've just got to make the plays."
-- David Brandt
No. 18 South Carolina upsets No. 5 Kentucky
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Dawn Staley has done a lot in her five seasons at South Carolina. Add beating a top-five team to her list of accomplishments.
The No. 18 Gamecocks (17-3, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) beat No. 5 Kentucky 55-50 Thursday night, using their pressure defense to hold the Wildcats 30 points under their average. It was South Carolina's first win over a top-five team since 1998.
Staley has revived South Carolina's program, bringing the team to its first NCAA tournament in nine years last season. But a win over one of the elite programs has been just out of her reach, such as the four-point loss to then top-ranked Stanford in December.
"We kept coming up short against opponents like a Kentucky, like the Stanfords and Tennessees. I'm happy to see their hard work, what they put into it, paid off," Staley said.
Kentucky (18-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) led for most of the second half before the Gamecocks went on an 18-4 run to take a 52-44 lead with 3:34 left. South Carolina hit just three free throws down the stretch, but the defense hung on.
The Wildcats hadn't lost since an 85-51 defeat to then-No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 13. But they appeared rattled at the end. O'Neil missed a teammate entirely with a pass with Kentucky down three with 17 seconds to go. The Wildcats turned it over again 5 seconds later as Ashley Bruner ended Kentucky's last chance knocking away an inbound pass with 12.7 seconds left.
"This was the first time we have faced serious adversity," O'Neil said. "Like coach said, we didn't have poise."
Kentucky came into the game as the second-best offense in the SEC at 79 points a game. But the Wildcats ran into the best defense in the SEC. South Carolina allows just 48 points a game and has held every opponent but one under 60 points.
Kentucky went almost nine minutes without a point in the first half, and scored just one bucket in six minutes as South Carolina built its biggest lead of the game at eight points. The Wildcats shot 32.8 percent (19 of 58) from the field. A Kentucky team that led the SEC by forcing 10 more turnovers than its opponents, turned the ball over 18 times — two more than South Carolina.
South Carolina scored five more points on the fast break against a Kentucky team that prides itself on getting easy baskets after turning up the pressure.
"We just were not nearly as tough as them tonight," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said.
The Gamecocks shot just 37.7 percent (20 of 53), but that is fine with Staley, especially when the game stays in the 50s.
"It's exhausting to play as hard as we play defensively. It takes the wind out of you. But the crowd put the life back into us and we came up with some big plays," Staley said.
Ieasia Walker had 16 points and eight rebounds, while Aleighsa Welch scored 11 points and had seven rebounds and Elem Ibiam added eight points and eight rebounds for South Carolina.
Jennifer O'Neil led Kentucky with 17 points, while DeNesha Stallworth added 12 points and 10 rebounds and A'dia Mathies also scored 12 points.
The Gamecocks even overcame their biggest weakness. South Carolina is next-to-last in Division I in free throws, shooting just 54 percent. But they hit 10 of their last 16 foul shots, even though they shot just 48 percent from the foul line in the game (13 of 27).
The biggest foul shots came with 13 seconds left as Welch went to the line for two shots and the Gamecocks ahead three points.
"I just wanted her to shoot our average," Staley said.
Welch missed the first, but made the second. It was enough to seal the win.
The Gamecocks celebrated their milestone win, but not too much. Staley has bigger goals than an upset in January. She wants this team to finish at the top of the SEC and make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
"We just talked about it in the locker room," Ibiam said. "We talked about not getting too comfortable."
-- Jeffrey Collins
No. 9 Tennessee defeats Vanderbilt
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Taber Spani remembered only too well losing in Memorial Gym last season, and the senior made sure the Tennessee Lady Vols avoided a repeat performance.
Spani scored a career-high 24 points and Meighan Simmons added 23 as No. 9 Tennessee beat Vanderbilt 83-75 Thursday night for the Lady Vols' ninth straight victory.
"Well, I mean honestly you just want to come in and play your best against a great SEC team," Spani said. "Obviously, this is a great rivalry game. But we also have a lot of respect for Vanderbilt and what they're capable of doing and it's always a great environment."
Simmons said the Lady Vols wanted to send a message as well in this rivalry between SEC schools separated by 190 miles.
"We had to remind ourselves there's only one school in the state of Tennessee, and that's the University of Tennessee," Simmons said. "We wanted to prove that point tonight."
With No. 5 Kentucky losing to No. 18 South Carolina earlier in the night, Tennessee (16-3, 7-0) is the Southeastern Conference's last undefeated team in league play. Simmons said that's exactly where the Lady Vols expected to be. Coach Holly Warlick cautioned it's still very early this season.
"But yeah, it's great to be undefeated and be on top of the SEC," Warlick said. "But ... we're not satisfied absolutely."
The Lady Vols have won 11 straight SEC games dating back to last season and a loss here at Memorial Gym. They got a small measure of payback by beating Vanderbilt for the 25th time in 27 games in this series.
Bashaara Graves also had 16 points for Tennessee.
Vanderbilt (13-6, 3-3) lost for the first time at home this season and has lost three of four overall. The Commodores played without 6-foot-4 sophomore Clair Watkins, who tore her left anterior cruciate ligament in practice Wednesday. They still pulled down 21 offensive rebounds despite being outrebounded 46-43.
Christina Foggie led Vandy with 22 points before fouling out in the final minute, Tiffany Clarke had 19 and Kady Schrann 14.
The Commodores managed to tie the score twice, the second time at 41 after scoring the first 12 points of the second half. The Lady Vols answered with an 11-2 spurt capped by a drive by Simmons with 12:45 to go, and Vanderbilt couldn't get closer than five the rest of the way. Tennessee hit 14 of 15 at the line in the final 3:49 to seal the victory.
Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb wasn't happy with how her Commodores trailed 41-29 at halftime and shot only 25.6 percent from the floor (10 of 39).
The Commodores came in as the SEC's second-best team beyond the arc, shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range. They shot 21.7 percent (5 of 23) and missed three 3s in the final minutes with a chance to make it a one-score game. But Balcomb said the game plan called for the Commodores to work the ball into the paint and defend Simmons and Spani.
"I'm just baffled by the first half," Balcomb said. "I liked the fight in the second half, but obviously the first half I didn't. We just didn't execute our game plan. Our kids are smarter than that. They have to work harder at the things we're asking them to do."
Tennessee had coach emeritus Pat Summitt sitting on the front row behind their bench right beside Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, just her second road trip this season. She watched the Lady Vols do what they usually do in Nashville. The Lady Vols now are 61-8 all-time against Vanderbilt in this in-state rivalry and 24-6 in Nashville.
Spani said having Summitt at the game meant the world.
"We were so excited when we found out she was coming, I was really trying to look for her, and I finally found her before the game," Spani said. "She brings inspiration to our team every time we see her."
The Lady Vols grabbed control from the start on a jumper by Isabelle Harrison, whose father Dennis played football for Vanderbilt in the 1970s. Vanderbilt managed to tie it up at 4 before Simmons hit a 3-pointer to put Tennessee ahead to stay. Simmons followed with another 3 and celebrated as she ran backward down the court signaling three with each hand.
Spani hit her first two 3s as well as the Lady Vols quickly pushed the lead to double digits. Even when something went wrong for the Lady Vols when Simmons missed a layup off the fast-break after moving the ball behind her back, Kamiko Williams was there to rebound the miss and put it back up for a bucket.
Tennessee led by as much as 15 with 1:50 left on Spani's third 3 of the half, and the Lady Vols led 41-29 at halftime only to watch that lead evaporate in the opening minutes of the second half.
-- Teresa M. Walker
Big 12 Men
Former Kansas star Chalmers to have jersey retired
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Mario Chalmers remembers the first time he gazed up to the rafters in Allen Fieldhouse and read the names on the jerseys hanging above one end.
Wilt Chamberlain. Paul Pierce. Clyde Lovellette.
He was at Late Night at the Phog, the annual celebration to kick off fall practice, during his freshman year in 2004. Chalmers read the names and imagined himself having the kind of career that might one day land his name among the pantheon of Jayhawk stars.
That day will come Feb. 16, during halftime of Kansas' game against Texas.
Chalmers, whose buzzer-beating shot helped deliver the Jayhawks the 2008 national title, will have his No. 15 raised to the rafters. It will join 27 other men and three women who have had their names enshrined in one of college basketball's historic venues.
-- Dave Skretta
Top 25 Men
Marshall has No. 20 Wichita State flying high
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — There are some coaches in college basketball who always seem composed. They may be churning below the surface, but outwardly they're calm, keeping everything bottled up until a player makes an errant pass or an official's call goes the other way.
Gregg Marshall is not one of those coaches.
The sixth-year coach of Wichita State is the fly that fell in the can of Red Bull, perpetual motion personified. He stalks the sidelines in his jet-black suit for 40 minutes every night, his screaming voice augmented by his flailing arms and stomping feet. He'd be wasting his time if he wasn't talking to four people at once — calling for a sub, conferring with an assistant, ripping a referee, all while ordering up the next play.
"We don't always do things perfect, and when we don't, he can get loud," admitted Carl Hall, a senior forward. "But he just wants to win. That's him. He's all about winning."
He's been doing plenty of that lately.
The Shockers rose to No. 20 in the polls and first place in the Missouri Valley after a dramatic win over then-No. 12 Creighton last Saturday. Now at 18-2 after beating Missouri State on Wednesday night, they're well on their way toward a fourth straight season of at least 25 wins, and their second consecutive NCAA tournament berth.
They've beaten mid-major darling VCU on the road, Iowa on a neutral floor and Southern Miss — another NCAA tournament-bound team — at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita.
They're also perfect at Koch Arena, their raucous on-campus home.
"Since I've been here, we've been first or second in the Valley. We've always had winning teams," said Demetric Williams, a senior guard. "That's our expectation."
Even when injuries ravage the team, that didn't change. Three starters went down during a week in December, and only Hall has returned. Sharpshooter Evan Wessel had season-ending surgery last week, and versatile guard Ron Baker isn't expected back until February.
Not that it matters much to Marshall. He'll coach whoever is on the floor.
"Coming into this year, we were picked fourth in the Valley for a reason," he said, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Losing four seniors off the NIT championship team two years ago, and then losing five seniors last year who happened to be our five leading scorers — we've lost nine starters in two years who were all valuable, core guys.
"We liked our recruiting class and we liked some of the guys we were redshirting, and coming in, but at the same time, they weren't proven here. So it was a fair prediction. That was one deal," he added. "And then the three injuries, that's another adversity, a stressful unknown."
They've managed to overcome it with one of the most diverse rosters around.
Hall is from Georgia and played junior college ball in Florida. Seven-footer Ehimen Orukpe is from Lagos, Nigeria, by way of Three Rivers (Mo.) Community College. Wessel is a hometown kid who starred at Wichita Heights High School. Nick Wiggins and Chadrack Lufile are Canadians, and Kadeem Coleby, a redshirting transfer from Louisiana-Lafayette, is originally from the Bahamas.
Somehow, they found their way to Wichita State's low-key, brick-and-mortar campus, nestled within a working-class community on a wind-swept prairie in south-central Kansas.
"It's pretty incredible what Gregg Marshall has done in his time there," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said, "with his personnel changing every year it seems."
"I enjoy all my teams," Marshall said, "but some are a little harder to deal with, some a little more reluctant to accept coaching. But the other day, I found myself really enjoying practice. And I'm not a smiling, happy-go-lucky guy at practice. It's a time to work, to improve, to get better. But the other day, I thought, 'Man, this is fun.'"
That's a sentiment echoed by folks all over town.
Without a football program, the basketball team is the biggest thing going in a former oil boomtown that now relies heavily on the aviation industry and has struggled heavily during an economic downturn that has made corporate jets an endangered species.
Truth be told, it's been that way for years.
The Shockers were a dominant program during the 1960s, led by Hall of Fame coach Ralph Miller and buoyed by stars such as Dave "the Rave" Stallworth. They were No. 1 for a short time during the 1964-65 season, ultimately losing to John Wooden's UCLA team in the Final Four.
After a few down years, Wichita State regained national prominence in the late '70s behind future NBA players such as Xavier McDaniel, Antoine Carr and Cliff Levingston. Mark Turgeon arrived in 2000, ushering in seven more years of prosperity.
It certainly hasn't ebbed with the arrival of Marshall, who took Winthrop to seven NCAA tournaments and turned down more than one BCS job before signing on with the Shockers.
"We were there for nine years," Marshall said. "There were other jobs offered to me that were a little bit better, and I wasn't interested. And I almost stayed at Winthrop. I had a 10-year contract on the table when I left. They were going to put my name on the court, but the caveat is I would have to be there 10 more years, and I didn't want to do that."
Instead, he wanted another challenge in a new environment.
Marshall rises from his seat during an hour-long interview in his office — he's always on the move, after all — and starts pointing out mementos from his coaching career.
On one wall is a net from the championship he won as a player at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., where he also got his coaching start. Nine more nets hang from nails on another wall, the seven Big South titles that he won with the Eagles along with his first Missouri Valley title at Wichita State and the NIT title that his Shockers won two seasons ago.
There's a framed picture of him holding his son, Kellen, after Winthrop won its third Big South championship. The boy had predicted that the first team to 67 points would win, Marshall explained, and in the background the scoreboard reads, "Winthop 67, Radford 65."
In the corner of Marshall's office sits a surfboard from a trip to the Maui Invitational. Basketballs painted to mark milestones crowd a shelf behind his cluttered desk. The dry erase board is crammed with the names of potential recruits, the Xs and Os of a game plan, a breakdown of an opposing team's roster and enough statistics to make a sabrematrician shudder.
Marshall insists he's not a sentimental person, despite all the keepsakes. But that would help to explain why he spent so many years in Rock Hill, S.C., and why he's turned down offers to leave Wichita State for higher-paying jobs in marquee conferences.
Besides, Marshall said, he has a seven-year contract in the seven figures that rolls over every year, and there's something to be said for stability. Another good recruiting class is coming in next season, and with a few returning stars, the Shockers' momentum appears to be building rather than petering out.
Is it possible that Marshall will move on someday? Sure. Maybe even this year. But it would take the right offer in the right place, and it would have to come at the right time.
"You can't buy happy," he said with conviction. "Winning is important to me. We've proven we can win here. And so it would have to be really, really special."
-- Dave Skretta
Capsules: Burke, Michigan pull away from Purdue
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Trey Burke had 15 points and eight assists and gave No. 2 Michigan a boost on defense, helping the Wolverines shake free of Purdue in the second half for a 68-53 win Thursday night.
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 13 points for Michigan, which has a chance to move to No. 1 in the next AP poll if it can win at Illinois on Sunday. Duke, the current top-ranked team, lost Wednesday.
The Wolverines (18-1, 5-1 Big Ten) trailed by seven in the first half, but Purdue (10-9, 3-3) couldn't keep up its torrid outside shooting. Terone Johnson scored 14 points for the Boilermakers.
Michigan took control with a 14-2 run in the second half. The Wolverines have won 28 of their last 29 home games — the only loss was to Purdue last February.
UCLA 84, NO. 6 ARIZONA 73
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Shabazz Muhammad scored 23 points, Jordan Adams added 15 and UCLA rode a dominating start to an 84-73 win over No. 6 Arizona.
The Pac-12's top scoring and shooting team, UCLA (16-4, 6-1) tried to turn Arizona's whiteout into a blowout, racing to a 16-point lead in the game's first seven minutes.
David Wear added 15 points and eight rebounds for UCLA.
Arizona (16-2, 4-12) got off to a miserable start at both ends and never fully recovered, pulling no closer than four points after digging a huge opening hole.
Nick Johnson had 23 points, Mark Lyons added 16 and Solomon Hill 13 for the Wildcats, who went 5 for 24 from 3-point range.
NO. 10 GONZAGA 83, BYU 63
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Kelly Olynyk scored 26 points and Elias Harris added 25 as No. 10 Gonzaga beat BYU 83-63 in a showdown for first place in the West Coast Conference.
Olynyk shot 9 for 9 from the field and 8 for 8 on free throws to go along with nine rebounds, and Harris had 10 boards for Gonzaga (18-2, 5-0), which was coming off a last-second loss at No. 9 Butler last weekend.
Josh Sharp and Brandon Davies led BYU (15-6, 5-2) with 14 points each.
Tyler Haws, the WCC scoring leader at 21 points per game coming in, was held to just one point for the Cougars. Haws had 42 points against Virginia Tech, the most by a Division I player this season. His previous low this season was nine points against Iowa State, and he had scored at least 20 in seven consecutive games coming in.
RICHMOND 86, NO. 19 VCU 74
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kendall Anthony scored 21 of his 26 points after halftime and Darien Brothers hit two huge 3-pointers as Richmond needed overtime to end No. 19 VCU's 13-game winning streak.
Brothers had 18 points and Cedrick Lindsay 13 as the Spiders (13-7, 3-2 Atlantic 10) won for only the second time in their last nine meetings with the Rams. Richmond hit 12 3-pointers with Anthony making five and Brothers four, including one with 1.5 seconds left in regulation to force the overtime, and another to clinch it with 1:35 to play in OT.
Juvonte Reddic had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Treveon Graham had 15 points, all after halftime, and 10 rebounds for VCU (16-4, 4-1), which never got its ball-hawking havoc defense unleashed against the steady Spiders.
Both teams finished with 13 turnovers and scored 17 off their takeaways.
Top 25 Women
Capsules: Liston, Duke rebound against Clemson
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Tricia Liston scored 22 points and No. 4 Duke bounced back from a blowout loss earlier this week, beating Clemson 60-46 on Thursday night.
The Blue Devils (17-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their 17th straight over the Lady Tigers (5-13, 1-6), but needed a second-half rally to get it done. Duke lost 79-49 at Connecticut on Monday night and struggled much of the game to get things going against Clemson.
The Lady Tigers led 26-23 after Quinyotta Pettaway's foul shots with 13:34 to play as Duke missed its first 11 shots of the period. But the Blue Devils took off on a 26-9 run to take control. Liston started the charge with a 3-pointer and hit two jumpers to put Duke ahead for good.
Elizabeth Williams added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Blue Devils.
Nikki Dixon had 17 points to lead the Tigers.
NO. 8 PENN ST. 64, MINNESOTA 59
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Maggie Lucas scored 26 points, and Nikki Greene had 13 rebounds and hit three key second-half buckets to help No. 8 Penn State hold off Minnesota for its 10th straight win.
Alex Bentley added 12 points as the Lady Lions (16-2, 6-0 Big Ten) won despite struggling from the field.
The Gophers (13-7, 2-4) had a chance to take the lead twice late with the ball in the hands of their best player, Rachel Banham (19 points). But the sophomore was whistled for traveling and an offensive foul on back-to-back possessions with 1:09 left, with Minnesota trailing by one each time.
Banham then missed a potential tying 3 with 13 seconds left and Lucas pumped her arms after getting fouled on the other end. Her two free throws gave Penn State an insurmountable five-point lead with 2.9 seconds left.
NO. 10 MARYLAND 85, NO. 11 NORTH CAROLINA 59
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Tianna Hawkins scored 25 points, Alyssa Thomas had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and 10th-ranked Maryland ended No. 11 North Carolina's 11-game winning streak.
Thomas fell two assists short of her second career triple-double and Chloe Pavlech scored 18 for the Terrapins (16-3, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). Maryland has won six straight since falling to North Carolina on Jan. 3.
Krista Gross and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt each scored 15 for the Tar Heels (18-2, 6-1), who fell into third place in the ACC behind Duke and the Maryland. North Carolina went 1 for 19 from 3-point range.
NO. 15 PURDUE 77, NORTHWESTERN 73
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Courtney Moses scored 26 points and No. 15 Purdue held on to beat Northwestern.
Taylor Manuel scored 16 points and Sam Ostarello had 10 points and 16 rebounds for the Boilermakers (16-3, 5-1), who bounced back from their first Big Ten loss on Sunday at Iowa.
Drey Mingo also had 10 points for Purdue.
Northwestern trailed by 19 in the second half, but closed within 71-69 with 28 seconds to play after Dannielle Diamant's 3-pointer. Moses made four free throws and Ostarello hit a pair in the final 25 seconds for Purdue.
Maggie Lyon led the Wildcats (9-10, 1-5) with 18 points. Kendall Hackney scored 17, Karly Roser had 14 points and eight assists, and Lauren Douglas scored 12 points for Northwestern.
NO. 17 DAYTON 80, GEORGE WASHINGTON 52
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Amber Deane had 22 points, leading a group of four Dayton players in double figures, as the No. 17 Flyers cruised past George Washington.
Deane also had six rebounds and two steals as Dayton (16-1, 4-0 Atlantic 10) raced out to a 44-26 lead at the half and never looked back. Ally Malott scored 17 points, Samantha MacKay had 13 and Cassie Sant 12.
Tara Booker had 10 points and nine rebounds and Shi Heria Shipp also scored 10 for the Colonials (7-11, 1-3).
Dayton forced 22 turnovers, as the Flyers continued their best start in school history.
NO. 23 MICHIGAN 61, INDIANA 43
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Rachel Sheffer scored 19 points, helping No. 23 Michigan get back on track.
Kate Thompson added 13 points, and Nya Jordan had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Wolverines (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten), who had their 10-game winning streak snapped in a loss to No. 8 Penn State on Monday.
Aulani Sinclair led the Hoosiers (10-9, 1-5) with 14 points, and Nicole Bell chipped in 11 off the bench. Indiana shot just 26 percent from the field.
The Hoosiers kept the game close until midway through the first half, when Michigan used an 11-2 run to take control en route to a 37-24 halftime lead. The Wolverines kept it up in the second half, leading by as many as 24.
NEBRASKA 59, NO. 25 MICHIGAN ST. 54
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Jordan Hooper scored 25 points to lead Nebraska past No. 25 Michigan State.
Lindsey Moore had 12 points and six assists for Nebraska (14-6, 4-3 Big Ten). Hooper also had seven rebounds for the Cornhuskers, who led most of the way.
Nebraska was ahead 30-23 at halftime and never trailed after that, and led by 10 with just over a minute to play.
Kiana Johnson scored 22 points, making four 3-pointers, to lead the Spartans, who had won three in a row. Michigan State (16-3, 4-2) was playing its first game at Nebraska.
Courtney Schiffauer added 11 points and Jasmine Thomas scored 10 for Michigan State.