UConn surprises Spartans in Armed Forces Classic
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, GERMANY (AP) -- Shabazz Napier scored 25 points and Connecticut upset No. 14 Michigan State 66-62 Friday night in the Armed Forces Classic, Kevin Ollie’s first game as the Huskies’ head coach.
UConn led most of the way and by as many as 16 points in the first half of the game, which was played in a hangar at the United States’ Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Keith Appling scored 17 points and Branden Dawson had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Michigan State.
Gary Harris scored to pull the Spartans to 62-60, but Denzel Valentine and Appling each missed a shot in the last minute that would have tied the game, forcing Michigan State to foul.
Napier hit four free throws in the final 13 seconds to seal the win.
Ryan Boatright had 13 points, despite rolling his ankle in the second half, and DeAndre Daniels added 12 for the Huskies.
The 14th-ranked Spartans hit just one of their first eight shots, while Connecticut made nine of its first 10, and raced out to a 20-6 lead on a 3-pointer from Napier.
A steal by Napier and a lob to Ryan Boatright made it 32-18 Huskies, who stretched that to 16. The Spartans closed the half on a 10-2 run, but trailed 40-33 at intermission.
Boatright rolled his left ankle less that 3 minutes into the second half and was hobbled the rest of the game.
The Huskies, who shot 46 percent while holding the Spartans to 40 percent, won despite being outrebounded 43-29.
Ollie took over the program after Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun retired in September. He has been given only a one-year contract with a team that returns just five players who saw significant playing time last season.
The Huskies, who finished last season a disappointing 20-14 a year after winning the program’s third national title, are picked to finish ninth in the Big East this season and are academically ineligible for the Big East and NCAA tournaments.
This is the first season that someone other than Jim Calhoun has been the head coach since Dom Perno coached his final game in 1986.
Three UConn players hail from Germany. Neils Giffey scored three points and Enosch Wolf had two. Leon Tolksdorf did not play.
Michigan State lost its second consecutive opener after winning 33 of its previous 34. The Spartans lost last year to North Carolina in another military tribute game, the Carrier Classic.
Chattanooga 80, Tennessee 71
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Tennessee’s first game of the post-Pat Summitt era revealed in stunning fashion just how much has changed for one of the signature programs in women’s college basketball.
Taylor Hall scored 24 points Friday as Chattanooga stunned No. 20 Tennessee 80-71 in the Lady Vols’ first game under new coach Holly Warlick, who spent the last 27 seasons as an assistant on Summitt’s staff. Chattanooga never trailed in the second half and beat a ranked opponent for the first time ever.
By the end of the game, a McKenzie Arena crowd of 8,468 that had seemed equally divided at the start of the night was gleefully chanting "UTC!" Several dozen fans stormed the court afterward to celebrate with the Lady Mocs.
Summitt, who announced last year she had early-onset dementia, stepped down in April after collecting 1,098 wins, eight national titles and 18 Final Four appearances in 38 seasons. She was succeeded by Warlick, a former three-time All-America guard for Tennessee who was the first athlete at the school to have her number retired.
Summitt remains on staff as head coach emeritus and attends most of Tennessee’s practices. She watched Friday’s game from the fifth row in a narrow section behind and to the right of Tennessee’s bench. Summitt was approached for dozens of photographs and autographs by fans of both teams before the opening tip.
Warlick stood in front of the bench throughout the night with her arms folded or her hands on her hips.
The head coaching switch isn’t the only change surrounding Tennessee this season. The Lady Vols don’t return a single player who started an NCAA tournament game during their run to a regional final last season. Tennessee’s roster includes four freshmen, four sophomores and only one junior and two seniors. Tennessee’s No. 20 preseason ranking is its lowest position in the Top 25 since February 1985.
All those Tennessee underclassmen had plenty of jitters Friday.
Tennessee needed Ariel Massengale to sink a 25-footer at the buzzer just to force a 28-28 halftime tie with Chattanooga, a team that lost 90-47 to the Lady Vols last season. Chattanooga pulled ahead by making six of its first seven shots - including a trio of 3-pointers - in the second half. Chattanooga built on that lead by outhustling the Lady Vols.
In one sequence, Taylor Hall got a putback and drew a foul to give Chattanooga a 45-39 lead. Hall missed the ensuing free throw, but 5-foot-9 guard Kayla Christopher got the rebound and made a 3-pointer to extend the Lady Mocs’ advantage to 48-39.
The Lady Vols turned the ball over five times in the first three minutes. They missed seven of their first eight shots. Tennessee settled down and went on a 16-2 run to take a nine-point lead late in the first half, but Chattanooga answered by reeling off 13 straight points to regain the lead. The Lady Mocs never let up in the second half.
Hall was the best player on the floor all night long. At one point in the first half, Hall was 4-of-4 from the floor while her teammates were a combined 1-of-15. Once Hall started getting more help from her teammates, Chattanooga took the lead and never looked back.
This wasn’t the first time the Lady Vols struggled to leave Chattanooga with a victory. When the Lady Vols last played Chattanooga at McKenzie Arena four years ago, they also had a freshman-laden team and trailed late in the second half before squeaking out a 66-63 victory.
This time, Chattanooga closed the deal.
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