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UConn holds 1st 'First Night' in 2 years

(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn held its first "First Night" celebration in two years on Friday, filling Gampel Pavilion with students for the annual unofficial start to the basketball season after having to cancel the event last year because of the pandemic.

COVID-19 also prevented all but family and a few friends from attending home games in 2020-21, so it was first chance the Huskies' freshmen and sophomores got to play in front of a home crowd, even if was just an exhibition.

The teams had to show some resiliency when workers were unable to raise one of the baskets. So, after the men's team held an impromptu dunk contest, in which few dunks were made, the women's team participated in a 10-minute half-court scrimmage,


KU, not Baylor, picked as Big 12's best

IRVING, Texas (AP) Kansas has been picked by Big 12 head coaches as the favorite to win the conference title after Baylor won the league title last season and went on to win its first national championship.

The Jayhawks got eight of 10 first-place votes and 80 of 81 potential points from the coaches, who couldn't vote for their own teams in the poll released Thursday. Texas got the remaining two first-place votes and 70 points to rank second.


UCLA picked to win Pac-12 title

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) UCLA is an overwhelming favorite to win the Pac-12 after reaching the Final Four last season.

The Bruins received 32 votes from 34 media members who cover the league in the preseason poll released Wednesday.


Pac-12 hopes to build on 2021 NCAAs run

The Pac-12 had been an afterthought in the NCAA Tournament in recent years, the number of teams getting in dwindling, the deep runs into the bracket rare.

The conference took a big turn last season with three teams reaching the Elite Eight and UCLA playing in the Final Four, changing national perceptions while boosting confidence around the league.


ACC considering relocating headquarters

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Commissioner Jim Phillips said the Atlantic Coast Conference is examining whether its conference headquarters should remain in Greensboro or consider relocating elsewhere.

Phillips, who took over for retiring John Swofford earlier this year, said the discussion is part of an overall assessment of the ACC's structure that includes staffing along with the responsibilities and roles of the office.


Wisconsin seeks new start off tough year

MADISON, Wis. (AP) Wisconsin heads into the upcoming season with a substantially different roster after nearly all of last year's seniors opted against returning.

The Badgers' roster features seven sophomores and five freshmen, which marks the program's largest collection of underclassmen in at least 20 years.


Zags' Few to miss 3 games after arrest

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Gonzaga coach Mark Few will miss two exhibition games and the first game of the regular season after he was arrested last month on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The school made the announcement before the Bulldogs' kickoff event - "Kraziness in the Kennel" - on Saturday.


Big Ten puts priority on mental health

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Michigan State forward Malik Hall noticed the difference during games in the height of the pandemic. Coach Tom Izzo saw issues percolating in other areas of player's lives.

In a season when athletes faced daily testing, regular isolation and quarantines, even uncertainty about whether games would be played or which teammates would be available, Izzo and other basketball coaches sensed the stress was taking a physical and mental toll on their players.


ISU drops C Foster after assault claim

AMES, Iowa (AP) Iowa State announced Friday that center Xavier Foster is no longer a member of the team as police investigate a sexual assault claim.

Coach T.J. Otzelberger said the program holds its athletes to "high standards" on and off the court, the Des Moines Register reported.


Temple hires Texas admin Johnson as AD

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Temple named Arthur Johnson, a veteran administrator at Texas, as the Owls' new athletic director.

Retired Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy held the job on an interim basis since Pat Kraft left in 2020 to become AD at Boston College.