The University of Maine men’s basketball program has paused all team activities after two presumptive positive COVID-19 tests among the team’s Tier-I personnel, according to a press release from the school.

According to the report, the members of the program deemed to be close contacts are in quarantine, and contract tracing and additional testing are underway.

The release does not say how long the team will be on pause and there is no word on the status of the team’s two home games against Binghamton University scheduled for this weekend.

Earlier this season, the team had its game against the University of Virginia canceled after a player tested positive for COVID-19. Additional testing the next day refuted the previous result. On Nov. 24, the university paused all intercollegiate athletic activities for two weeks “due to positive (COVID-19) test results on campus, including among individuals involved with the varsity athletic programs.”

• Hockey East announced it has decided to set aside its men’s and women’s league schedules and will schedule games on a weekly basis.

The change means the University of Maine men’s hockey team will play at Boston University at 3:30 p.m. Friday, and the UMaine women’s hockey team will play at Boston University at 1 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

PENN STATE: The Big Ten Conference reprimanded interim Penn State basketball coach Jim Ferry and fined the university $10,000 for comments Ferry made following a loss to Purdue.

Ferry, named interim coach last fall after Patrick Chambers resigned following an internal investigation into inappropriate conduct, was called out by the conference for his actions after the Nittany Lions lost to the Boilermakers 80-72 on Sunday to fall to 3-5.

Referees issued a technical foul on Ferry in the second half. Afterward, he voiced his concerns about the officiating being “a little uneven or inconsistent.”

“I wasn’t ranting or raving, I wasn’t cursing,” Ferry said after the loss. “I thought there was a little sensitivity on that.”

The Big Ten said Ferry was reprimanded not for the technical foul but for his postgame comments.

NCAA TOURNAMENT: That much-anticipated opening Thursday of March Madness will belong to the play-in teams, part of a scrambled and modestly condensed schedule for the 2021 tournament.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the NCAA to move the entire 67-game tournament to Indiana, which means the schedule doesn’t have to be built with travel concerns in mind.

The so-called “First Four” – two games pitting the last four at-large teams in the field and another two featuring the lowest-rated conference champions – will take place on Thursday, March 18.

That day typically would have marked the start of play in the main bracket. Instead, the first two full days of action are now scheduled for Friday and Saturday, March 19-20, with the round of 32 taking place Sunday and Monday, March 21-22.

The Sweet 16 will run Saturday and Sunday, March 27-28, with none of the games scheduled to overlap, as they often do when they take place on the second Thursday and Friday nights of the tournament. Those winners will face off in the Elite Eight on the following Monday and Tuesday evenings.

The Final Four is still scheduled for Saturday April 3 and Monday April 5.

Purdue and the University of Indiana will host early games, along with Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium.

All action moves to Lucas Oil Stadium starting with the Elite Eight.

FLORIDA 75, (6) TENNESSEE 49: Noah Locke scored 14 points, Tyree Appleby added 13 and short-handed Florida (7-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) stunned visiting Tennessee (10-2, 4-2).

Tre Mann chipped in 12 points for the Gators, who got unexpected help from several bench guys to offset being without three of their best four players. Guard Scottie Lewis (COVID-19 protocols) and forward Colin Castleton (ankle) missed the game.

But forward Omar Payne, starting for the first time in nearly a year, finished with nine points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots for Florida. Seldom-used subs Jason Jitoboh, Osayi Osifo, Niels Lane and Ques Glover also delivered quality minutes against the SEC’s top team.

(7) MICHIGAN 87, MARYLAND 63: Mike Smith made three early 3-pointers as host Michigan (12-1, 7-1 Big Ten) raced to a 17-3 lead in beating Maryland (8-7, 2-6).

Michigan made its first five 3s – Isaiah Livers had the other two – in an opening flurry that put the Wolverines in immediate control. Michigan led 42-25 at halftime and stretched its advantage to as many as 25 points in the second.

Livers led Michigan with 20 points.

Maryland was led by Donta Scott’s 13 points.

PURDUE 67, (15) OHIO STATE 65: Jaden Ivey scored 15 points and made a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 5 seconds remaining, and visiting Purdue (11-5, 6-3 Big Ten) rallied to beat Ohio State (11-4, 5-4).

Trevion Williams scored 16 points for the surging Boilermakers, who have won four straight, three of them on the road. Sasha Stefanovic also had 15 points.

Duane Washington Jr. led Ohio State with 21 points, shooting 6 of 9 from 3-point range.

(19) MISSOURI 81, SOUTH CAROLINA 70: Jeremiah Tilmon had 19 points and 10 rebounds in another efficient performance, and host Missouri (9-2, 3-2 SEC) beat South Carolina (3-4, 1-2).

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

(3) UCONN 103, BUTLER 35: Olivia Nelson-Ododa led a balanced attack with 18 points and UConn (8-0, 7-0 Big East), playing for the first time in 10 days, routed visiting Butler (1-9, 1-8).

The win was Coach Geno Auriemma’s 1,099th at UConn, moving him past late Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, into second place on the all-time list just two days before the Huskies visit Knoxville to take on the Lady Vols.

Christyn Williams and Aubrey Griffin, who made her first start, each scored 17 points for the Huskies, who had five players score in double figures.

Tennessee transfer Evina Wesbrook chipped in with 14 points and freshman Paige Bueckers had 13 points, eight assists and five rebounds.

Okako Adika scored 18 points for Butler.

(23) SYRACUSE 88, NORTH CAROLINA 76: Kiara Lewis scored 10 of her 23 points in Syracuse’s 27-9 fourth quarter, freshman Tiana Mangakahia had 19 points and 13 assists, and the No. 23 Orange (7-1, 4-1 ACC) rallied past the Tar Heels (7-5, 2-5) in Syracuse, New York.

Emily Engstler closed the third quarter with a 3-pointer to pull Syracuse within 67-61, and Mangakahia capped a 7-0 run to open the fourth to give the Orange the lead. North Carolina was within 80-76 with 4:48 remaining, but did not score again.

(24) IOWA STATE 64, OKLAHOMA 63: Ashley Joens hit a go-ahead layup with 10.2 seconds left and finished with 32 points and a season-high 16 rebounds as Iowa State (10-4, 6-1 Big 12 Conference) topped visiting Oklahoma (4-6, 1-4).

BAYLOR: Chrislyn Carr has transferred to Baylor and joined the No. 9 Lady Bears after two-plus seasons at Big 12 rival Texas Tech.

Baylor announced Carr’s addition on Tuesday, though the school said the 5-foot-5 sophomore guard’s eligibility and availability to play for her new team was still being determined.

FOOTBALL

LSU: New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen informed LSU he will not take the Tigers’ defensive coordinator job after initially agreeing in principle to do to so, two people familiar with the situation said.


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