Mississippi State has hired former UCLA coach Ben Howland to lead its basketball program.
The university announced Howland's hiring on Monday night. He'll be introduced in a news conference on campus Tuesday.
The 57-year-old Howland coached at UCLA for 10 years, leading the program to three straight Final Fours from 2006 to 2008. But the Bruins never made it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament during the next five seasons and he was fired in 2013 despite winning the Pac-12.
Howland takes over for Rick Ray, who was fired on Saturday after three losing seasons. Ray had a 37-60 overall record, including a 15-44 mark against Southeastern Conference competition.
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Virginia's Bennettnamed coach of the year
ST. LOUIS — Virginia Coach Tony Bennett has been named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association national coach of the year.
Bennett guided Virginia to a 30-4 record, including a 28-2 mark in the regular season. The award is based on the regular season.
Bennett also won the award named for Hall of Fame coach Henry Iba at Washington State in 2007 and is the ninth coach to win it twice.
He and Roy Williams — Williams at Kansas in 1990 and North Carolina in 2006 — are the only coaches to win the award at two schools.
Virginia was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in a 60-54 loss to Michigan State on Sunday.
Notre Dame's Connaughton a two-sport star
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Another Notre Dame star gets national recognition in one sport and then winds up with a professional career in another? Talk about madness.
History could be repeating itself in South Bend, Ind., where Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton is trying to bring the Irish an NCAA Tournament championship before returning to the minor leagues to pitch for a Baltimore Orioles affiliate.
It was nine years ago that White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija was a standout wide receiver at Notre Dame before starting a career as a minor-league pitcher with the Cubs. Samardzija said at Chicago White Sox camp this week he hasn't spoken to Connaughton, but believes the 6-foot-5 swingman probably could play in either the NBA or in the majors.
"It doesn't happen too often, so it's exciting to see kids these days still playing multiple sports," Samardzija said.
Connaughton, whose fastball has been clocked at 98 mph, isn't as highly touted in basketball as Samardzija was in football. But after the Irish's rise in the rankings this year, his reputation has grown.
Connaughton went 3-5 with a 3.92 ERA in 10 appearances for the Irish baseball team last spring and the Orioles selected him in the fourth round of the baseball draft. MLB.com's scouting report called him the best two-sport athlete in the draft and Connaughton signed for $428,000. MLB.com has him ranked as the Orioles' ninth-best prospect.
He went on to make six appearances for the Orioles' short-season Class A team, posting a 2.51 ERA and striking out 10 in 142⁄3 innings. The Orioles allowed Connaughton to return to Notre Dame for his senior season.
UNC's Meeks iffy
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Doctors are further evaluating the knee injury that Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina's sophomore forward, sustained on Saturday and it's unclear if Meeks will play on Thursday against Wisconsin, Coach Roy Williams said on Monday.
Meeks injured his left knee late in the Tar Heels' victory against Arkansas on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament. The win sent UNC, a No. 4 seed, to the West Regional semifinals in Los Angeles.
Meeks has started 31 of UNC's 36 games.