UConn advances with record rout, beats Miss State 98-38

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) Breanna Stewart had 22 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks to lead No. 1 UConn to a 98-38 record rout of fifth-seeded Mississippi State on Saturday.

The win was the 72nd straight for UConn (35-0) and left the Huskies three victories shy of an unprecedented fourth consecutive national championship. Their road to that historic title got a bit easier Friday night when top seeds South Carolina and Notre Dame both lost in the Sweet 16.

Stewart and the Huskies were determined to make sure the upset trend didn’t continue Saturday. The best team in the nation put together one of its most dominant games during this run, needing just four minutes to quash any thoughts of the Bulldogs pulling off the upset.

The victory supplanted the record 51-point win the Huskies had over Texas in the regional semifinals last year that set the NCAA record for margin of victory in the regional rounds and beyond.

UConn will face either the Longhorns or UCLA in the regional final Monday night.

Stewart, the two-time AP player of the year, got the game started with a 3-pointer and UConn was off and running. The Huskies scored the game’s first 13 points, including 11 by Stewart and Morgan Tuck.

A basket by Mississippi State (28-8) did little to turn the tide as UConn scored 19 of the final 21 points of the quarter, including Moriah Jefferson’s basket that just beat the buzzer.

UConn kept it going in the second quarter, converting turnovers and missed shots into easy baskets. The Huskies shredded the Mississippi State defense, which entered giving up just 54.7 points a game. UConn surpassed that with 1:40 left in the first half and led 61-12 at the break. The Huskies fell two points short of the NCAA record for points in a half in the regionals or later. The Bulldogs points were the second fewest for a half in an NCAA regional semifinal, one more than Texas Tech had against Rutgers in 1999.

Stewart finished the opening 20 minutes with 18 points and 13 rebounds and UConn shot 65 percent (24 for 37) from the field.

The onslaught continued in the second half as UConn extended its advantage to 68. Coach Geno Auriemma took out Stewart and Jefferson for good with 3:52 left in the third quarter to a loud ovation from the nearly 9,000 fans in attendance. Tuck, who finished with 21 points, left soon after.

Victoria Vivians, who came into the game averaging 17.4 points, was held to six. She missed 12 of her 15 shots.

NIL and NCAA: What to know about the new policy and how NBC Sports can help

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As of July 1, 2021, a new NCAA policy has been in effect allowing student-athletes from all three divisions to monetize their name, image, and likeness (often referred to as NIL). As long as the activities are “consistent with the law of the state where the school is located,” athletes now have the opportunity to accept endorsements from brands, monetize their social media presences, and work with professional firms to coordinate deals.

Click here for additional information and guidelines regarding NCAA NIL policies and keep reading to find answers to questions such as how NIL works as well as how NBC Sports can help.

What is NIL and NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct is coming to a school near you. The program enables college student-athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) through a unique marketplace that connects athletes with advertisers. NBC Sports Athlete Direct will work to provide equal opportunities to all student-athletes, regardless of which team you play on or any statistical performance.

How will the NIL Marketplace work?

Advertisers will use NBC Sports Athlete Direct to make NIL offers available to college student-athletes. College student-athletes will then have the option to participate in the NIL offer. Those who decide to participate and complete the advertiser’s campaign requirements will be compensated based on a predetermined rate.

How much money can athletes make participating in NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Compensation will vary by advertiser campaign.

When will NBC Sports Athlete Direct launch and how can I sign up?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct will officially launch in the Fall of 2022 but prior to that, we will be launching a pilot program soon, exclusively for Temple and Vanderbilt student-athletes.

In the meantime, click here to fill out a student-athlete interest form and once it is available at your school, we will notify you and provide you with additional information on how to sign up.

If I participate in NIL offers from NBC Sports Athlete Direct, do I still have the freedom to do other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Yes, this program is non-exclusive so our student-athletes will have the freedom to participate in other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct.

What are the rules or restrictions for participating in this program?

Unfortunately, international students and students under the age of 18 are not eligible to participate in the pilot program at this time.

Kentucky to allow college athletes to earn off likeness

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday allowing the state’s college athletes – including players on the nationally renowned Kentucky and Louisville men’s basketball teams – to make money through the use of their name, image or likeness.

The Democratic governor said he took the action as a matter of fairness for college athletes. It will spare Kentucky’s colleges from being at a competitive disadvantage with rivals in other states that will have laws enabling athletes to profit off their name, image or likeness, he said.

“This is important to our student-athletes, who for decades, others – whether it’s companies or institutions – have profited on,” Beshear told reporters. “These athletes deserve to be a part of that.”

Beshear said his executive order takes effect July 1, when similar legislation passed in several other states will become law. His office said he was the first governor to make the change by executive order.

The governor’s action won praise from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. UK plays in the Southeastern Conference and UofL competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Bringing the state of Kentucky into competitive balance with other states across the country and, more specifically, the Atlantic Coast Conference is critical,” Vince Tyra, U of L’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said in a release issued by the governor’s office.

UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said the governor’s action “provides us the flexibility we need at this time to further develop policies around name, image and likeness.”

“We are appreciative of that support, as it is a bridge until such time as state and/or federal laws are enacted,” Barnhart said in the same release from Beshear’s office. “The landscape of college sports is now in the midst of dramatic and historic change – perhaps the biggest set of shifts and changes since scholarships were first awarded decades ago.”

In Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas, laws go into effect July 1 that make it impermissible for the NCAA and members schools to prevent athletes from being paid by third parties for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances.

The NCAA had hoped for a national law from Congress that has not come, and its own rule-making has been bogged down for months. College sports leaders are instead moving toward the type of patchwork regulation they have been warning against for months.