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NCAA Basketball News and Notes: January 3, 2019

Here is a look at some of the biggest news stories surrounding the world of NCAA basketball.

Alford Fired By UCLA

UCLA has fired head coach Steve Alford after five-plus seasons with the Bruins. The school announced the move on Monday after UCLA lost for a fourth straight time, dropping their record to 7-6 on the season. Assistant coach Murry Bartow was announced as the interim coach for the remainder of the 2018-19 season. Alford was named the head coach at UCLA prior to the 2013-14 season and posted a career record of 124-63 during his time at the school. He guided the Bruins to four NCAA Tournament appearances in his five years, but a slow start this season cost him his job. Alford never got his team to advance past the Sweet 16, but guided him to that round on three different occasions. He previously coached at New Mexico, Iowa, and Missouri State before taking on the job at UCLA. An extensive search is expected to name the next coach of the Bruins prior to the 2019-20 season.

Tony Bland Pleads Guilty

Former University of Southern California assistant coach Tony Bland has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery. Bland is scheduled to be sentenced on April 2, but he is likely to serve little to no jail time. The former assistant coach admitted to receiving $4,100 in cash in an effort to convince players to go to a certain school. Bland is just the first of four assistant coaches set to go on trial in the coming months. Chuck Person, former Auburn assistant coach, is set to go on trial with another man in February. Emanuel Richardson and Lamont Evans will be defendants in a trial that will take place in April. There are more than 20 NCAA schools that have been mentioned in regards to the scandal, but no schools have been formally sanctioned.

Kingsby Transfers From LSU

Former junior college standout Danya Kingsby announced on New Year’s Day that he plans to transfer from the LSU basketball program. Kingsby did not play in a single game for the Tigers this season after joining the team as a junior college transfer. LSU head coach Will Wade routinely mentioned that Kingsby was suffering through a medical issue and was never cleared for full contact. Kingsby averaged 13.3 points and 3.7 in guiding the College of Southern Idaho to the national championship game. LSU finished the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 10-3 record.

Abu Kigab Leaving Oregon

The Oregon Ducks are losing sophomore forward Abu Kigab. Kigab has elected to not return to the Oregon program for the rest of the season and will be transferring out of the school. Oregon brought in a top-five recruiting class this season, and playing time was not available for Kigab. He played in 45 career games with the Ducks, playing just nine minutes a game and averaging 1.8 points and 1.5 rebounds per contest. Oregon was picked to win the Pac-12 prior to the season but went just 9-4 in the non-conference portion of the season. The Ducks will host rival Oregon State to kick off Pac-12 Conference play.

Dean Wade Could Return Soon

Kansas State senior Dean Wade is close to returning to the floor for the Wildcats. Wade suffered an ankle injury earlier this season, which is the second ankle injury suffered in nine months. The Kansas State star was forced to miss a pair of NCAA Tournament games a season ago with a stress fracture in his left foot. Wade was named Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year this season, making him just the second player in K-State history to have that honor. He averaged 18.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game during Big 12 play a season ago and was named first-team All Big 12 at the end of his junior season.

Eric Curry Returns For Minnesota

The Minnesota Golden Gophers welcomed forward Eric Curry back to the floor in their most recent game. Curry missed all of last season and the first 12 games of this season after suffering a gruesome knee injury in August of 2017. He suffered a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee while playing in a pickup game prior to the 2017-18 season. Curry played 17 minutes in his return, scoring four points and grabbing six rebounds. Minnesota (11-2) will take on the Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday night when Big Ten play resumes.