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Maryland 64, Virginia Tech 47

The Sports Xchange



COLLEGE PARK, Md. — If the Maryland Terrapins were to still have a shot at postseason play, they had to find their shooting touch in a hurry.

Maryland did just that in the second half of a 64-47 ACC win over Virginia Tech on Tuesday night at the Comcast Center, snapping a two-game losing streak and keeping the Terrapins’ slim hopes alive.

Maryland (16-14, 7-9 ACC) stormed out of the locker room with senior guard Dez Wells stealing a pass and converting a three-point play to put the Terrapins back on top 31-29. That play triggered a 15-4 run.

The Terps opened a 43-33 lead with 14:31 remaining after back-to-back 3-pointers from forward Jake Layman, who did not start for the first time in 28 games after a 1-for-14 shooting game at Clemson. He finished with a team-high 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting from 3-point range.

Maryland had shot below 36 percent from the field as a team in losses to Clemson and Syracuse in its last two games.

Senior forward Jarrell Eddie and center Joey Van Zegeren led Virginia Tech (9-20, 2-15) with 14 points apiece. The Hokies dropped their fifth straight and their 15th game in the last 16.

Wells had 11 points for Maryland and the Terrapins got eight points apiece from guards Seth Allen and Nick Faust and forward Evan Smotrycz.

In fact, the Terrapins hit five of their first eight 3-point attempts to start the half, negating Virginia Tech’s sagging 2-3 zone and forcing the Hokies to play a little quicker with the Maryland lead in double digits.

While Maryland’s perimeter game was finally unfettered, the inside game was more of a question mark than ever as sophomore forward Charles Mitchell, who started the last eight games, did not return from the locker room for the second half until the midpoint. He sat at the end of the bench and did not play after getting four points and two rebounds in 12 minutes in the first half.

Virginia Tech led 29-28 at halftime — the Hokies’ first halftime lead in four games — thanks to some good work in the paint and from behind the arc.

Tech forged a 21-11 rebounding edge, turned it into a 10-2 advantage in second-chance points and hit 5 of 10 from 3-point range, including three from Eddie, who led all scorers with nine points.

After trailing for much of the early going, Virginia Tech used a 14-4 run to take a 23-17 lead at 8:18, when Eddie and guard Will Johnston hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Two free throws by forward Marshall Wood during the run gave the Hokies their first lead at 17-15 with 9:43 left in the half.

Maryland got six points from Smotrycz, who hit two early 3s to help the Terrapins to an 8-4 lead.

Maryland finished the half with a dunk by Faust with two seconds left, part of an 11-6 spree to end the half. Wells scored all six of his points during the run and also had three assists at halftime.

NOTES: Maryland closes out the regular season on Sunday, hosting No. 5 Virginia at noon. Virginia Tech finishes the season on Saturday at Georgia Tech. … The Terrapins did not win back-to-back games in February and have consecutive victories only once since Jan. 4. … Juniors Nick Faust and Dez Wells each appeared in their 100th collegiate game. Wells’ first 32 as a freshman came at Xavier. … Terrapins G/F Jake Layman, who made just 1 of 14 shots from the field at Clemson on Sunday, failed to start for the first time in 28 games. … Virginia Tech G Adam Smith, who has started nine games, missed the game with a stress fracture in his left fibula, the 14th game he has missed. Forward Cadarian Raines (sprained ankle) and promising freshman G Ben Emelogu (left ankle injury) were also out, bringing the total of missed games for Hokie scholarship players to 34. … Maryland is 5-2 at home vs. Virginia Tech since the Hokies joined the ACC in 2004-05. This is the last conference meeting between the two programs with Maryland joining the Big Ten next season.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.


NCAA News Wire

Wisconsin earns top seed after conference tournament win

The Sports Xchange



CHICAGO — The Wisconsin Badgers earned a historic NCAA top seed Sunday, but their approach going forward will be strictly business as usual.

Wisconsin (31-3) beat Michigan State 80-69 in overtime in Sunday’s Big Ten tournament title game to complete a championship sweep and were rewarded with the first No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed in program history.

“I’m sure it will sink in,” Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. “What we need right now is to get these guys back (home). We have class tomorrow, some of these guys have tests, they’ve got midterms this week. So it will be business as usual for our student-athletes.”

But players like forward Frank Kaminsky, the Big Ten tournament most outstanding player, are pretty pumped up.

“It’s awesome,” Kaminsky said. “First No. 1 seed in program history. That’s an accomplishment in and of itself, but we have a lot of goals and aspirations in the NCAA Tournament. So we’re going to prepare for our first game and be ready we tip the ball up.”

No. 6 ranked Wisconsin, the league’s regular-season champion, claimed the Big Ten’s automatic NCAA berth with the overtime win at the United Center and meets No. 16 Coastal Carolina (24-9) in Friday’s West Region opener in Omaha, Neb.

The overtime outcome was the first in Big Ten tournament history.

Michigan State (23-11) is also tourney bound with a No. 7 seed in the East Region. The Spartans will face Georgia, which is the 10th seed, on Friday in Charlotte, N.C.

Ryan was initially at a loss for words after the Badgers’ dramatic come-from-behind win.

“I’m speechless and that’s hard to do,” he said. “It was the fight in this group, and to do what they did when it seemed like Michigan State couldn’t do anything wrong. I just hope we have something left in us come NCAA Tournament time.”

The Badgers rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit and back into contention late in the game. They then scored 11 unanswered points in overtime behind seven points form forward Nigel Hayes.

Hayes closed with a game-high 25 points and was 12-for-12 from the free throw line. Kaminsky had 19, guard Bronson Koenig finished with 18 while reserve forward Duje Dukan added 11.

Michigan State, making its third title game appearance in four years, was led by forward Branden Dawson and guard Denzel Valentine with 16 apiece while reserve guard Bryn Forbes had 10.

“I thought we played one of the greatest games we’ve ever played for 32, 32 and one-half minutes or 35, 36 minutes,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “And then we made a couple of mistakes and they made a couple of great shots and that’s the way the game goes.”

Wisconsin trailed 57-46 in the second half when Koenig launched a comeback with a 3-pointer and added another with 4:19 left to give the Badgers a temporary 60-59 lead.

“We were down eleven and they thought they had it in the bag,” Koenig said. “But I kept reminding my teammates that we were never going to give up.”

Guard Lourawls Nairn’s 3-pointer then put Michigan State up 62-60 as the teams exchanged leads three times and tied four times. The last in regulation came on Koenig’s two free throws for a 69-69 deadlock.

A potential game-winning shot by Dawson rolled in and out as regulation time expired.

In the first half, Michigan State outscored Wisconsin 10-5 in the final 3:25 for a 32-31 halftime lead after a half that saw with seven lead changes and five ties. The Spartans opened a 32-28 lead after a turnover by Koenig and a rebound put back by forward Marvin Clark with 25 seconds showing. But Wisconsin narrowed the deficit to 32-31 as Kaminsky hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

It was the Badger’s fifth successful shot from beyond the arc in the half. Wisconsin ended 13-of-26 (50 percent) on 3-point shooting for the game.

NOTES: Sunday’s game was tied 13 times and had 14 lead changes. … The Badgers claimed a 68-61 win in March in the long regular season meeting behind F Frank Kaminsky’s season-high 31 points. … The Badgers’ two previous Big Ten tournament titles came in wins over Illinois in 2004 and 2008. … Wisconsin’s 31 wins match an all-time

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NCAA News Wire

SMU outmuscles Connecticut to take AAC title

The Sports Xchange



HARTFORD, Conn. — After a crushing omission from the NCAA Tournament last season, the 20th-ranked Southern Methodist Mustangs didn’t have any worries during this year’s Selection Show. They are dancing for the first time since 1993.

SMU’s deep and talented frontcourt frustrated the Connecticut Huskies on both ends of the floor, paving the way for the team’s first conference title in 27 years with a 62-54 win in the American Athletic Conference championship game on Sunday.

SMU earned a No. 6 seed and will face No. 11 UCLA in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Charlotte, N.C.

“This is big for all of us,” said senior guard Ryan Manuel, “not just the seniors but it’s as big for SMU as a school, as a basketball program. When coach (Larry) Brown got here, he wanted us to put it back on the map, and I think we made great strides in that.”

UConn (20-14), the defending national champion, came into the AAC tournament needing four wins in four days just to return to the NCAA Tournament. After falling just short of their goal, the Huskies are headed to the National Invitation Tournament.

“It’s postseason play,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “If it’s NIT or NCAA, they’re going to learn from it and they’re going to come back better from it. I’m still coaching them the way I coach them, they’re still going to play the way they’re going to play.”

SMU (27-6) was expected to receive an at-large bid if it lost Sunday, but the victory guaranteed it a spot in the NCAA Tournament field after being one of the final teams left out last season.

“Last year at this time was about as disappointing as it could get,” Brown said. “Fortunately we’ve got another opportunity, and didn’t have to get anybody to decide whether we’re worthy or not.”

As it had all weekend long, it was SMU’s frontcourt that anchored the win.

The conference’s Sixth Man of the Year, Markus Kennedy, capped off a strong weekend by leading his team with 14 points, one of four Mustangs players in double figures. He earned the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player for his efforts. The 6-foot-10 junior and his fellow forwards helped SMU to a 43-30 advantage on the glass, with sophomore Sterling Brown pulling in 12 rebounds to lead the team.

Sophomore guard Rodney Purvis had 29 points and was the only UConn player in double figures in scoring.

“I was trying to be aggressive and take what the defense gave me,” he said.

For a while, it appeared this game would not be close. The SMU zone defense that Connecticut had carved up for 81 points just two weeks prior locked things down this time around, and the Mustangs took a 33-19 advantage into halftime by holding UConn to 5-of-24 shooting (20.8 percent) from the floor over the opening 20 minutes.

The Huskies, who made more than 53 percent from the floor and knocked down nine 3-pointers in that win, were just 2 of 13 from beyond the arc in that first half.

Usual leading scorer Ryan Boatright would manage just seven points on 1-of-12 shooting for the game.

“I’m just disappointed in my play,” he said. “I missed a lot of shots that should be easy knock-down shots for me. I didn’t show up and be the player I know I can be, I can be better than that. But my teammates fought, they played a tremendous game.”

UConn made it a game in the second half by doing similar things on the defensive end, thanks in large part to the presence of sophomore Amida Brimah. The 7-foot center, limited to just four first-half minutes because of foul trouble, played the entire second half, blocking seven shots during that time and altering numerous others.

The Huskies were able to get within five points with just over three minutes to play, but the Mustangs would hold on.

“He’s a shot blocker, so it made it a little difficult,” Manuel said about the difference Brimah made in the second half. “UConn, they have a tradition of coming back, and we knew they weren’t going to go down with a fight, so for us to stand there as a team and get the

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NCAA News Wire

Alabama fires head coach Grant

The Sports Xchange



Alabama fired head basketball coach Anthony Grant on Sunday after six seasons.

The Crimson Tide struggled over the final two months of the season, finishing 18-14 and tied for eighth in the Southeastern Conference.

Grant, 48, won at least 20 games three times and made an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012. His Alabama teams went 117-85, including two NIT appearances (2011 and 2013). He came to Alabama from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he went 76-25 and made two NCAA Tournament appearances.

“This has been a very difficult decision, as I have the highest respect for Anthony as a coach, as a molder of young men, and as a person,” Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said in a statement. “Anthony is a man of impeccable character who has been an excellent representative of our program. He has made tremendous contributions to our program and we always will be grateful for his efforts. Anthony, his wife Chris, and their children have been tremendous assets to our University and our community.

“In this business we are ultimately judged by wins and losses on the court and, for a variety of reasons, we haven’t made satisfactory progress in that area.”

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