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Maryland stuns No. 5 Virginia in ACC finale

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland coach Mark Turgeon knew his team was close and on the brink of doing something special after playing in close games all season.

After loses earlier in the year to three ranked teams — Pittsburgh, Duke and Syracuse — by a combined eight points, Saturday afternoon’s matchup with No. 5-ranked Virginia had all of the fixings to satisfy a sold out crowd at Comcast Center.

It did just that.

Playing in its last home game as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Maryland upset the Cavaliers 75-69 in overtime to close out ACC regular-season play.

Maryland, which has been a charter member of the ACC since 1953, will join the Big Ten for the 2014-15 school year.

“Today just wasn’t an ordinary game,” Turgeon said. “You can tell by all of the cameras in here. Playing our last ACC regular-season game, Senior Day and playing a top-5 team in the country.”

“I’m really proud of my group.”

After Virginia forward Anthony Gill tied the game with 0.5 seconds left in regulation, Maryland outscored the Cavaliers 11-5 in the extra session to come away with the win.

Maryland guard Seth Allen scored 20 points to lead all scorers while guard Dez Wells put in 18 to lead four Maryland players in double figures.

“They are very talented,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of Maryland. “They did a good job of spacing and really attacking, and when they can get to the rim like that it changes things.”

The Terrapins scored 32 of their 75 points in the paint including a handful by Allen in the overtime session that stifled the Cavaliers’ defense.

“If you look at points in the paint, 32 is a big number for us,” Bennett said. “We pride ourselves on being a team that tries to take away the lane first and they have guys who are very good off the bounce.”

Virginia was led by Gill’s 15 points. Guard London Perrantes scored 14 points while guards Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris added 12 apiece.

Maryland (17-14, 9-9 ACC) led for the majority of the second half and grew its lead to as big as eight with 16:37 to play at 45-37. Virginia went on a 15-6 run to retake the lead 52-51 after Harris knocked down a 3-pointer with 8:25 remaining.

The Terrapins shot 47.9 percent for the game while Virginia struggled from the field shooting just 38.6 percent which included a dismal 30.4 percent (7 of 23) in the second half. The Cavaliers made just one 3-pointer in the second half and overtime after knocking down five in the first half.

Virginia (25-6, 16-2) took a 35-34 lead at the half thanks to a 3-pointer from Perrantes with 14 seconds to play. Perrantes led the Cavaliers in scoring with 12 first-half points, all coming from beyond the arc.

“At the start Virginia was fresh and we were trying to guard them but we couldn’t,” Turgeon said. “I thought our defense was outstanding the rest of the way. The big difference in our team is we are really guarding.”

Perrantes would not score in the second half after his strong performance in the first 20 minutes.

The Cavaliers shot 50 percent from the field in the half and made five of their 11 3-pointers.

Maryland was led by forward Evan Smotrycz’s 13 points in the half as the Terrapins shot 52 percent from the field.

After Maryland took an early 3-2 lead, Virginia answered with a 14-7 run to take a 16-10 advantage with 12 minutes to play in the half. The Terrapins battled back and used a 10-2 run of their own to lead 20-18 with 9:46 left before the teams went back-and-forth the rest of the way.

NOTES: Virginia G Justin Anderson, who was originally committed to Maryland, averaged 12.5 points per game last season in two games against the Terrapins. … Former Maryland coaches Gary Williams and Lefty Driesell were in attendance for the game. … The loss ends Virginia’s 13-game winning streak. … The Cavaliers will enter next week’s ACC Tournament as the No. 1 seed while Maryland will either be the eight or

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

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NCAA News Wire

Wisconsin earns top seed after conference tournament win

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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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SMU outmuscles Connecticut to take AAC title

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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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Alabama fires head coach Grant

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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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