Reggie Bullock

Reggie Bullock’s hot first half lifts North Carolina to big win over Maryland

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If you were looking for the Maryland team that beat No. 14 NC State Wednesday, it did not show up in Chapel Hill for much of its matchup with North Carolina on Saturday.

Maryland turned the ball over 22 times and trailed by as many as 23 points on its way to a 62-52 loss to the Tar Heels Saturday afternoon.

North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock came out of the gate hot, scoring 21 points in the first half. He single-handedly outscored Maryland in the first half, 21-20, before cooling down in the second. He finished with 24 points on 7-of-15 from the floor.

Bullock was 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, but worked the Maryland defense in other ways by attacking the rim and sparking the North Carolina transition attack.

By scoring in transition and forcing turnovers, North Carolina ground the transition-oriented Maryland offense to a halt in the half court. The Tar Heels double-teamed star sophomore Alex Len in the paint and took away much of his face-up game.

This forced the scoring burden onto guards Dez Wells and Pe’Shon Howard.  Wells excelled with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, but Howard struggled. Howard failed to score or register an assist and turned the ball over seven times.

Maryland came out with more life in the second half with help from Wells and a revamped transition game. The Terrapins ripped off an 8-0 run in the opening minutes of the second half to cut the North Carolina lead to 15 points.

They would trim the lead down to a manageable 12-point deficit with 7:40 remaining, but North Carolina extended the lead back to 17 points with 5:49 to play.

James Michael McAdoo played more physical down low against the Maryland combination of Len and Shaquille Cleare. He tallied 19 points and 11 rebounds, including five offensive rebounds.

The win moves North Carolina to 12-5 and 2-2 in the ACC.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: