Pe'Shon Howard, Justin Anderson

Maryland guard Pe’Shon Howard suspended for Saturday’s game against No. 2 Duke

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Given the lack of high-profile wins on their resume, Maryland’s home game against No. 2 Duke is a critical one for Mark Turgeon’s Terrapins.

And if they’re to beat Duke the Terrapins will have to do so without junior guard Pe’Shon Howard, who has been suspended for a violation of team rules. Howard has struggled this season at the point, and Turgeon noted in his meeting with the media on Friday that there’s no guarantee that the suspension will be for just one game.

Turgeon said Howard is “not making very smart decisions. We’ve got team rules you’ve got to follow. We’ll sit him out this game.”

The coach wouldn’t specify what rules may have been violated. He said Howard will be re-evaluated after this weekend, and that his suspension could last just one game, or perhaps several games.

Howard’s productivity has dropped significantly, as he’s playing ten fewer minutes per game (22.0) this season and averaging 3.3 points and 4.2 assists per contest. The assist number is higher than his average last season (3.7 apg) but he’s shooting 28.6% from the field and 26.3% from beyond the arc.

Turgeon has used three different players at the point this season: Howard, freshman Seth Allen and sophomore Nick Faust. With Howard suspended Allen will see more time at the point, with Faust likely getting the start after doing so in Maryland’s 80-69 loss to Virginia on Sunday.

Faust finished with eight points, three assists and two turnovers against Virginia, and Allen contributed 11 points, five assists, five steals and three turnovers off the bench. Howard finished Sunday’s game with five points and two assists in 17 minutes of action, and Turgeon stated on Friday that the junior has played better coming off the bench.

“He’s just got to make better decisions,” Turgeon said of Howard according to J.P. Finlay of CSNWashington. “He’ll miss one game, maybe two, maybe three. I want him to learn from his decisions.”

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Syracuse upsets No. 18 UConn as Tyler Lydon stars again

St Bonaventure Syracuse Basketball
AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth
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Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney combined for 34 points as Syracuse overcame an early 10-point deficit to knock off No. 18 UConn in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, 79-76.

The talking point at the end of this game is probably going to end up being UConn’s decision not to foul Syracuse with 36 seconds left on the clock. Trevor Cooney dribbled out the clock and, with six seconds left, missed a 35-foot prayer, the offensive rebound getting corralled by Tyler Roberson, sealing the win.

But that’s not the real story here.

That would be Tyler Lydon, who suddenly looks like he may end up being the difference maker for this Syracuse team.

If you don’t know the name, I don’t blame you. Lydon was a low-end top 100 recruit that had been committed to the Orange for a long time. He’s not exactly a game-changing prospect, but he’s a perfect fit for Syracuse. At 6-foot-9, Lydon has the length to be a shot-blocker in the middle of the 2-3 zone — he entered Thursday averaging 3.3 blocks — but his biggest skill is his ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. When he plays the middle of that zone, when he is essentially the five for the Orange, they become incredibly difficult to matchup with defensively.

The question is whether or not he can consistently be that guy on the defensive end of the floor. Against UConn, Lydon had 16 points and 12 boards. Against Charlotte, he finished with 18 points, eight boards and six blocks. But neither the Huskies nor the 49ers have a big front line that crashes the offensive glass.

Lydon is great at using his length to make shots in the lane difficult, but at (a generous) 205 pounds, he may run into trouble against bigger, stronger front court players.

The perfect test?

Texas A&M, who the Orange will play in the title game on Friday.

USC holds on to beat No. 20 Wichita State

Andy Enfield
Associated Press
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With guards Fred VanVleet and Landry Shamet both sidelined due to injury, No. 20 Wichita State arrived at the Advocare Invitational shorthanded. But even with that being the case the highly successful Shockers represented quite the opportunity for USC, and Thursday afternoon the Trojans took advantage.

Despite turning the ball over 23 times Andy Enfield’s team found a way to win, hanging on to beat the Shockers by the final score of 72-69. Freshman forward Bennie Boatwright, a tough matchup for most teams as a 6-foot-10 stretch forward who can score from the perimeter, shot 5-for-9 from three and scored a team-high (and career-high) 22 points.

The tandem of he and junior Nikola Jovanovic, who added 14 points and 11 rebounds, outplayed the Wichita State front court on a day in which the Shockers needed greater contributions from those players. Add in 15 points and four assists from Jordan McLaughlin, ten points off the bench from Katin Reinhardt and a 12-for-23 afternoon from three, and the Trojans were able to do enough to make up for their high turnover count and Wichita State’s 24 points off of turnovers.

Given the absence of VanVleet and Shamet there’s no reason to panic regarding Wichita State. Ron Baker, who was exhausted by the end of the game due to the heavy load he was asked to shoulder, scored a game-high 25 points and the play of freshman Markis McDuffie was a positive to build on.

McDuffie, who entered Thursday’s game without a made field goal in his first two appearances as a Shocker, shot 5-for-9 from the field and contributed 14 points and three rebounds off the bench. With their current perimeter rotation being what it is McDuffie will have opportunities to contribute, and the Shockers will need him to take advantage as they await the returns of VanVleet and Shamet (and the addition of Conner Frankamp).

Doing so will not only help Wichita State in the short term but in the long-term as well, thus giving Gregg Marshall another option to call upon on his bench.

Thursday’s outcome, even with the desire to see more from Anton Grady (eight points, seven rebounds), says more about USC at this point in time than Wichita State. Enfield’s first two seasons at the helm were about amassing the talent needed to compete in the Pac-12 while also gaining valuable (and at times painful) experience. In year three the Trojans hope to take a step forward within the conference, and wins like this one provide evidence of the program’s growth.