Trimble scores 17 to lead No. 22 Maryland past Rutgers 67-55

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Instead of taking medicine and resting in bed, Melo Trimble found the best cure for his illness was simply playing basketball.

Trimble fueled a second-half surge that put No. 22 Maryland in control, and the Terrapins beat Rutgers 67-55 on Tuesday night to remain in first place in the Big Ten.

Trimble was too sick to practice Monday, but he showed no sign of illness while repeatedly slicing through Rutgers’ defense. The 6-foot-3 junior guard scored 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting and had four assists and six rebounds in 34 minutes.

“I felt terrible yesterday. I felt a little better today,” Trimble said. “When you get in the game, you don’t feel sick anymore.”

After seeing how bad Trimble looked on Monday, coach Mark Turgeon wasn’t sure if his star player would be able to help Maryland strive for its fifth straight win.

“I was worried about him,” Turgeon said. “I didn’t know what we were going to get out of him. I probably played him more than I wanted to play him, but he kept saying he was fine.”

Freshman Kevin Huerter had 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Terrapins (18-2, 6-1), who own their best record after 20 games since the 1998-99 season.

“I don’t know that any of us expected this,” Turgeon said. “The exciting thing for me is we can get so much better. We can play better than we’re playing, starting with rebounding and taking care of the ball.”

Maryland was outrebounded 40-39 and committed 18 turnovers, but Trimble was the difference-maker.

Facing a team that has never won a conference game on the road, the Terrapins led only 38-35 shortly after halftime before Trimble took over. He threw an outlet pass that led to a breakaway layup, then drilled a 3-pointer from the corner. Huerter followed with a 3 to make it 46-35 – too big a deficit for Rutgers to make up.

Maryland entered the game tied with Wisconsin atop the Big Ten standings.

The Scarlet Knights (12-9, 1-7) went 10 for 24 at the free throw line in losing for the eighth time in nine games. Rutgers hasn’t beaten a ranked team since 2008.

Coach Steve Pikiell liked seeing his team grab 22 offensive rebounds and score 32 points in the paint, but lamented the missed foul shots by his big men.

“If you’re not converting those free throws you can go inside all you want,” Pikiell said. “You’ve got to take advantage of the freebies.”

Despite the loss, the Scarlet Knights put up a decent fight. Down by 16 with 12 minutes left, they cut the gap to nine with 5:24 to go but didn’t have enough firepower to complete the comeback.

Corey Sanders scored 15 points for Rutgers and Nigel Johnson had 14.

Trimble and L.G. Gill each made a 3-pointer in the final 55 seconds of the first half to give the Terrapins a 34-29 lead.

Rutgers trailed 18-11 before Johnson drilled a 3-pointer to spark a 9-1 run that forced Turgeon to call a timeout. Minutes later, Sanders connected from beyond the arc to give the Scarlet Knights their largest lead, 25-22.

BIG PICTURE

Rutgers: Though they hung tough for most of the first half, the Scarlet Knights aren’t good enough yet to beat a Big Ten team on the road – let alone a ranked foe that plays exceptionally well on its own court.

Maryland: Defeating Rutgers at home isn’t exactly a noteworthy accomplishment, but in doing so the Terrapins enhanced their stature as a Top 25 team that’s one of the best in the Big Ten.

FOUL PLAY

It surely would have been a closer game if the Scarlet Knights were better at the line.

“It hurts,” Sanders said. “We need to make free throws. Nobody is guarding you; you just have to will it in.”

Maryland took fewer free throws (19) – a rarity for the Terps at home – but made 13.

UP NEXT

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights face another ranked team, No. 15 Wisconsin, on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Maryland: The Terps put their perfect road record on the line Saturday at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers upset visiting Maryland last February.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

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The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.

Michigan returns Mo Wagner, loses D.J. Wilson

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The best-case scenario did not take place for Michigan this week.

The Wolverines waited for four weeks to hear back from their pair of mobile big men, and the news on Mo Wagner was positive. The 6-foot-10 junior from Germany announced on Wednesday that he will return to school after testing the NBA Draft waters.

The news was not as fortunate with D.J. Wilson, who announced less than ten hours before the deadline that he will be signing with an agent and turning pro. Wilson is projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

Without Wilson in the fold, Michigan lacks some front court depth, which will probably be enough to keep them out of the preseason top 25.

Gonzaga to return Johnathan Williams III

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Losing Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins to the professional ranks probably torpedoed Gonzaga’s chance of making another run to the NCAA tournament national title game, but after Johnathan Williams III announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to school and withdrawing from the NBA Draft, Gonzaga does appear to be a favorite to win the WCC title again.

Williams is now Gonzaga’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, anchoring a front court that also loses Przemek Karnowski to graduation. He was expected to go undrafted.

With Williams back in the fold, the Zags should be right there with Saint Mary’s in the race for the WCC title. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Killian Tillie all return as well.

ESPN was the first to report the news.

Injured Gamecocks point guard Blanton gives up basketball

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina guard TeMarcus Blanton is giving up basketball after struggling with a serious hip injury he suffered before his freshman season.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin says Blanton told him he could not get his body to respond to a level that would allow him to continue playing basketball. Blanton is a 6-foot-5 junior from Locust Grove, Georgia, who hurt his hip during preseason for the 2014-15 season. He needed surgery and could not return to the court until his sophomore year.

Blanton played in 29 games, averaging 1.4 points a game.

He said on social media he is grateful to his coaches, teammates and South Carolina fans, “but my journey of basketball has come to an end.”

Blanton received a medical exemption from the Southeastern Conference to remain part of the Gamecocks’ program moving forward.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley to remain NBA Draft

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For the first time in a decade and just the third time in 14 seasons as UNC’s head coach, Roy Williams has a one-and-done player.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley will sign with an agent and remain in the NBA Draft.

Bradley had an impressive freshman season, averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 boards in less than 15 minutes per game as the sixth-man for the national title-winning Tar Heels. He initially declared for the draft without signing with an agent, testing the waters, and the feedback was positive: He’ll likely be a late first round or early second round pick.

As the process dragged on, it became fairly evident that Bradley would keep his name in the draft, and that is a massive blow for a UNC team that is already losing Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks, not to mention Justin Jackson.

As it stands, Roy Williams will likely start the following lineup next season: Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams and Theo Pinson on the perimeter with Luke Maye and either Brandon Huffman or Garrison Brooks, both freshmen, alongside him. Williams is one of the few coaches left in the sport that still relies on playing two bigs and utilizing an overwhelming front court to win games, and that is not going to be an easy thing to do with that group of bigs.

UNC’s perimeter is strong. Berry will likely be a preseason all-american while Pinson and Williams are both above average role players on the wings.

But without that hoss in the paint — Bradley, like Berry, would have popped up on preseason all-american teams — the Tar Heels are going to have a tough time making a run at an ACC title, let alone a third straight trip to the national title game.

North Carolina is currently ranked 18th in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.