Bonzie Colson leads Notre Dame past Wake forest 88-81

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson and Wake Forest’s Josh Collins waged an epic battle Tuesday night, but it was Colson and the Irish who came out on top.

The forwards battled on both ends of the floor, but Colson’s 27 points and 16 rebounds helped the Irish snap a four-game losing streak with an 88-81 win, Notre Dame’s first since Jan. 15.

“It’s been awhile,” Colson said. “That’s a good feeling.”

Despite giving up five inches to Collins, Colson grabbed 11 rebounds in the second half and recorded his 15th double-double of the season. He also set a career high with five blocked shots and knocked down two second-half 3-pointers to spark an Irish comeback from nine points down.

“Unbelievable what he does only being (6-foot-5),” said Irish point guard Matt Farrell. “Against guys like that, and he’s got to do it every night, I honestly think it’s incredible what he does.”

Not to be outdone, Collins had 24 points and 14 rebounds to lead Wake Forest, his seventh straight 20-point game.

“He’s starting to understand how good he is,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said of Collins. “We thought this was one we had an opportunity to have some type of success, but we weren’t able to capitalize.”

V.J. Beachem had 19 points and a career-high four blocks (the Irish had 12 blocks total) and Steve Vasturia added 17 points and seven boards for Notre Dame (18-7, 7-5 ACC), which had lost five out of its last six and fell out of the Top 25 this week.

“We needed that, baby!” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey yelled as he entered the postgame interview room. “We haven’t won in a while, so it feels good to get a win.”

Bryant Crawford added 19 points and Keyshawn Woods had 16 for the Demon Deacons (14-10, 5-7). Collins’ run of 20-point games is the longest such streak in the ACC since North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren had 15 in a row in the 2013-14 season.

Wake Forest went up by nine after the Irish missed their first six shots of the second half, but consecutive 3-pointers by Beachem and Vasturia got them back within three.

Colson knocked down a 3 during a 10-2 Irish run four minutes later that gave them a 58-54 lead with 11:34 left.

Wake stayed close, but never led the rest of the way. Beachem, Vasturia and Farrell all hit 3s down the stretch at key moments to hold the Deacons off. Farrell finished with 16 points.

BIG PICTURE

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons failed to win consecutive ACC road games for the first time since 2008-09, and have now lost four straight to Notre Dame.

Notre Dame: On a short turnaround after their previous game at North Carolina was moved from Saturday to Sunday in Greensboro following a water crisis in Chapel Hill, the Irish managed to get back on track.

“I’m dead,” Brey said. “We used a lot of juice in Greensboro the other day.”

KEEP IT LOOSE

Looking to change things up, the Irish went to their alternate gold-and-green uniforms, which they wore during their run to the ACC tournament title in 2015, for the first time this season.

Brey also tried to keep it loose in practice for his players on Monday, but acknowledged it was just a facade.

“It was a total show,” Brey said. “I was tied up in knots inside, man, but I faked it like a son of a gun.”

FACES IN THE CROWD

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly and his new defensive coordinator, Mike Elko, took in the game from the front row. Elko was hired away from Wake Forest in December.

UP NEXT

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons welcome in North Carolina State on Saturday.

Notre Dame: The Irish host No. 14 Florida State on Saturday.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.

South Carolina fans raise money to send “Gamecock Jesus” to Final Four

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South Carolina fans are sending one of their most recognizable compatriots to represent them this weekend.

Gamecock Jesus is heading to the Final Four.

South Carolina super fan Carlton Thompson is following the Gamecocks to Glendale as his fellow fans have raised over $7,500 to send the man known as “Gamecock Jesus” to Arizona for the team’s Final Four meeting with Gonzaga on Saturday night.

Thompson’s long hair, beard and presence at South Carolina games, even in lean times, earned him his nickname and apparently a following fervent enough to foot the bill for quite the trip.

“I’ve always dreamed it would be like this,” Thompson said last week about fan support at Gamecock games to the Post and Courier. “For years and years, it was so sparse with the crowds at the games. But once they started winning, the crowds started coming.”

Thompson is a 63-year-old VA hospital nurse, and has been attending South Carolina games for nearly 50 years.

Maryland’s Melo Trimble declares for the NBA Draft

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Melo Trimble’s career as a Maryland Terrapin is coming to an end. The junior guard is declaring for the NBA Draft and will sign with an agent.

“I am confident and excited to pursue an opportunity to play in the NBA,” Trimble said in a release. “I am proud of what my teammates and I were able to accomplish these past three seasons at Maryland. I developed many great relationships and friendships and together we able to create some very special moments for Maryland basketball. I want to thank Coach Turgeon for all of his support. He always believed in me. He challenged me and really helped in the development of my overall game. I am a more complete basketball player because of Coach Turgeon and the coaching staff. To stay at home and attend the University of Maryland is the best decision that I ever made and it was truly special to play in front of my family, friends and our amazing fans. Maryland will always be home.”

There was no better winner in college basketball the last three years than Melo. He changed the trajectory of Mark Turgeon’s program, winning 79 games in three years and ending his career 30-8 in games decided by six points or less. As a junior, Trimble and the Terps earned a No. 6 seed to the NCAA tournament, but they lost in the first round to Xavier. It was the only time in Trimble’s career that he didn’t reach the Sweet 16.

“Melo Trimble is a winner,” Mark Turgeon said on twitter. “Humble, hard-working, dedicated. Words can’t express what he’s done for our program. Always #StayMelo!”