Northwestern stuns No. 25 Maryland 72-64 in Big Ten Tourney

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WASHINGTON (AP) It was a night when the crowd considered anyone wearing purple to be the enemy – even loveable actress Julia-Louis Dreyfus.

Facing No. 25 Maryland on a court that was anything but neutral, Northwestern added another milestone in an already magical season.

Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law each scored 17 points, and Northwestern pulled off a 72-64 upset Friday night to earn a berth in semifinal round of the Big Ten Tournament for the first time in school history.

Down by 10 points early in the second half, the Wildcats (23-10) took control with a 20-2 run that all but silenced an arena that earlier produced the loudest cheers of the first Big Ten Tournament held in the nation’s capital.

“With their crowd going crazy, we could have easily just said, `Oh, let’s just pack it in. Let’s just go home and hope we make the tournament,”‘ Law said. “But we’re playing for something better. We’re playing for our name and for the Big Ten Tournament title.”

Having already defeated Rutgers and No. 3 seed Maryland, Northwestern on Saturday will face second-seed Wisconsin, a 70-60 winner over Indiana.

Though this was technically considered to be a neutral court, Maryland (24-8) enjoyed many of the benefits of playing at home following a double bye to start the tournament.

Not only is the Verizon Center a mere 10 miles from the Terrapins’ home court, but Maryland previously played at this arena this season, beating Georgetown in November.

Much more significant: A vast majority of the fans in the biggest crowd of the week wore red and cheered very loudly for the Terrapins, who were in their home white uniforms.

During a timeout, the scoreboard focused on Louis-Dreyfus, whose son Charlie Hall plays for Northwestern. The crowd booed lustily.

“It’s all in fun. Good intentioned, I think,” Hall said. “Didn’t bother me too much. And we got the win, which is really the important thing, so I guess the Hall family wins in the end.”

In spite of the backing of the crowd, the proximity to their own arena and their earlier win over Northwestern, the Terps fizzled when it counted.

“We had a good crowd there. That was the best I’ve seen them all year,” Maryland guard Melo Trimble said. “Unfortunately, we lost. But we have another week to prepare for a bigger tournament.”

In spite of the loss, the Terrapins will be headed to the NCAA Tournament. So will Northwestern, which has already set a school record for wins in a season.

“I don’t really think that we realize what we’re doing right now,” Lindsey said. “I think, you know, after the season, a couple years down the road, we’ll realize what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished.”

After opening the second half with eight straight points to take a 44-34 lead, Maryland went 1 for 7 with six turnovers over an eight-minute span while being outscored 20-2. Lindsey scored seven points during the run and Bryant McIntosh contributed five points.

Maryland went nearly 6 1/2 minutes without scoring until freshman Anthony Cowan ended the drought with a 3-pointer from the right corner with 7:02 to go.

The Terrapins closed to 56-53 but simply couldn’t keep pace with the Wildcats, who outscored Maryland 38-20 over the final 16 minutes.

Trimble scored 20 points for the Terrapins, but committed six turnovers. Freshman Kevin Huerter had 19 points and Cowan added 13.

BIG PICTURE

Northwestern: The Wildcats keep surprising people and basketball teams. They’re making a strong case to receive a decent seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Maryland: A disappointing defeat leaves the Terrapins hoping the selection committee won’t treat them too rudely when drawing up the brackets Sunday night.

UP NEXT

Northwestern: The Wildcats beat Wisconsin on the road last month.

Maryland: The Terps will next play in the NCAA Tournament.

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!”