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Penn State upsets No. 4 Maryland

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Penn State used five double-figure scorers and played consistently hard on both ends of the floor as the Nittany Lions stunned previously-unbeaten No. 4 Maryland with a 76-69 Big Ten win on Tuesday night.

Losing by 30 on the road to Ohio State in their last conference game, Penn State displayed impressive intensity on the defensive end, limited turnovers on the offensive end and received plenty of help for star senior Lamar Stevens when he wasn’t having his best game. For the second straight season, Penn State upset a ranked Maryland team on its home floor as the Nittany Lions proved they’ll be a tough out at home all season.

Penn State (8-2, 1-1) received double-doubles from both Stevens (15 points, 10 rebounds) and big man Mike Watkins (15 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks) as the duo did a ton of damage on the interior. The Nittany Lions also had double-digit scoring efforts from Myreon Jones (14 points), Izaiah Brockington (14 points) and Myles Dread (10 points). With 19 assists and only eight turnovers, Penn State’s offense did an outstanding job of running clean sets and getting good looks from multiple players.

This is a quality win for the Nittany Lions early in the Big Ten portion of the schedule. It gives an unproven team a major boost of confidence — particularly beating a top-five team on a night where Stevens was only 5-for-13 from the floor. The Ohio State road loss shows Penn State still has a long way to go to be considered any kind of major threat. But Pat Chambers’ team is at least balanced and feisty enough to be a really tough out at home this season. A few more wins like this could put Penn State in the NCAA tournament picture with the kind of schedule they’ll play in the Big Ten this season.

But the major story here is the loss for Maryland. Because the Terps have some concerning trends they need to address.

Early in the season, Maryland (10-1, 1-1) has made a habit of falling behind early. It happened multiple times in an early-season tournament. And it’s now happened in back-to-back Big Ten games against Illinois and Penn State. While Maryland has been able to overcome slow starts all season with talent and comeback wins, a bad start came back to really bite them on Tuesday.

Trailing by 10 at halftime, Maryland tried to make second-half runs to stay with Penn State. Ultimately, the Terps were derailed by inconsistent offense, sloppy and careless turnovers (Penn State had 17 points off turnovers in the first half) and an inconsistent effort on the inside.

Maryland’s offense had 20 turnovers to only nine assists for the game as the Terps never seemed to figure out the proper way to run its offense. Alternating between senior Anthony Cowan Jr. (16 points) and sophomore Eric Ayala (15 points) initiating offense, both guards had too many bad passes and unforced errors for a team with Big Ten title aspirations.

It’s very clear that Maryland has the talent to compete with nearly any team in the country. Even on an off night, the Terps made this a one-possession game against a balanced Big Ten team with some veteran players. But Maryland can’t have these kinds of unforced errors if they see themselves making a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

That mainly falls on Cowan. A few of his turnovers were stunningly bad for a senior floor leader. Getting stripped 35 feet from the hoop and throwing lazy passes for interceptions and easy layups can’t happen for Cowan. There’s just too much talent on offense for Maryland to be giving away points in close games.

The good news for Maryland is that there is plenty of time to correct some of these mistakes. Cowan can limit the mistakes. The offense will likely play better and more together. But Maryland’s slow starts are a trend to keep an eye on as it has been a factor for them in multiple games this season.

Green spurs late run to send Indiana past No. 17 Florida St

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Devonte Green scored a career-high 30 points and Trayce Jackson-Davis added 15, leading undefeated Indiana past No. 17 Florida State 80-64 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.

Indiana is 8-0 for the first time since 2012-13 and has beaten three straight ranked opponents under coach Archie Miller. The previous two came last season.

Trent Forrest had 13 points as the Seminoles’ seven-game winning streak ended. M.J. Walker and Devin Vassell each scored 10 for Florida State (7-2), which is 0-5 all-time against the Hoosiers.

Indiana, which led by 15 in the first half, spent most of the second period fending off Florida State. But the Hoosiers finally took control during a late sequence when Jackson-Davis and Justin Smith each made three of four free throws and Green scored on a driving layup and 17-foot jumper. Damezi Anderson completed the 13-2 run with a 3-pointer from the corner. When it ended, the Hoosiers led 72-58 with 3:31 to go and the Seminoles never seriously challenged again.

BIG PICTURE

Florida State: The Seminoles are masters of winning ugly. But they were dreadful in the first half, getting outrebounded 17-10, going 2 of 8 on 3s and committing six turnovers. It was simply too big of a hole for Florida State to dig out of.

Indiana: At times, the Hoosiers looked downright impressive. At others, they looked as though they were still trying to find their way against the best opponent they’ve faced this season. But this was a good win and should give them momentum heading into the weekend.

STAT SHEET

Florida State: The Seminoles were outrebounded 35-25 and outscored in bench points 33-20. … Florida State came up with eight steals but was 7 of 19 on 3s. … The Seminoles hadn’t given up more than 74 points in their previous eight games this season.

Indiana: Jackson-Davis also had eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals. … Smith finished with 14 points and five rebounds. … Green was 10 of 15 from the field and 5 of 7 on 3s. … Indiana went 7 of 15 on 3s and had 18 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Florida State resumes ACC play Sunday at home against Clemson.

The Hoosiers open Big Ten play Saturday at Wisconsin.

Vernon Carey Jr., Tre Jones dominate as No. 10 Duke earns blowout road win at No. 11 Michigan State

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Duke avenged last season’s Elite Eight exit by taking down No. 11 Michigan State, 87-75, in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for an impressive non-conference road win.

A week after losing at home to Stephen F. Austin, one of college basketball’s biggest upsets of the last two decades, the No. 10 Blue Devils (8-1) clamped down on defense in the first half while establishing dominant performances from freshman big man Vernon Carey Jr. and sophomore point guard Tre Jones.

Posting his seventh consecutive double-double, Carey finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds and three blocks looking completely dominant against an overmatched Spartans interior defense. Michigan State made the decision not to double Carey on post touches and the freshman made the Spartans pay. Finishing through contact and making quick-and-decisive moves in the post, Carey simply could not be stopped — particularly when Michigan State big man Xavier Tillman wasn’t defending him.

Defensively, Carey continues to make strides while looking worlds better than he did during high school. Uncommitted to that end of the floor at times in his prep career, this version of Carey has established himself as a solid back-line defender who can erase some shots and even draw charges. Carey’s improved defense was a big reason why Duke established its early double-digit cushion and never let off the gas.

The overall performance and general consistency of Carey means he’s not only establishing himself as Duke’s go-to player, but he’s also putting his name firmly in the mix for All-American honors and potentially more. Carey still has to make strides on ball-screen defense and improve on the 57 percent free-throw shooting. It’s also nearly impossible to complain about what he just did to one of the better defensive teams in the country. Had it not been for what appeared to be second-half leg cramps (he returned to the game by the end) then Carey might have easily gone for 30.

Jones, relatively quiet in last season’s NCAA tournament matchup between the two teams, elevated his play to a new level on Tuesday as well. The sophomore finished with 20 points, 12 assists and three steals. Defensively solid as usual, particularly on Michigan State senior Cassius Winston, Jones looked like one of the nation’s best two-way point guards with the way he played in the Breslin Center. When Duke built its comfortable cushion by halftime, Jones deftly alternated between caretaker and catalyst depending on what the situation called for (that bounce pass in traffic to Vernon Carey was nasty).

This is the type of Jones game Duke fans were hoping for before this season. Scoring wasn’t necessary from Jones last season when Duke had so much offensive firepower from the trio of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. Now that Duke isn’t getting consistent early play from Matthew Hurt (10 points), and Cassius Stanley is out with a minor injury, Jones needed to step up his offensive role for Duke to beat elite teams on the road.

If Carey and Jones can play near this level every night then it makes Duke the preseason title contender everyone believed they would be before the Stephen F. Austin loss. It’s still a long season and ACC conference play has barely started. Duke getting this type of game from its stars in a bounceback road win is huge.

Playing without Stanley, who is missing time after suffering an injury in Friday’s Duke win over Winthrop, the Blue Devils have to feel much better about the performance of role players once Carey established his dominance and Jones manned the ship.

Senior Javin DeLaurier played with flashes of confidence like his former self with 10 points and six rebounds off the bench. DeLaurier and forward Jack White both gave great effort on the interior defensively by consistently falling up and making Michigan State’s guards finish over length. Sophomore Joey Baker added 11 points. On the wing, Baker has been a pleasant surprise scorer for the Blue Devils with Stanley missing from the rotation the past two games.

It was easy to get down on Duke a week ago with the loss to Stephen F. Austin. We also need to remember that Duke has already earned neutral-court wins over Kansas and Georgetown while impressively dismantling Michigan State in their building. Don’t count out Duke if Carey and Jones are rolling.

Michigan State (5-3) clearly has work to do as their brutal early-season schedule continues to make life difficult. The Spartans have now lost to Kentucky at the Champions Classic, Virginia Tech at Maui and this uninspiring effort at home against Duke.

Winston (12 points, seven assists, 4-for-14 shooting) was sluggish on Tuesday as he was harassed by Jones and thwarted by a much-improved Duke interior defense. Xavier Tillman paced Michigan State with 20 points and eight rebounds as he looked like the only consistent offensive option.

Aaron Henry was virtually a non-factor. The Spartans also struggled to 4-for-16 three-point shooting. Even if this loss was jarring, and three losses by this point in the season is unexpected for the preseason No. 1 team, there is still so much time left to play this season.

Michigan State has to address its interior defense and get more consistent help for Winston. It’s likely the Spartans will be able to pile up Big Ten wins but they haven’t shown an ability to beat top-flight opponents except for a win at Seton Hall. There’s still plenty of chances for Michigan State to earn wins over top teams. This loss just shows how far they are from a potential peak.

No. 3 Michigan State withstands Georgia despite monster Anthony Edwards second half

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Following a disappointing first-round exit from Maui to Virginia Tech the night before, No. 3 Michigan State withstood a ridiculous second-half performance from Georgia’s Anthony Edwards to claim a 93-85 consolation win at Maui.

The Spartans bounced back from the upset to the Hokies with a dominating first-half effort — putting together a 21-point halftime lead as senior point guard Cassius Winston did whatever he wanted.

Then, following a slow first half, Edwards showed why many consider him the potential No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

The freshman shooting guard pumped in 33 points in the second half — finishing with 37 overall. Edwards put up deep three-pointers, tough fadeaway jumpers (which made Bill Walton compare Edwards to Mitch Richmond on the broadcast) and generally looked like a 10-year NBA all-star for 20 blistering minutes. The Spartans lead also went from 28 down to two.

 

It looked like Maui could turn into a potential disaster for the former preseason No. 1 team.

But Michigan State deserves credit for showing resilience and taking the very best punch from perhaps the best pure scorer in college basketball and turning things around to win. Winston poured in 28 points and added eight assists while only turning the ball over twice. And although Edwards’ run was a frightening thing to deal with if you support the Spartans, Michigan State had enough responses to avoid the dreaded “1-2 — W over Chaminade” finish at Maui.

In all likelihood, Michigan State will see UCLA in the consolation title tomorrow with a chance to finish the event 2-1. Although the competition won’t be what the Spartans were hoping for, they have enough brutal games on the schedule where it’s not like they need additional Q1 games. They just need to improve closing out games if they want to remain Big Ten champions as a hunted top-five team.

Georgia’s comeback was fun. Edwards now firmly feels like the most compelling individual player to watch from a casual fan perspective in college hoops this season. But there’s still a glaring lack of consistent play from a team featuring 10 new players and relying on many younger guys.

Edwards had a hot/cold game in which he was virtually non-existent in the first half. At one point, Walton even mentioned Markelle Fultz’s name in a sentence speaking about Edwards — implying that the No. 1 hype wasn’t warranted. Then Edwards had one of the greatest stretches in the history of a storied tournament. The highs and lows within even one game need to slow down if the Bulldogs want to be a factor in the SEC.

A high-scoring game with a top player in college hoops single-handedly trying to take down a top-five team is about as good as you can ask for when it comes to afternoon consolation college hoops.

Smith, Morsell carry No. 7 Maryland past Holy Cross 95-71

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Chasing a bunch of quick, athletic players around the basketball court can be pretty tiring for a team with a half-dozen guys 6-foot-7 or taller.

Fortunately for Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, if one of his players gets weary, there’s always someone to replace him.

Taking advantage of a roster deep with height and talent, No. 7 Maryland launched a season of high hopes by defeating Holy Cross 95-71 Tuesday night.

Despite trailing early, the Terrapins forged ahead by 12 at halftime and won their 43rd consecutive home opener.

“It’s hard when we’re this big and tall to chase guys around, five guys that can shoot it,” Turgeon said. “Our depth finally got them.”

Maryland placed four players in double figures, finished with a 47-33 rebounding advantage and scored 64 points in the paint.

Jalen Smith had 16 points and 11 rebounds, Darryl Morsell scored 15, and Anthony Cowan Jr. and Eric Ayala added 12 points apiece.

The Terrapins returned seven players from a squad that went to the Sweet 16 last season and have added a pair of 6-foot-10 twins to the mix. Turgeon took full advantage, giving eight players at least 14 minutes of playing time.

“It’s nice, especially when the depth plays well,” Turgeon said. “And I think it’s just going to get better when the new guys get used to playing and get used to the speed of the college game.”

This team has a chance to be Turgeon’s best during his nine-year tenure at Maryland, but the Terps will have to prove it on the court.

Perhaps the clearest glimpse of this squad’s potential came in the final seconds of the first half. After Smith blocked a layup attempt, Cowan got hold of the loose ball and raced up court. He drove the lane and flipped the ball to Morsell, who capped the sequence with a powerful dunk.

“We played well,” said Cowan, a senior guard. “There were definitely some times where we weren’t getting enough stops or we weren’t doing the little things. But overall, I’m happy how we came out.”

Freshman guard Drew Lowder scored 24 for Holy Cross, playing its first game under coach Brett Nelson. The Crusaders took only five foul shots compared to 24 for Maryland.

“We had some moments where we were really good,” Nelson said. “I have a young group, so we’re learning. We’re going to be a lot different in January than we are in November.

“But I’ve got to give Maryland credit. They’ve got a heck of a ballclub. With the pieces they have, they’ve got a good chance to make a deep run in the tournament, for sure.”

Holy Cross trailed by just seven before Maryland went on a 16-4 run that made it 68-49. Smith and Ayala each had six points in the surge, and Cowan contributed a pair of free throws and a breakaway layup.

“This year could be a lot of fun if we just stay focused, stay selfless, keep getting better,” Turgeon said. “We’ve got a lot of talent.”

Maryland is 6-0 against Holy Cross in a series that began in 1971. The teams last met in 2008.

TOO DEEP

Perhaps one day, Nelson will be able to go nine deep on his roster. Until then, he’ll be stuck admiring teams like Maryland.

“They’re long, they’re athletic. They bring guys off the bench that are just as athletic,” Nelson said. “So from a rebounding standpoint, they really got us. And then the turnovers there in the first half led to runouts for them.”

BIG PICTURE

Holy Cross: The Crusaders look as though they will benefit from working under Nelson, who spent the previous five years on the staff at Marquette. Holy Cross ran its offense well and hustled back on defense, qualities that should be helpful when conference play begins in the Patriot League.

Maryland: The Terrapins got off to a solid start by using their height, but the outside game needs work. Maryland was 5 for 27 from beyond the arc, missing 11 of 13 in the first half.

UP NEXT

Holy Cross stays on the road, facing New Hampshire on Saturday before playing three straight at home.

Maryland hosts Rhode Island on Saturday night, the second of five straight home games to open the season. The Rams were 18-15 last season, 9-9 in the Atlantic 10.

Michigan’s Juwan Howard commits minor NCAA violation by publicly talking about recruit

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Michigan head coach Juwan Howard is still learning the ropes of college basketball.

The former NBA star and assistant coach took the Wolverines head coaching job in late May as he’s trying to figure out the subtle nuances that come with recruiting. Howard appeared to commit a secondary NCAA violation on Monday during a radio appearance on the Jim Rome Show.

In an interview with guest hosts the Sklar Brothers — known for their comedic take on sports; “Cheap Seats” is an underrated gem — Howard was asked about Michigan recruit Franz Wagner, the younger brother of former Wolverines star Moritz Wagner. Since Franz is uncommitted, and could stay overseas instead of playing college basketball, Howard speaking publicly about his future recruiting decision is technically an NCAA violation.

“Our communication has been great,” Howard said of Franz on the show. “Right now, he is making a decision if he is going to play with his national team to represent his country in the (FIBA) World Cup championship tournament. I highly recommend that he does. That’s a chance of a lifetime.

“At the end of the day, we’ve been communicating on whenever that process is over with, we’d love to have him on campus, wear a Michigan jersey just like his brother, and at some point compete for the University of Michigan and help this team in any way possible, and become a student-athlete at the university.”

The Sklar Brothers were jokingly pushing Howard to announce Franz’s potential commitment on the show as they are Michigan alums who are former classmates with the Fab Five standout. Clearly, the question-and-answer of this particular part of the segment is light-hearted and not Howard trying to give a hard pitch on the air.

Michigan will likely report a secondary violation with the NCAA — which usually results in a slap on the wrist. If anything, it’s a learning experience for Howard as he continues to figure out the NCAA’s rules.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Howard’s answer, however, is Franz’s potential decision timeline. The national team dilemma for the FIBA World Cup is an interesting one as the event doesn’t start until late August. It means that Germany, where the Wagners are from, will likely have to make some national team decisions soon before training camp begins — which could lead to a potential decision from Franz on playing at Michigan.

H/t: Dylan Burkhardt of UMHoops.com