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Jalen Smith’s double-double helps Maryland rout Notre Dame

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COLLEGE PARK, Md.  — Jalen Smith had 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds as No. 3 Maryland cruised to a 72-51 victory over Notre Dame on Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Eric Ayala scored 14 points and Aaron Wiggins added 11 for the Terrapins (9-0), who are off to their best start since winning 10 in a row to open the 1998-99 season.

John Mooney had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Notre Dame (6-2), which had won six in a row since opening the season with a loss at North Carolina.

It took some time for the Terps’ offense to get going, but their defense was sharp for nearly the entire first half. After falling behind 9-4, Maryland allowed just four points over the next 12:31.

Ayala scored seven points in a row to turn a one-point game into a 21-13 lead, and later delivered a tomahawk slam a minute before the break. Aaron Wiggins capped the half by getting the carom from his missed 3-pointer and slamming it home for a 32-20 lead.

Notre Dame never cut the deficit to less than 10 in the second half as Maryland snapped a six-game skid in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, a streak that began when the Terps were still in the ACC.

Smith recorded his fifth double-double of the season, matching his total from all of last season.

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame: The Irish missed out on the first of their three chances for a noteworthy nonconference victory this month. Notre Dame will get chances at home against UCLA (Dec. 14) and in Indianapolis against Indiana (Dec. 21) for a brand-name triumph outside the ACC.

Maryland: The evidence continues to build that the Terps are an elite defensive team. Three days after holding Marquette star Markus Howard to just six points, Maryland smothered the Fighting Irish, limiting them to 29.0 percent from the floor.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Maryland, which rose to No. 3 in this week’s poll after winning the Orlando Invitational, did nothing to dent its lofty ranking in the first of two games this week.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish begin a three-game homestand Saturday, facing Boston College in their first ACC game in more than a month.

Maryland: The Terps open conference play on Saturday at home against Illinois, the first of two league games in a span of four days.

Thursday’s Things to Know: Struggles pop up for Pac-12, Georgetown picks up a big win and a wedgie rescues Notre Dame

Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune via AP
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There weren’t any matchups between top-25 teams Thursday night, with the main November events still a week away, but there is plenty to discuss from around the country. Here’s what you need to know.

1. A rough night for the Pac-12

After a strong start to the season, the Pac-12 came back down to earth on Thursday.

The league only managed to get just three teams into the NCAA tournament in each of the last two years. But things have been pretty dire since the league expanded ahead of the 2011-12 season. That year the league’s regular-season champion, Washington, didn’t even make the tournament, though Cal (a 12 seed) and Colorado (11) did. That’s it.

Things have, admittedly, improved since then, but that was really the only direction to head, right? Only three times in the last eight years has the conference gotten more than four teams into the tournament. The Pac-12, which as a reminder is a Power 5 conference, has only been ranked as a top-five conference nationally on KenPom three times in the last eight years.

There isn’t much in the way of expectation for the league this season, certainly past the quartet of Oregon, Colorado, Arizona and Washington, but the conference started hot. Entering Thursday, they were 43-4 combined on the season. Still, though, nights like Thursday are difficult to watch.

It was an awful evening for the Pac-12, with Washington State blowing a 16-point lead at home in an eventual 85-77 loss to Omaha of the Summit League, Utah getting blasted 79-55 by the Sun Belt’s Coastal Carolina in the Myrtle Beach Classic and Cal getting demolished by top-ranked Duke, 87-52. Then to top it all off, UCLA lost at home to CAA resident Hofstra. Arizona was the bright spot of the night, and the Wildcats needed to overcome a halftime deficit to beat South Dakota State in Tucson.

Obviously, none of those four teams which lost Thursday were expected to carry the Pac-12 banner this season and 12-team leagues are going to inevitably have some bad teams every season, but, my goodness, is there a better distillation of the overall health of the league’s basketball than a night like this?

Cal was miles away from being able to compete with the Blue Devils while both the Cougars and Utes couldn’t even hang with teams from so-so mid-major conferences. UCLA is the flagship program in the conference and they lost to a Hofstra team that lost their pro to graduation this offseason. It’s a league whose best teams can compete against the country’s best, but has almost no meaningful depth beyond that thin upper crust.

The Pac-12 has had just one Final Four team since its expansion, with Oregon getting there in 2017. That ties the conference with the Missouri Valley over that same period. Some of it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the vast majority of the Pac-12 is no good, it makes building an NCAA resume for its good teams more difficult, leaving them with more difficult NCAA tournament paths. Maybe that changes this year if undefeated starts for USC, Stanford and UCLA signal an improving middle class. Thursday’s results don’t signal good times on the horizon, though.

It’s just all around ugly for the Pac-12.

It’s bad news for people who like to stay up late watching west coast basketball, but it’s really bad news for a league whose genuine tradition slides further and further into memory with each passing season.

2. Georgetown lands a top-25 win

The first two years of the Patrick Ewing era at Georgetown have been encouraging, with the Hoyas improving both their overall and Big East win totals by four in Year 2 of the Hall of Famer’s return to his alma mater. It wasn’t enough to get the Hoyas even on to the NCAA bubble last year, though, thanks in part to a horribly weak non-conference schedule.

The Hoyas beefed up their early-season schedule this season, and just saw the first fruits of the decision.

Georgetown ran away from No. 22 Texas in an 82-66 victory at Madison Square Garden to land a potentially resume-booster four months before Selection Sunday.

Ewing has an interesting and talented team with the backcourt duo of James Akinjo and Mac McClung back for sophomore seasons and big man Omer Yurtseven eligible after sitting out last season following his transfer from NC State. Testing this group early is only going to pay dividends in the long-run.

Ewing’s first non-conference schedule was ranked 351st by KenPom and last year’s was only marginally better at 292. Now, the Hoyas have already faced Penn State and Texas, with Duke on a neutral floor coming Friday with a road swing at Oklahoma State and SMU on tap before Syracuse visits D.C.

That’s a real non-conference schedule. And Ewing might have the team to navigate it, with the destination ultimately being his first NCAA tournament appearance.

3. Notre Dame rides wedgie to win

There are fewer pure facepalm moments on a basketball court than when a player lodges a shot between the rim and the backboard. The wedgie, as it’s commonly known, is one of the game’s great quirks.

Maybe never, though, has the phenomenon been as welcomed as it was in South Bend on Thursday.

The wedgie helped Notre Dame pull itself out of a tight spot.

Down three, the Fighting Irish got a great look from distance, but TJ Gibbs’ attempt missed its mark. Had it been any normal carom, the game would have just ended with a Notre Dame home loss to Toledo. But no, my friends, Gibbs’ miss was not of the standard variety. It was, indeed, a wedgie. Which means a stopped clock and a jump ball, giving the ball back to Notre Dame with a second to play.

That set up Nate Laszewski’s overtime-forcing triple as time expired in regulation. Notre Dame went on to win, 64-62, in overtime.

Truly, a rescue wedgie.

Cole Anthony stars in North Carolina debut

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As Cole Anthony took the floor Wednesday in his collegiate debut, it looked as though the potential top pick in the 2020 NBA draft was going to make a fashion statement.

Ultimately, though, the Mikan-esque corrective lenses he wore – and later ditched – weren’t what left the biggest impression of the night. It was his game.

The son of UNLV great and 11-year NBA vet Greg Anthony, the North Carolina freshman exploded for 34 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in the Tar Heels’ season-opening 76-65 win over Notre Dame to start both the season and ACC play 1-0.

It was a virtuoso performance for a player that was in the mix for being the top-rated prospect in the 2019 class, but has found himself less a part of the national conversation this preseason than his counterparts like James Wiseman at Memphis or RJ Hampton, who opted not to even play college basketball.

Anthony’s entire repertoire was on display against the Irish, who could do little to contain him all evening. He was 12 of 24 overall from the floor and 6 of 11 from 3-point range. He created for others. He got the Tar Heels going in transition with 11 defensive boards.

Simply put, he was dynamic.

The only issue for Anthony was his four turnovers, but given how much responsibility there is on him offensively to initiate the offense, get others involved and score it himself, that’s not that bad of number in 37 minutes. Especially when it’s the first 37 minutes of his career.

It was a game reminiscent of some of the breakout games we’ve seen from the best freshmen in recent years. Remember Trae Young’s 43 against Oregon two years ago or Zion Williamson’s 28 and seven in his debut against Kentucky last year? It’s not much of a leap of faith to think we’ll be talking about Anthony’s first-ever college game in that same vein.

It was a declaration of intent.

Cole Anthony is here, and he’s coming for the ACC. Along with the rest of college basketball.

He’s uniquely situated as a 6-foot-3, playmaking lead guard for a top-10 team to make a dent in college basketball. Maybe he’s not going to be the cultural phenomenon that both Young and Williamson were, but going for 34, 11 and five in your first-ever college game against a strong ACC program is a pretty good indication that Anthony is going to be awesome this season.

Honestly, it’s too bad he decided to toss the glasses he started the game wearing. Making rec specs cool might have been the true test of Anthony’s talent and appeal.

Although, there’s a notable precedence for a guy flipping of his glasses and becoming super.

Vassell leads No. 18 Florida St.’s late run past Notre Dame

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Freshman Devin Vassell scored 13 points, sparking Florida State’s second-half charge with a dunk and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions, and the 18th-ranked Seminoles held off Notre Dame 68-61 on Monday night.

Trent Forrest made 4 of 6 six free-throw attempts in the final minute to help the Seminoles (22-6, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) hang on.

D.J. Harvey scored 18 points and Prentiss Hubb had 17 for Notre Dame (13-15, 3-12), which has dropped four straight games.

The Fighting Irish went scoreless for nearly five minutes late in the game and made just one of their final 10 field-goal attempts.

Vassell shot 5 of 6 from the floor, draining all three 3-point attempts, and had seven rebounds. He scored more points than he had in 14 prior ACC games.

Christ Koumadje added 12 points, the fourth time in the last five games he has scored in double figures.

John Mooney added 14 points and eight rebounds for Notre Dame, which had won three straight in the series — none of which were played in Tallahassee. The Seminoles are 44-3 at home in the last three seasons.

Florida State had the rebounding edge, 40-26.

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish have dropped all eight games against ranked opponents this season.

Florida State: The Seminoles were sluggish most of the night but made enough big plays late to secure a seventh 10-win season in ACC play. Florida State has won a program-best 12 ACC games three times, most recently in 2016-17.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame plays at Louisville on Sunday.

Florida State hosts North Carolina State on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Blackshear powers No. 20 Virginia Tech past Notre Dame 67-59

AP Photo/Robert Franklin
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Kerry Blackshear Jr. had 22 points and 14 rebounds as No. 20 Virginia Tech defeated Notre Dame 67-59 on Saturday.

The Hokies (21-6, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), leading from the game’s first basket onward, grabbed to a 14-4 advantage over the initial eight minutes.

The Fighting Irish (13-14, 3-11), who got as close as six points on three occasions in the second half, lost their third straight game and their ninth in their last 11 outings.

T.J. Gibbs led Notre Dame with 18 points but was just 5 of 17 from the field with three 3-pointers. John Mooney added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Blackshear, hot of late, is averaging 24.7 points and 12.0 rebounds over his last three games.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 12 points for Tech.

The Hokies swarmed for as many offensive rebounds — 18 — as Notre Dame had defensive rebounds on their way to winning the glass 49-27.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies improved to 4-3 without senior point guard Justin Robinson. The ACC’s active leader in career assists is out indefinitely with a left foot injury he suffered Jan. 30 at Miami. Tech — which is 17-3 with Robinson (14.4 points ppg, 5.5 assists) — encounters two ranked opponents in its final three regular-season games.

Notre Dame: The Irish fell below .500 for just the second time in coach Mike Brey’s 19 seasons. The only other occasion occurred in 2013-14, when they slipped to 15-16 on their way to a 15-17 finish, their only non-winning season under Brey.

Guy, Hunter lead No. 4 Virginia past Notre Dame, 60-54

Guy, Hunter lead No. 4 Virginia past Notre Dame, 60-54
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Kyle Guy scored 22 points, De’Andre Hunter had 20 with 10 rebounds and No. 4 Virginia withstood a late push by Notre Dame to win 60-54 on Saturday.

Hunter scored six points during a 9-0 run for the Cavaliers (22-2, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) after the Fighting Irish closed to within 45-44 with 8:12 left.

But Notre Dame (13-12, 3-9) then went more than five minutes without a point as Hunter scored inside and hit four free throws. Guy added a 3-pointer and it was 54-44 with less than five minutes to play.

T.J. Gibbs scored 17 and D.J. Harvey had 10 for Notre Dame. Gibbs scored Notre Dame’s first 10 points and was the only Irish player to score until Harvey’s basket with 6:41 left in the first half.

Notre Dame closed to within 54-50 when Virginia went scoreless for more than four minutes after a pair of free throws by Hunter with 4:55 left. The Irish called timeout with 41 seconds left, and when Virginia inbounded the ball to Guy, Nate Laszewski stole it and scored with 34.5 seconds left, making it 54-52 and prompting a timeout by the Cavaliers. After Virginia inbounded, Guy was fouled and made both ends of a 1-and-1. A dunk by John Mooney for the Irish and two more free throws by Guy finished it off for the Cavaliers.

Virginia led just 29-25 at halftime but looked poised to pull away after a 10-3 run early in the second half gave the Cavaliers a 39-30 lead. The Irish responded with a 10-2 surge as Laszewski scored seven of the 10 points. That pulled them within 41-40 with just under 11 minutes to play and the Cavaliers never relinquished the lead, but also struggled to get much separation.

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame: The Irish nearly pulled off a stunning upset against a Virginia team that hadn’t played since Monday and shot the ball poorly. Notre Dame’s zone defense disrupted Virginia’s rhythm. The Cavaliers won 82-55 when the teams played in South Bend, Indiana, on Jan. 26.

Virginia: The Cavaliers had uncharacteristically averaged 13.5 turnovers in their past four games, but cleaned that up, at least in the first half when they had no turnovers. They did cough it up eight times in the second half and were outscored 9-1 in points off turnovers for the game.