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Arkansas eyes quick start on road at Texas A&M

Arkansas eyes quick start on road at Texas A&M

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Mike Anderson would rather forget his first go-around through the Southeastern Conference.

The Arkansas coach hopes the second time's a charm, beginning Wednesday night when the Razorbacks open SEC play at league newcomer Texas A&M.

Arkansas (9-4) lost its first six conference road games last season on its way to a 1-7 mark away from home in Anderson's first season as coach. The Razorbacks haven't fared much better so far this season, posting an 0-3 record away from home - including losses at No. 2 Michigan and neutral-court losses to Arizona State and Wisconsin.

Despite last season's struggles and the early woes this season, Arkansas is coming off a recent five-game winning streak heading into the game against the Aggies (10-3).

``I hope the carry-over is that we're playing good basketball,'' Anderson said. ``We're getting more guys involved with our basketball team; we're finding out a little bit more about who we are. The lessons we learned earlier in the year, hopefully that will pay off in an environment like Texas A&M.''

Anderson is familiar with playing in College Station, both from his time as an assistant at Arkansas while both schools were in the Southwest Conference and his most recent stint as coach of Missouri in the Big 12.

The former Nolan Richardson assistant is 0-6 against Texas A&M in his career. To end that skid, the Razorbacks - who are last in the SEC in points allowed at 70.2 per game - must improve defensively.

Arkansas has overcome its defensive shortcomings so far thanks to a league-best turnover margin. The Razorbacks have forced an average of 17.5 turnovers this season, a product of the pressing style for which Anderson is known.

``We have to take care of the ball,'' Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. ``We can't give them baskets off of turnovers and let them get their press going and playing as up-tempo as they like to play.''

Arkansas, meanwhile, wants to push the tempo as much as possible - a task that Anderson said is more difficult on the road. The Razorbacks are averaging 82.9 points per game this season, a stark contrast to the 65.2 points the more-controlled Aggies average.

``When you talk about pressing, you don't have the luxury of what takes place at home on the road,'' Anderson said.

Last season, Arkansas started quickly in its fresh start under Anderson - opening the season 15-5 and building hopes of the school's first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008. However, the Razorbacks' road woes in SEC play proved too much to overcome, and they lost nine of their final 12 games overall to miss the tournament for the fourth straight season.

Their only road conference win last season came at Auburn. That was with a 16-game schedule, a number that's been raised to 18 this season with the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri - adding yet another road obstacle for a team that has struggled mightily away from home.

``Last year, I felt like we hit a wall,'' Arkansas' leading scorer BJ Young said. ``But this year, I think we've got a lot more pieces to our team, a lot more talent.

``So, we're going to be ready to keep going throughout the season and stay strong as a team.''

Texas A&M missed out on the NCAA tournament last year for the first time since 2005, and it enters Wednesday with only eight scholarship players. With school still out for the holiday break, the Aggies are offering tickets as low as $5 in an attempt to spark the Reed Arena atmosphere.

Kennedy, for one, is counting on just that.

``Hopefully we will have a good environment,'' Kennedy said. ``Our students are here yet, but this rivalry goes back to the old Southwest Conference days. ... We will need every ounce of effort from our fans and players to win this game.''

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: What the Ramon Sessions signing means for Tomas Satoransky

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Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: What the Ramon Sessions signing means for Tomas Satoransky

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller offered their reaction to the Ramon Sessions signing and how it could affect Tomas Satoransky. Plus, how the Wizards match up with the new-look Cavs and how Kelly Oubre, Jr. broke out of his slump.

Chase also explained his epic fail with an Oubre interview and they revisited an Instagram post from months ago that foreshadowed much that has gone down this season.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Maryland reacts to latest FBI investigation reports

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USA Today Sports Images

Maryland reacts to latest FBI investigation reports

The world of college basketball has been on high alert since last fall when reports first surfaced of a long-term FBI investigation into the worst-kept secret in sports: college athletes being paid to play.

News surrounding the scandal died down after the inital wave of arrests, but Yahoo! Sports released a warning of sorts recently and followed it up on Friday by naming players (both past and present) for the first time. There were dozens of programs and players implicated, including Maryland's Diamond Stone.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon released the following statement Friday afternoon.

"Late last night we were alerted of a report associating one of our former student-athletes with an agent. We are extremely disappointed, and we will fully cooperate with any investigation. I do not have a relationship with Andy Miller or anyone from his agency, and at no time have I ever had a conversation with Andy Miller or his agency regarding any Maryland basketball player. We remain steadfast in upholding a program of integrity that reflects the values of our University community."

Stone played for the Terps during the 2015-16 season, after which he left for the NBA. That Terps team was highly-ranked entering the season but ended up losing in the Sweet 16 to top-seeded Kansas.

RELATED: DIAMOND STONE ADMITS TO 'MISTAKES' DURING FRESHMAN YEAR AT MARYLAND

Andy Miller is the agent whose financial records were used to implicate so many players in the Yahoo! Sports report. It's no surprise that Turgeon would deny having a relationship with Miller regarding any of his players, but the question remains: What does this mean for Maryland basketball?

You can be sure that Turgeon will be meeting with both past and current assistant coaches Friday to confirm they have not had any involvement with Andy Miller. He'll also certainly be meeting with higher-ups at Maryland, as they try to cover their bases. 

That said, it seems unlikely Maryland would take an action as drastic as firing Turgeon over these allegations. There has been no evidence released so far that implies Turgeon had any knowledge of Stone's actions. Barring further information coming to light, it seems as though this is a case of Stone developing a relationship with Miller's agency separately from Maryland.

Some of the more vocal members of Maryland's fan base would like to think Turgeon is on the hot seat. The truth is, given his long-term contract and the current state of Maryland's finances, it's not currently feasible to fire him and expect to afford a more accomplished coach. Though if further reports indicate Turgeon was complicit, then all bets are off.

It remains possible the NCAA will impose punishments on the schools involved with this scandal, in the form of reduced scholarships, postseason bans, or worse. But that's likely off the table until further evidence comes out regarding how much schools and coaches actually knew. It is a near-certainty that some schools were in cahoots with Miller and other agents; the problem is identifying which schools were intentionally breaking the rules, and which were simply unaware. Ultimately, however, some degree of responsibility falls on the head coach.

For now, the biggest worry on the minds of Maryland fans should be vacated wins. If Diamond Stone was ineligible, then it's possible the victories Maryland recorded during the 2015-16 season will be erased from the record books. Unfortunately, this could include their run to the Sweet 16, which was the program's first in more than a decade.

Given the expectations surrounding the team during Stone's year in College Park, his tenure could already be considered a disappointment. Losing those wins would further dampen the memories fans have from that season.

On the bright side, at least the Terps didn't have a Final Four run to lose.