NCAA

Maryland ready to return to big time college basketball

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Maryland ready to return to big time college basketball

After a brief hiatus the Maryland Terrapins mark their return to big-time college basketball with a nationally televised tilt against the reigning national champion Kentucky Wildcats on Friday night from the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York. The game will be played on national television in a sold out NBA arena where 31 NBA scouts and executives have been credentialed for the game.

To some degree, the Terps are already winners by virtue of being in this game. It was not that long ago where games like this were commonplace for the Maryland program. But in an era of instant media and shortened memories, those games seem like ancient history. This game came about when Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari called Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon the day he took the job in College Park eighteen months ago and offered the opportunity. Calipari and Turgeon are long-time friends dating back to their days in Lawrence, Kansas in the early 1980's.

The Maryland coach was quick to seize the chance for his team to play in this spotlight game last year but he had to worry if his team- and his program- would be ready for a game like this against arguably college basketball's premier program.

As circumstances and good fortune have it, the Terps enter this game not only excited about the opportunity, they actually have more than a puncher's chance of competing with–and defeating–the Wildcats.

Since the day he took charge of the Maryland program, Turgeon has combined good fortune (inheriting center Alex Len from the previous staff's recruiting efforts) with hard work on the recruiting trail to completely retool the program he inherited. The hard work on the recruiting trail paid immediate dividends and the Terps will have six new players who will all be in Turgeon's ten-man rotation on Friday night.

In addition, if there is a good time to play a team as talented as Kentucky, early November may very well be that time. The exodus of NBA draft picks from Lexington after Kentucky's championship run last year has been well documented. Just as well documented is the profile of Calipari's incoming freshman class. If you need any primer on Kentucky talent and star power, just tune into ESPN's omnipresent “Kentucky All-Access” that seems to be on fourteen times a day.

In spite of the talent that left, nobody is going to feel sorry for Kentucky.

There is no way to predict how a young team will fare in the spotlight of a big early game like this and both the Terps and the Wildcats are exceptionally young and–for the most part–unproven.

Assuming both teams are ready to play and put forth the kind of efforts that both Turgeon and Calipari expect, this game could come down to a handful of different boxes that the Terps will have to check to come out of New York with a win.

In an early game like this between two uber-athletic teams, often time the game comes down to who scores the most easy points. If Maryland is able to limit easy Wildcat baskets in transition and keep the Kentucky size off of the backboards it will go a long way to insure a positive outcome. Considering all of the new talent on Kentucky's roster, a central part of the Maryland game plan almost certainly hinges on forcing the Wildcats to grind out baskets in their half court offense.

That said, the Terps have their own challenges in the same area and Calipari will look to limit Len around the basket and Terrapin wings Dez Wells and Nick Faust in the open court.

With both coaches looking to accomplish similar things, this game will probably not be aesthetically pleasing. Expect a game where shooting 40% from the field feels torrid.

With both teams grinding it out in the half court then things like foul trouble, turnovers and free throw shooting become paramount. Expect Turgeon to play ten men in the game and shorten his bench a bit down the stretch. Conversely, Kentucky will play up to eight players. But just because you use more players it doesn't mean you're deeper unless you're getting quality play from your bench.

Both teams enter the game with questions about their respective point guards. Maryland's Pe'Shon Howard will try and rebound from an injury riddled sophomore season and will be greatly aided by the presence of freshman Seth Allen. Howard is more pass oriented than Allen is right now but the presence of both offers Turgeon a luxury he simply did not have last season. Regardless of which one gets the bulk of the minutes, the Maryland point guards will have to handle the ball in the face of an impressive Kentucky defense.

Maryland fans last saw Kentucky point guard Ryan Harrow when he was wearing a North Carolina State jersey two years ago. After sitting out his transfer year last season, Harrow has inherited the point and will ask to provide his young team with experience, stability and direction. Even as talented as he is, that is an awful lot to ask a player after a year away from competition. He will have to deal with an equally impressive Maryland defense.

The Terps received a huge break leading into the game with the NCAA's decision to grant Maryland's appeal to grant Wells immediate eligibility. Not only is he clearly one of his team's best players he offers up big game experience where it is in short supply on both sides. He will also help his team that – in the early going at least- is in need of a regular scoring threat from the wing to compliment Faust and freshman Jake Layman.

The humble and self-effacing Turgeon would probably never admit to it but a fascinating subplot will be his matchup with Calipari. Turgeon is an interesting mix of old school and new school. He is part player's coach and part “my way or the highway.” The slicker than slick Calipari is just now getting credit for the coach that he is. Say what you want about the issues that have surrounded some of the programs he left he is both a savvy marketer and a completely underrated in-game coach. His team went 38-2 last season when they were everybody's biggest game.

When this game was announced a year ago most people looked at it like it was an Opportunity Game. Meaning that it was an opportunity to play a spotlight game in the Big Apple and have a place close enough for Terrapin Nation to gather and watch their team against the kind of program they aspire to be.

Now, because of events of the past 12 months, the “opportunity” has taken on a completely different meaning. Now it's an opportunity to beat the sport's standard bearer and announce your return to the highest level of college basketball.

Game on.

King accounts for 3 TDs, leads Houston past Navy, 24-14

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King accounts for 3 TDs, leads Houston past Navy, 24-14

HOUSTON  -- Houston's defense slowed Navy in the second half, and the offense carried the momentum from there.

D'Eriq King threw for 277 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores to lead Houston to a 24-14 win over Navy on Friday.

King completed 21 of 27 passes and found Steven Dunbar for a 61-yard touchdown pass to give the Cougars (7-4, 5-3 American) a 21-14 lead with 14 minutes left in the game. King hit Dunbar in stride along the right sideline, and Dunbar broke one tackle at the Navy 40 and went untouched from there for the score.

"The defense played great all day," King said. "We got momentum off the defense. We saw those guys make plays, and we wanted to help them by making plays ourselves."

Houston's defense shut Navy out in the second half and held the Midshipmen to 79 yards and six first downs.

"It was tackle or dive there to get what you can get," Ed Oliver, who finished with a career-high 14 tackles and 3 tackles for a loss, said. "We stopped the dive. We were really locked in on our assignments, and we shut it down."

The 14 points was a season low for Navy.

"Consistent four quarters, consistent play," Houston coach Major Applewhite said. "For us to be able to create that many stops and punt opportunities is tremendous."

Dunbar finished with 142 yards receiving on eight catches.

King, who started his third straight game, rushed for 57 yards and scored on runs of 9 and 2 yards, with the second tying it at 14 with 3:27 left in the third and capping a 14-play, 90-yard drive. Caden Novikoff tacked on a 35-yard field goal with 7:57 remaining to up the lead to 24-14.

"We made plays in the passing game," Applewhite said. "Quarterback made some runs. Duke (Catalon) ran the ball well. We played like we could play."

Malcolm Perry rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, and Anthony Gargiulo added 71 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries to lead Navy (6-5, 4-4), which lost its fifth in the last six games. The Midshipmen outrushed Houston 217-103, but had 167 yards rushing at the half.

"Obviously, a disappointing loss," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "We left some points out there in the first half that came back to bite us."

Perry tied it 7-7 with a 12-yard touchdown run with 13:42 left in the second, and Gargiulo gave the Midshipmen a 14-7 lead with six minutes remaining in the first half.

"Houston played well defensively," Niumatalolo said. "We just can't sustain ourselves. It's kind of the story of our season. We can't put stuff together consistently. Obviously, Houston knew that. They kept their safeties back to see if we could grind it out and we couldn't. We couldn't execute the whole way downfield."

Linell Bonner finished with eight catches for 98 yards for Houston, which won its third out of the last four games. Houston outgained Navy 380-291.

DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: Get prepared for feast week

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DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: Get prepared for feast week

Nearly half of the teams in the Mid-Atlantic played another Mid-Atlantic team. Early on, head-to-heads are a quick indicator into who holds strong in NBC Sports Washington’s Power Rankings. However, as the season goes on head-to-head wins do not always tell the full story.

The showcase game of this crew was the battle for the state of Virginia hoops on Friday night. The Virginia Cavaliers traveled to VCU and gutted out a tough non-conference victory, forcing the Rams to 12 turnovers.

With a win over a fellow top five team, it solidifies Virginia’s positioning as the No. 2 team in the rankings. By far and away the Terrapins and Cavaliers are above the other teams in the Mid-Atlantic.

Continuing with the rivalry trend... Towson traveled to Loyola, Georgetown hosted both Mount St. Mary’s and Maryland-Eastern Shore, Hampton went to William & Mary, and that is just to name a few.

So yeah, a lot of DMV schools playing each other.

Also it is feast week so a lot of opportunities to catch these teams in action on television.

RELATED: 10 LOCAL PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON THIS YEAR

These rankings are based on scores as of Monday, November 20. All 29 Division I schools in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware are included in this rankings.

1. Maryland Terrapins (Big Ten):
Record: 5-0
Last Week: #1 (+0)

Maryland may have one of the most complete teams in the NCAA. On Wednesday the Terps faced their toughest competition of the season this far, perhaps their biggest test of non-conference play: Butler.

Maryland held the Bulldogs to a five to ten point advantage for a majority of the contest and put it away with free throws late. Anthony Cowan Jr. had a career-high in points (25) and rebounds (10) to go along with five assists as they went on to win shooting 57 percent from the field.

The bigger scare was what the Bucknell Bison gave Maryland on Saturday evening. Fortunately freshman Bruno Fernando broke out with 14 points and nine rebounds and the Terps held on by two points.

Now Maryland leaves the friendly confines of the XFINITY Center for the first time all season. They play St. Bonaventure and either TCU or New Mexico in the Emerald Coast Classic. They follow that up with Syracuse in the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge on Monday.

2. Virginia Cavaliers (ACC):
Record: 4-0
Last Week: #2 (+0)

Here is the offense that Virginia was waiting for and desperately needed. Kyle Guy sparked the Cavaliers to a bragging rights win over VCU on Friday. Scoring 29 points, Guy hit five three pointers including one to put the game on ice in the final minute.

Almost as important, redshirt freshman De’Andre Hunter then scored 23 on Sunday against Monmouth. Guy and Devon Hall are both averaging double figures and together they can do just enough for Virginia this year.

In their past three games they have scored 73+ points, well above their average from 2016-17 season. They will need it with the NIT Season Tip-off coming up this week.

3. VCU Rams (A-10):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #3 (+0)

This week the Rams got exposed in two huge games that may hurt their NCAA tournament at-large hopes.

First, they are not a run-and-gun team as seen in their loss against Marquette. Also defensively they are not your older brother’s VCU, seen against Virginia.

The good thing they can hang their hat on is that even though it appeared they were getting rolled, they kept both games close. Despite Virginia being in control, VCU had a couple of chances to take the lead before Kyle Guy’s monster three. In the Jim Maui Invitational against Marquette, Jonathan Williams and Justin Tillman struggled, yet they were always two or three possessions away.

It is still early in the season and there are still plenty of chances for VCU to prove themselves going forward. They continue in the Maui Invitational this week with California and another quality opponent.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC):
Record: 3-1
Last Week: #4 (+0)

A season ago, a loss to the Billikins would have been detrimental to the Hokies RPI. This year not so much after Travis Ford has led a tremendous turnaround for the program.

Responding with a blowout win over Washington in the 2K Classic this won’t hurt them too much on the long run as long as Saint Louis lives up to preseason expectations.

But still, Virginia Tech has scored 100+ points over three teams this season, and now one over a Power 5 conference opponent.

Freshman Nickeil Alexander-Walker still is on fire and averaging 19.3 points through is first four collegiate games ever. Joined by Justin Bibbs (22.5 ppg), Ahmed Hill (22.0) and others, there are five Hokies in averaging double figures.

5. George Mason Patriots (A-10):
Record: 3-1
Last Week: #5 (+0)

Patriots continue to squeak out wins at home. Not ideal for a team trying to prove themselves by barely beating three teams that finished worse than 300 in the RPI last year.

Still, wins are wins and they are finally getting production from their bench, which is a game changer. On Saturday evening redshirt freshman A.J. Wilson put up eight blocks in only 22 minutes off of the bench.

At 3-1 George Mason should be fortunate, but they have proven they can play up to competition. This week the team travels to the Cancun Challenge facing Louisiana Tech and an opponent TBD.

There is another freshman, Goanar Mar who leads the Patriots with 14.3 points per game. Before long he will not be a name that you will easily recognize.

6. Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA):
Record: 4-1
Last Week: #6 (+8)

The Monarchs knew they could have topped Temple in their first round of the Charleston Classic, but they rebounded nicely with wins over Indiana State and Dayton.

Dayton of course being the real upset.

Old Dominion now has multiple scorers, some on the outside and some on the inside. This team has developed to a strong defensive force and is doing what they need to do on offense to win games. Just Ahmad Caver (38.4 minutes per game) needs to get some rest before he gets injured.

Watch out George Mason, because your former rivals are now knocking on the door to be a top five team in the Mid-Atlantic.

7. Towson Tigers (CAA):
Record: 3-1
Last Week: #7 (+0)

Three straight wins for the Tigers as they are in the heat of their preseason tournament, the Florida Gulf Coast Showcase.

Beating a fellow DMV school by 20 points, Towson dismantled Loyola on the road. Senior guard Brian Starr was perfect from the field (7-7), finishing with a career-high 21 points. As a team they shot an outstanding 62 percent from the field and 50 from behind the arc. With shooting nights like that, and five players reaching double figures, they can be in any contest.

Still waiting on Mike Morsell to come back to form, but right now it is not necessary. The Florida Gulf Coast Classic continues this week for Towson then they host St. Mary’s College of Maryland on Monday.

8. Georgetown Hoyas (Big East):
Record: 3-0
Last Week: #10 (+2)

Two blowout wins but both against opponents that Georgetown should have never been worried about. They also happened to be against two other teams in this list, Mount St. Mary’s and Maryland-Eastern Shore.

Jessie Govan has been tearing up these smaller programs throughout the year. Every single game he was scored at least 20 points and brought down 10 or more rebounds. No surprise, but he is on an incredible pace to start the season with 21 points, 14 boards per game.

Not too much to brag about, but either way it will go down as a 3-0 start for Patrick Ewing’s coaching tenure with the Hoyas. With other teams struggling on the onset, it leaves Georgetown to climb up the rankings.

They continue their locality-based schedule with the Richmond Spiders being their only opponent this week, no preseason tournament for the Hoyas this year.

9. Liberty Flames (Big South):
Record: 3-2
Last Week: #12 (+3)

Man once last week started, it was time to go all-in on the Flames. A double-digit win over Wake Forest on the road gave the signs that this team had arrived early on their expectations.

Then they lost to Mercer (a good team) by 15 at home and then dropped a close one to Houston.

Although they rebounded nicely with a win hosting Quinnipiac, they missed a golden opportunity to claim their stake as one of the newest mid-major forces on the block. Nevertheless they break into the top ten in the Mid-Atlantic rankings for the first time this season.

They are getting it done with production all around the court. While they will need a playmaker in their non-conference stretch, they look good in all aspects of the game.

10. UMBC Retrievers (A-East):
Record: 1-3
Last Week: #8 (-2)

The Colgate road loss really hurts this team that was looking to make a jump this year. Now, only a week and a half into the season, the Retrievers are going to be all-in on the America East title to get into the NCAA Tournament.

Although it has been a rough start, but respectable scores against good schools, Central Penn is their only win at this point.

Returning to the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, there are two must wins on the horizon this week against Chicago State and Presbyterian or Nicholls State.

READ ALSO: LAST WEEK'S PRESEASON RANKINGS

11. George Washington Colonials (A-10):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #9 (-2)

George Washington was never in their road match-up against Florida State. Then they barely beat Hampton at home, but followed up that scary win with a home loss to Rider… Back-to-back home games against two schools near the middle of their single-bid conferences and they put up only 65 in both of them.

Part of this is no threat from deep. As a team they are only 26 percent from behind the arc this year and only Jair Bloden (11-30 from 3pt) has more than four three pointers on the year. Yuta Watanabe has not developed into the sole provider for this offense and either needs to pick it up or find some help down the roster.

Dropping out of the top ten in these rankings, the Colonials have opportunities for redemption in the Las Vegas Invitational. Coming back home with one win over Xavier, Kansas State, or Arizona State could go a long way.

12. Richmond Spiders (A-10):
Record: 1-2
Last Week: #16 (+4)

A much needed win for the Spiders over the University of Alabama-Birmingham in the Cayman Islands. It was also another breakout game for a young player in the DMV. Redshirt freshman Grant Golden, who graduated from St. James in Maryland, scored 26 points and had seven rebounds.

Tough match-ups up ahead against No. 12 Cincinnati and either Wyoming or LA-Lafayette but definitely some redemption this week for the Spiders.

Oh and then they have Georgetown in the Robbins Center on Saturday. That could be fun.

Khwan Fore is getting closer to a return, but they are a much different team without him.

13. Morgan State Bears (MEAC):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #11 (-2)

Morgan State hung on to beat a Division III Lincoln (PA) team and then got blown out at No. 24 West Virginia, although that was going to be a given.

Still waiting for Phillip Carr to get to mid-season form shooting the ball, he has found his grove in other areas of the court. With him struggling though it has led to many empty possessions and inflated some of their offensive rebounds to start the season.

Up next the team will have plenty of winnable games and games that will show how they actually stack. First Goldey-Beacom, a Division II school Is heading to Baltimore, then they have fellow Maryland school, Mount St. Mary’s.

14. Navy Midshipmen (Patriot):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #13 (-1)

Beating Pittsburgh seemed like such a long time ago for the Midshipmen. And now everyone knows that the Panthers were just not that good. The Midshipmen lost to Penn on the road and took over in the second half to beat Bryant.

They are yet another balanced team with strong starters and a decent bench, but they need to win some tough games.

15. William & Mary Tribe (CAA):
Record: 1-2
Last Week: #18 (+3)

Bragging rights over The Peninsula in southeast Virginia went to the Tribe after they defeated the Hampton Pirates at Kaplan Arena.

It wasn’t until late, but a 10-0 run and 31 points put up by Nathan Knight gave William & Mary their first of the season.  He is bringing in 20 points and 9.7 rebounds a night for the Tribe as they are slowly overcoming early season struggles.

They now look from bragging rights across Hampton Roads, hosting Old Dominion on Saturday.

16. Delaware Blue Hens (CAA):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #14 (-2)

Delaware relies entirely inside the paint, whether its scoring or controlling possession, that is where the Blue Hens win.

It will get Delaware easy wins over lesser competition, but it will make it easy for mid to upper mid-majors and for CAA rivals once conference play starts. As of Tuesday morning, they only have made 14 three pointers total on the year. Thirty-one players in the NCAA have already scored the same or more individually.

But in the paint, they dominate; against Wesley College they had 72 of their 93 points in the interior.

They continue their week at the UNCG Spartan Classic with North Carolina Wesleyan and Longwood.

17. Hampton Pirates (MEAC):
Record: 1-4
Last Week: #17 (+0)

It was a big week for the Hampton Pirates. Not the team but the department announced that Hampton is moving from the MEAC to the Big South. This is only the second HBCU to move out of the MEAC or the SWAC.

Other than that they lost to William & Mary and George Washington in close match-ups. Then No. 15 Xavier trounced them on Monday night. Hampton continues to fall down the rankings without a Division I win.

They are one of the few lower conference teams on this list to be traveling to a preseason tournament. The Las Vegas Classic is this week, and yes they could end up player Rider once again. 

18. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (NEC):
Record: 1-3
Last Week: #19 (+1)

The Mount keeps racking in the buy-in games, losing to No. 14 Notre Dame and Georgetown. They did however get their first win of the season over North Florida by scoring 84 in regulation.

They finally have some offense that is not just Junior Robinson, but now need some of their freshmen to start rebounding and doing other things on the court.

19. Radford (Big South):
Record: 2-1
Last Week: #21 (+2)

An all-around effort against East Carolina gave the Highlanders their first Division I victory on the season. Off the bench Ed Polite Jr. led all scorers with 17 points, highlighting 46 from the reserves. There was also a concerted effort to get to the free throw line forcing 34 attempts, although they would only make 23 of them.

20. Loyola Greyhounds (Patriot):
Record: 0-3
Last Week: #15 (-5)

A four-point loss to ranked Northwestern on opening night doesn’t look the same anymore. Also this Loyola team doesn’t look the same either.

The Greyhounds followed it up with a loss to Fairfield from the MAAC, where the team only mustered 52 points, 27 of those coming from senior Andre Walker. They then dropped a contest to in-state rival Towson, where the Tigers could not be stopped, hitting 62 percent from the field.

The hype was real for a day, but now it is back to Earth for Loyola and back to where they started the season in the rankings.

21. James Madison Dukes (CAA):
Record: 1-4
Last Week: #20 (-1)

Three straight losses from Northern Kentucky, Weber State, and UTSA at the Islands of Bahamas Showcase have the Dukes still searching for their first Division I win of the season. No easy schedule for them either with Appalachian State and Radford (their best chance for a win in a while) this week.

22. Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC):
Record: 0-4
Last Week: #22 (+0)

The Spartans cannot wait for Zaynah Robinson to come back in 2017. With him, once can easily make the argument that this is a 3-1 or 2-2 basketball team. Now they are winless still battling in the Grand Canyon Classic.

23. American Eagles (Patriot):
Record: 0-3
Last Week: #23 (+0)

No one can deny losing to Wagner by one point is a heartbreaker for any American fan. A much needed return to Bender Arena against VMI on Saturday.

24. Howard Bison (MEAC):
Record: 0-5
Last Week: #24 (+0)

While the record is not there, the Bison are remaining close in all of their early season games. That is if you exclude they 106-69 loss to No. 17 Gonzaga. They are not necessarily bad teams either as three of their other losses were by 10 points or less.

25. VMI Keydets (SoCon):
Record: 1-2
Last Week: #29 (+4)

The Keydets are in the win column and they did so by beating Presbyterian by 20 points. Junior Austin Vereen had his best offensive output of his career with 22 points on 7-9 shooting. He also added another career-high in rebounds (six). They should win more games than they did last year (6), but now have American on the horizon.

26. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (MEAC):
Record: 1-3
Last Week: #25 (-1)

It is 2017, yet we still have games being postponed because venues cannot keep the lights on. Maybe St. Bonaventure should have called Motel 6? Game was made up on 11/20 and the result was probably what it would have been just a week ago.

The Hawks are still in the Emerald Coast Classic on their own half of the bracket where they could chalk-up a win or two before returning home.

27. Longwood Lancers (Big South):
Record: 0-3
Last Week: #26 (-1)

Longwood is still trending in the wrong direction after losing to Stephen F. Austin by only 13 on opening weekend. Now a 10 point loss to Columbia and 27 point loss to Saint Francis (PA). They now head to Greensboro, North Carolina for the UNCG Tournament.

28. Delaware State Hornets (MEAC):
Record: 1-4
Last Week: #27 (+0)

Probably didn’t expect the Hornets to get a win on their four-game road trip at the beginning of the season. In all four games they have allowed 80+ points and lost by 20+ points in three of them.

29. Coppin State (MEAC):
Record: 0-5
Last Week: #28 (+0)

The most points Coppin State has scored this season is 56 and that was in a 24-point loss to Cleveland State. They also only scored 39 against Rutgers two days later.