Maryland Terps

Cowboys' Brent attends memorial with team support

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Cowboys' Brent attends memorial with team support

DALLAS (AP) Jason Garrett gave the Dallas Cowboys a day off after his players somehow pulled off a win in Cincinnati while reeling from a one-car accident that killed one teammate and landed another in jail.

Many players showed up at team headquarters anyway and there was Josh Brent, the hulking defensive tackle who missed the trip after police say he was driving drunk and caused the wreck that killed practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, his close friend and roommate.

And Brent was back with his teammates again Tuesday for a private memorial honoring Brown. Players and team officials left without talking to reporters after the hour-long service on a chilly afternoon at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, but Garrett had made it clear that Brent was still a part of the Cowboys family.

``We're going to support Josh 100 percent in every way that we can,'' Garrett said Monday, a day after the Cowboys beat the Bengals 20-19 with a field goal on the final play to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Brent arrived at the service earlier than most of the Cowboys players, team executives and staff members. He was in a van with several other people and could be seen hugging Brown's mother before walking into the building. Brent was one of the last to leave, too. He grew close to Brown during three seasons together at the University of Illinois, and took in Brown when the Cowboys added the 25-year-old to the roster in October.

``It's a really, really difficult situation for him,'' Garrett said. ``We want to make him feel that there are people around him who can help him get through this thing day by day.''

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league had ``no issues'' with Brent being at team facilities while the manslaughter case against him works its way through the courts. Pittsburgh visits Dallas on Sunday in another game with playoff implications for both teams.

Police in suburban Irving say Brent was speeding when his vehicle struck a curb and flipped early Saturday, hours before Brent was supposed to be on the team flight to Cincinnati. Brown was taken to a Dallas hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Dallas County medical examiner said he died after suffering blunt force trauma to his head and neck.

Officers who arrived at the accident scene found Brent pulling Brown from the wreck, according to an arrest affidavit. However, a woman who arrived moments after the accident said Brent didn't try to save his friend's life until she begged him.

``Jerry was alive,'' Stacee McWilliams of Irving told The Dallas Morning News. ``He was hurt. He was calling out, and his own friend walked away.''

McWilliams, a 40-year-old insurance company employee, said she was on her way home from her birthday party when she noticed the wreck and stopped. She told the newspaper Monday she could no longer talk about the case on the instruction of Irving police, and she did not respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking an interview Tuesday.

Brent's attorney, George Milner, told the AP that an investigating officer told him the woman's story didn't match the circumstances surrounding Brown's death. Milner said he was told that Brown ``wasn't talking to anyone. He wasn't moaning. He was dead.''

Milner said the woman also told police that Irving fire personnel weren't at the scene - another fact that isn't consistent with what really occurred.

``Not one person in the Irving Police Department has said one thing that is consistent'' with the woman's story, Milner said.

Police spokesman John Argumaniz declined to comment on the account, saying only that investigators are interviewing ``numerous'' witnesses.

A club where Brent and Brown reportedly spent at least part of Friday evening, Privae Dallas, has issued a statement saying it's ``deeply saddened by the events of the weekend'' and that it's cooperating with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and police.

``Privae Dallas is a club that offers its guests a special level of privacy and often caters to celebrities,'' according to the statement, attributed to the club's human resources manager. ``The safety of our guests is very important to us, and our staff is trained to follow the regulations set forth by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.''

Comedian Shawn Wayans was at the club last Friday night, and a club promoter tweeted that a dozen unnamed Cowboys players were there ordering numerous bottles of a popular champagne. In Texas, the sale of alcohol with criminal negligence to an intoxicated person is a misdemeanor punishable with a fine of as much as $500 and up to a year in jail.

The TABC, which enforces the state's liquor laws, also can suspend or cancel the license of an establishment found to have served an intoxicated customer.

TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said the agency is investigating the accident, as it does all alcohol-related fatalities that come to its attention. She said the agency has been told the players were drinking at more than one location but she declined to be specific.

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Associated Press Writer Danny Robbins in Dallas contributed to this report.

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Maryland's seven-game winning streak ends in blowout fashion to Spartans

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Maryland's seven-game winning streak ends in blowout fashion to Spartans

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Cassius Winston and Kenny Goins scored 14 points each to help No. 6 Michigan State beat No. 13 Maryland 69-55 Monday night with balanced offense and stifling defense.

The Spartans (17-2, 8-0 Big Ten) have won 12 straight this season to take sole possession of first in the conference. They have won 20 consecutive Big Ten regular season games dating to last year.

The Terrapins (16-4, 7-2) had a shot to move into first place in the conference, but couldn't extend their seven-game winning streak.

Maryland's leading scorer, Anthony Cowan, was held to a season-low seven points.

The Terrapins connected on just 34 percent of their shots against the Spartans after shooting 58 percent of in their previous game, a 14-point win at Ohio State.

Michigan State freshman Aaron Henry scored a season-high 12 points while Matt McQuaid and Xavier Tillman had 10 points apiece.

Bruno Fernando had 12 points and 13 rebounds, freshman Aaron Wiggins had a season-high 15 points and Darryl Morsell added 10 points.

The Spartans missed their first six shots then surged to an 18-6 lead while holding Maryland to 3-of-18 shooting.

Maryland started making shots to pull into 20-all tie before Michigan State closed half with an 11-0 run to lead 31-20.

Winston, who had just five points in the first half, opened the second half with a 3-pointer to put the Spartans ahead by 14. He had a three-point play a couple minutes later, giving Michigan State a 43-26 lead. Goins made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 22 with 15:28 left.

The Terrapins rallied to cut their deficit to 11 with 5:42 remaining, but couldn't get closer.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: Cowan crumbled against Michigan State's defense. He had scored 20-plus points in four straight games and was averaging 17.9 points entering the game before being held nearly 11 below his average on 3-of-12 shooting. Cowan made a shot early in the game then was held scoreless for 26-plus minutes.

Michigan State: In its only home game during a five-game stretch, the Spartans showed they can win without injured starter Joshua Langford and basically without struggling starter Nick Ward. Langford missed his sixth straight game with an ankle injury. Ward was held scoreless for the first time in his career, limited to 14 minutes at least in part because he was in foul trouble. Kyle Ahrens, who has started seven games this year, returned from a two-game absence with a back injury and made a reverse layup to help hold off Maryland in the second half.

UP NEXT

Maryland: Gives up home game to play Illinois at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Michigan State: Plays at No. 19 Iowa on Thursday night and at Purdue on Sunday afternoon.

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So the Wizards have gotten back in the playoff race and here's why

So the Wizards have gotten back in the playoff race and here's why

During the Wizards' recent 10-game surge, in which they have won seven games and vaulted back into the playoff race, there have been many reasons for their near-overnight transformation. The most dramatic change between now and the previous 36 games of this season, however, may be on the defensive end.

The Wizards, for much of this season, have been dreadful on defense. They are 23rd in the league in defensive rating (111.1) and have allowed the second-most points per game (115.8) of any team. The latter has them on pace to allow more points than any Wizards or Bullets team has since 1970.

But lately, they have flipped the narrative. In their last 10 games going back to Dec. 29, the Wizards are fourth in the NBA in defensive rating (106.4). 

On Monday, they held the Pistons to only 87 points, a season-low for a Washington opponent. That included a 34-point first half for Detroit, the fewest the Wizards have given up in a half this season.

The previous season-low for points scored in one half against the Wizards was set in their last game when the Knicks scored 37 in the second half on Thursday. That means the Wizards gave up only 71 points across four quarters, the equivalent of a full game.

The Knicks and Pistons are 23rd and 25th in scoring this season, respectively, but that remains an impressive stretch for the Wizards' defense. They are locking up opponents and coming away with victories.

"Our defense, overall, has just been better," forward Jeff Green said after the 101-87 win over the Pistons. "We’ve been communicating and not allowing teams to get a lot of offensive rebounds, forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. We’ve been on the same page defensively."

Against the Pistons, the Wizards allowed only two offensive rebounds, tying the fewest they've surrendered this season. It helped the Pistons were missing Andre Drummond, but that remains no small feat for the Wizards, who give up more offensive boards (11.7/g) than any team.

Like Green, head coach Scott Brooks mentioned the rebounds after Monday's win. 

"We give ourselves a chance to win every night if we can win the rebounding game," he said.

Indeed, the Wizards are a perfect 11-0 this season when they win the rebounding margin. In games they either lose the rebounding margin or tie, they are 9-26.

As the Wizards have shown all season, rebounding is a crucial part of defense. Forcing an opponent to miss a shot is only part of the battle. The stop is completed once the defensive rebound is reeled in.

Defense and rebounding have been major problems for the Wizards this season and both deal with effort. Because of that, Brooks and his players have often lamented a lack of want-to in the Wizards' lowest moments.

Recently, the effort has been there. It probably has something to do with the desperation of losing three key players - John Wall, Markieff Morris and Dwight Howard - to injuries. With what's left on their roster, they don't have the luxury of starting slow or losing focus in games. The margin for error is thin.

But the Wizards' improvement on defense can also be credited to a midseason roster makeover done by their front office. They changed the team's defensive DNA with guys like Trevor Ariza, Chasson Randle, and Sam Dekker. In these past 10 games, all three have posted defensive ratings under 105. They have infused the Wizards' rotation with a blue-collar approach to team defense.

Ariza, of course, deserves most of the credit. He has built a 15-year career off hard-nosed perimeter defense. 

This week, Brooks explained how Ariza's discipline has been integral in the Wizards' recent turnaround.

"Trevor definitely helps," Brooks said. "He's not going to get a stop every time, but he's going to give you great effort. He's not going to gamble a lot. He's not going to take the immature chances that might lead to a steal and a dunk in transition, but most likely it's not. He doesn't take those gambles."

Defense and the Wizards have not been synonymous for most of this season. But over the past 10 games, they have played with a new identity and it might be the key to saving their season.

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