Friday's basketball: Coach’s ban casts shadow on LSU

By Brett Martel
Associated Press
LSU head coach Will Wade, left, and assistant coach Tony Benford, right, watch the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La. Benford has been named interim head coach after Wade was suspended amid concerns about the recruiting tactics he used to build his team.

What could go down as LSU’s most successful basketball season in about four decades has been tarnished by the suspension of coach Will Wade amid concerns about whether his recruiting tactics violated NCAA rules.

LSU Chancellor F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva announced Friday that they suspended Wade indefinitely and appointed assistant Tony Benford interim head coach.

Benford’s first game in his new role comes Saturday, when No. 10 LSU (25-5, 15-2 Southeastern Conference) hosts Vanderbilt (9-21, 0-17) with an opportunity to win at least a share of the SEC regular-season championship.

The suspension came a day after reports that an FBI wire-tap captured Wade’s telephone conversations with a person convicted last year of funneling money to the families of basketball recruits.

In a statement, Alexander and Alleva said the suspension will continue until LSU can ensure that Wade’s recruiting tactics have been in full compliance with NCAA and university policies.

“Recent media reports regarding coach Will Wade are without question concerning to all of us,” the joint statement said. “As such, we and university officials have taken deliberate and purposeful steps to fairly assess and adequately address this situation. … We are closely coordinating with the NCAA with every step.”

State men

Central Michigan 82, (at) Western Michigan 75: At University Arena in Kalamazoo, David DiLeo led Central (21-10, 10-8 MAC) with 24 points and 10 rebounds, Larry Austin Jr. had 20 points and nine assists and Shawn Roundtree scored 14. Seth Dugan had 26 points and 10 rebounds, Josh Davis scored 15 and Michael Flowers 13 for Western (8-23, 2-16).

(At) Toledo 64, Eastern Michigan 58: Jaelan Sanford and Spencer Littleson each scored 14, Marreon Jackson had 13 points and Nate Navigato 10 for Toledo (25-6, 13-5 MAC).

Paul Jackson scored 17, Elijah Minnie 15 and James Thompson IV grabbed 11 rebounds for Eastern (15-16, 9-9).

Big Ten

(At) No. 24 Maryland 69, Minnesota 60: Anthony Cowan scored 21 points, Jalen Smith had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Maryland beat Minnesota to end the regular season in feel-good fashion following a two-game skid.

Bruno Fernando had 11 points and 11 rebounds to help Maryland (22-9, 13-7 Big Ten) avoid its first three-game losing streak of the season.

The Terps were coming off a lopsided defeat at Penn State and their lone conference loss at home, versus Michigan.

Amir Coffey scored 23 points for Minnesota (19-12, 9-11).

Top 25

(At) No. 15 Virginia Tech 84, Miami 70: Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and Virginia Tech tied the school record for regular-season victories with 23.

Playing mostly at the point guard, Alexander-Walker was 6 of 14 from the floor, including three 3-pointers for the Hokies (23-7, 12-6 Atlantic Coast Conference). He tied his career high with the eight assists.

Ahmed Hill and Ty Outlaw had strong performances in their last home game for the Hokies. Outlaw scored 19 points, hitting five 3-pointers, and Hill added 17 points and connected on five 3s as well.

Ebuka Izundu and Chris Lykes had 16 points each for Miami (13-16, 5-13).

(At) No. 19 Buffalo 84, Bowling Green 73: Nick Perkins scored 22 points and Buffalo beat Bowling Green in its regular-season finale for its 26th consecutive home victory.

CJ Massinburg scored 15 points, and Jeremy Harris had 10 of his 14 points in the second half to help the Bulls (28-3, 16-2 Mid-American Conference) win their ninth straight overall following a loss at Bowling Green on Feb. 1. They broke the school records set last season for victories and conference victories, and matched No. 5 Tennessee for the nation’s longest active home streak.

Justin Turner scored 17 for Bowling Green (20-11, 12-6),