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Kevin Willard, Maryland face ex-assistant Tevon Saddler, Nicholls


Last season, his first at Maryland, Kevin Willard not only took the Terrapins to the NCAA Tournament, but he also showed a knack for assembling a quality staff.

In the offseason, three members of Willard’s staff got Division I head-coaching jobs, including Tevon Saddler, who was hired by his alma mater — Nicholls.

On Tuesday night, when the Colonels play at Maryland, the 28-year-old Saddler returns to College Park, Md., as the youngest head coach in Division I.

Saddler has already made a splash. His first victory came over a major conference foe, as Nicholls (4-6) traveled about 70 miles north to LSU on Nov. 10 and stunned the Tigers 68-66.

Winning at Maryland, which has a 17-game home winning streak, would likely mean even more to Saddler, who is a native of Aberdeen, Md.

“If you know anything about the Xfinity Center, it’s a hard place to play,” Saddler said.

The Colonels’ top two scorers, Jamal West Jr. (16.7 points per game) and Byron Ireland (12.3), were prep stars at Baltimore powerhouse St. Frances, which also is where Saddler played.

“Being able to play Maryland is going to be a big deal,” Saddler said. “I’m excited for my guys and their families.”

Nicholls is coming off a nine-day break following an 84-70 win over Division II Elizabeth City. Ireland scored 25 points, West provided 17 points and nine rebounds and Robert Brown III added 16 points.

Maryland (6-4) faces the Colonels a week after dominating Alcorn State 105-65 behind a balanced attack that included six double-digit scorers, led by Julian Reese (15 points, seven rebounds) and Jahmir Young (13 points, seven assists).

Maryland, which has the worst 3-point marksmanship of any power-conference school at 25.5 percent, made 14 of 30 (46.7 percent) shots from deep against Alcorn State, with freshmen Jamie Kaiser Jr. and DeShawn Harris-Smith each hitting three 3-pointers.

“I knew it was only a matter of time until we’d start shooting the ball better,” Willard said. “Being at home, having five straight days of practice just gives these guys a little better chance to kind of find their rhythm.”

–Field Level Media

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