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Ex-Maryland basketball player killed in Texas van accident

Former Maryland basketball player Cliff Tucker has been killed in a West Texas van accident that left two other passengers dead. Tucker was 29.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says the van rolled Monday on Interstate 10 near Balmorhea, 180 miles from El Paso. Investigators believe the tread on a rear tire separated and the driver lost control.

Tucker was from El Paso and played four years at Maryland, finishing in 2011. He was one of the school’s top 3-point shooters, making 35 percent of his shots from long range.

He played on NCAA Tournament teams in 2009 and 2010 under former coach Gary Williams.

“Cliff was a great teammate willing to do whatever it took to make us champions,” Williams said in a statement . “One of the great things about coaching is getting to know each player and their passion for their family, life and basketball. That’s what makes this so difficult. He touched everyone who was a part of his life.”

Tucker played in 131 games with Maryland, 12th most in the history of the program.

Perhaps his most memorable shot was a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat Georgia Tech on Feb. 20, 2010. It was the third of seven straight wins for Maryland, which went on to earn a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title.

Former teammate Greivis Vasquez wrote on Twitter : “Cliff Tucker and I had great moments. He was a great player, but even a better person. … Cliff, I will always remember that last shot against Georgia Tech. You will be missed, but I know you will always be with us.”

Another former teammate, Eric Hayes, wrote : “You were one of my favorite teammates I ever played with. I could always count on you making me laugh regardless of the situation. You will be missed dearly brother.”

Also killed were Andrew Akaji, 29, of Belleview, Florida, and Amanda Akaji, 25, of El Paso. The driver and three other passengers were hurt.

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