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Maryland snaps two-game skid, control Minnesota at home

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USA Today Sports

Maryland snaps two-game skid, control Minnesota at home

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Kevin Huerter scored 19 points, Anthony Cowan Jr. had a career-high 10 assists and Maryland used a strong second half to beat cold-shooting Minnesota 77-66 Thursday night.

Michal Cekovsky delivered 10 of his 17 points during an 18-2 run that gave the Terrapins a 50-34 lead against the weary Golden Gophers, who could not summon the energy to make a comeback.

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Maryland (15-6, 4-4 Big Ten) snapped a two-game skid and improved to 12-1 at home. Cowan did his part by distributing the ball and scoring all 15 of his points over the final 12 minutes.

Jordan Murphy had 19 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota, his nation-leading 19th double-double of the season. The Golden Gophers are in the middle of a stretch of three games over six days, concluding with a matchup against No. 22 Ohio State in New York on Saturday afternoon.

Minnesota (14-7, 3-5) finished 23 for 64 (36 percent) from the floor and made only three baskets in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

The Golden Gophers led 32-29 before Huerter hit a 3-pointer to spark the decisive run. The 7-foot-1 Cekovsky followed with the first of his five dunks in a span of just over 5 minutes, most of them on alley-oop passes from his guards.

With Huerter leading the way, Maryland made 10 of its first 12 field-goal tries after halftime.

In the first half, the Terrapins trailed 16-10 before Huerter scored eight points in a 13-0 run. It was 29-21 before Minnesota rattled off seven straight points to end the half.

READ MORE: BRACKETOLOGISTS ARE NOT CONSISTENT WHEN IT COMES TO MARYLAND

BIG PICTURE

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers can be forgiven for their recent slump, given that they're missing two of their best players. But they can't afford to feel sorry for themselves if they want to survive this stretch that features one home game from Jan. 15 to Feb. 3.

Maryland: The Terrapins desperately needed this victory after losing three of four. Now at .500 in the conference after beating a depleted Minnesota squad, Maryland can regroup during a stretch in which it plays just one game over the next nine days.

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4 reasons the Caps lost to the Devils

4 reasons the Caps lost to the Devils

The Capitals returned from the bye week and battled back from a 3-1 deficit to earn a well-deserved point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. Here are the reasons why Washington finished the game on the losing end.

Getting behind the defense

Three of New Jersey's four goals came on breakaways. Marcus Johansson launched Drew Stafford on a break after a bad pass from Devante Smith-Pelly was misplayed by Dmitry Orlov at the blue line. Sami Vatanen took the puck off a Devils' faceoff win and saw Miles Wood had a step on the defense. Vatanen flipped the puck over everyone's heads into open space creating a footrace that he knew Wood would win for the breakaway. The game very fittingly ended on another breakaway in overtime. The Caps lost not one, but two board battles as Vatanen tipped the puck past Dmitry Orlov on the boards up to Hall who then tipped the puck past Evgeny Kuznetsov to set himself up for the break. More on that later.

Holding their fire

Not getting enough shots has been a problem for the Caps. They rank dead last in the NHL in shots on goal per game. It's something we have talked about before. So how did they look out of the break? Just as bad. This game lasted 60:34 with 60 regulation minutes and 34 seconds in overtime. In that time, Washington managed just 19 shots on goal. New Jersey had 32. That's just not good enough. If you go one step farther and look at total shot attempts, the Caps were still outshot badly 56-44.

Power play

The power play was an absolute mess in this game. Tom Wilson drew three penalties and Washington had five total power plays and they were unable to score on any of them. They looked completely out of sync, especially on zone entries. Yes, the Capitals are returning from a bye week. They were scheduled to practice on Wednesday in New Jersey, but travel delays forced them to cancel. A certain amount of rust is to be expected. But they are too good to be a middle of the pack power play team and they are way, way too good to play as badly as they played Thursday.

Two failed board battles

We have already touched on the overtime winner that was set up by two tips off the boards. You can watch the play here.

Vatanen originally tipped the puck past Orlov who took a weird angle in his approach. It looked like he could have beaten Vatanen to the puck, but seemed to pull back. Perhaps he thought the puck was moving faster and would get to him before Vatanen could get there. Once the puck was past him, it was a race between Kuznetsov and Hall. Hall was going full speed, but similarly to Orlov, Kuznetsov seemed to pull back a bit allowing Hall to beat him to it. Either Orlov or Kuznetsov should have been able to slow the play at the very least by challenging the puck. For whatever reason, they misjudged the play and it resulted in the loss.

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