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How Layman continues to show his critical importance for Maryland

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How Layman continues to show his critical importance for Maryland

It’s almost impossible to put up 100 points on a team and then go to their place and end up running them out of the gym again. It just doesn’t happen, especially when the opposition is coached by a guy like Thad Matta.

So Maryland faced a locked-in, motivated Ohio State team on Sunday in Columbus, but they pushed back en route to a 66-61 victory over the Buckeyes.

One of the main reasons? Another strong game from senior forward Jake Layman, who went for a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds while also being an agitator on the defensive end of the floor.

Layman is becoming an important barometer for Maryland, especially defensively.

Think of it like this. Within Maryland’s starting five, they have two dynamic duos -- one in the backcourt with Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon and one in the frontcourt with Robert Carter, Jr. and Diamond Stone.

But someone needs to bring those pieces together -- a glue guy. That’s Jake Layman and the ability to do that comes from his versatility on both ends of the floor.

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Offensively, he can take you down into the post to score or step out and hit a jumper. Defensively, he can hold his own on the block or do what he did against Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff and get stuck with the opposition’s best player and help to shut him down.

That is proving to be especially helpful as we fully understand the implications of Dion Wiley’s season-ending injury. Playing small ball is less feasible simply because of the minutes distribution, but Layman’s versatility helps to make at least some of it possible.

The progression from early in his career at Maryland to now is staggering.

He now posts a 93.5 defensive rating per 100 possessions, well down from his 100.1 mark that he posted as a sophomore. At the same time, for as much criticism as he has taken, his offensive rating has risen to 116 this year -- the highest of his career.

You can thank his 59.8 percent two-point percentage for that as he has diversified his game after being forced into a role as a power forward last season.

Layman is the type of player who helps to decide whether Maryland is Sweet 16-good or Final Four-good. He has matured to the point where he knows he can affect the game in ways other than just scoring the ball.

If he making an impact all over the floor, that is another step toward what looks like a very, very high March ceiling for Maryland.

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Palmer's big 2nd half lifts Huskers past Maryland

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Palmer's big 2nd half lifts Huskers past Maryland

LINCOLN, Neb. -- James Palmer Jr. scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half, Isaiah Roby had all 11 of his after half, and Nebraska held off Maryland 70-66 on Tuesday night.

Palmer and Roby combined for 35 of the Cornhuskers' 40 second-half points, and they secured their first 20-win season since 2008. They won a sixth straight conference game for the first time in 20 years.

Palmer scored 15 straight points for the Huskers (20-8, 11-4 Big Ten) over a 10-minute span that ended when Roby hit one of two free throws with 2:57 left for a 64-59 lead. Roby had a double-double, with 10 rebounds, and he also blocked three shots.

The Terps (17-11, 6-9) had a chance to take the lead with a minute to play, but Glynn Watson Jr. blocked Anthony Cowan Jr.'s 3-point try, Evan Taylor came up with the loose ball and got it to Watson.

Watson missed a 3-pointer coming out of a timeout, and Roby got the rebound and was immediately fouled. He made both free throws for a 66-63 lead. Kevin Huerter's layin cut it to one point before Watson made two free throws.

Huerter went to the line with 2.8 seconds left, and after making the first free throw he intentionally missed the second. Palmer got the rebound, was fouled and put the game away with two free throws.

Bruno Fernando led the Terps with 21 points and nine rebounds. Huerter added 12 points and Darryl Morsell had 11.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: The Terps' fading NCAA Tournament hopes might have been dashed with their seventh straight road loss.

Nebraska: The Huskers are resting firmly on the NCAA bubble and absolutely needed this win. They got it, thanks to Palmer and Roby's efforts in the second half.

UP NEXT

Maryland hosts Rutgers on Saturday. It's the teams' only meeting this season.

Nebraska visits Illinois. The Huskers beat the Illini 64-63 in Lincoln on Jan. 15.

RELATED: DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: Missed opportunities

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Maryland overwhelmed by Penn State in close loss

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USA TODAY Sports

Maryland overwhelmed by Penn State in close loss

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Lamar Stevens feels like he's playing his most consistent basketball right now, a bad omen for upcoming opponents considering Penn State expects its hybrid forward to do a little bit of everything.

Just like he did on Wednesday.

Stevens scored 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting with 14 in the second half to lift Penn State over Maryland 74-70.

RELATED: UPDATED DMV POWER RANKINGS

"Lamar really stepped up for us," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We needed every one of those points that he had tonight."

Tony Carr added 16 points, Josh Reaves scored 14, and Mike Watkins added 11 for the Nittany Lions (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten Conference), who equaled their previous best mark for conference victories under Chambers.

"The best teams always find ways to win," Stevens said. "We locked down when we had to, got huge stops, huge rebounds and I think that's a huge step for this team."

With Maryland (16-10, 5-8) up 20-14 midway through the first half, Stevens nailed his first of two 3-pointers to spark a quick 9-0 run that helped Penn State take control.

He rolled layups off his fingers and sank midrange jumpers on multiple back-to-back possessions in the second half, where he scored 11 of his team's first 20 points.

"He made some incredible, incredible shots," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "He was terrific, he was so efficient."

Stevens added four rebounds, two assists and was 3-for-4 on free throws with all three makes coming in the final 5:48 as Maryland threatened.

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Anthony Cowan Jr. led Maryland with 15 points while Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando added 13 apiece.

Darryl Morsell had 10 points for the Terrapins, who cut a 10-point deficit with 8:11 to play to just three with 1:13 left.

"I didn't think we competed in the first half defensively," Turgeon said. "I thought in the second half, we were really trying hard."

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: The Terrapins' disappointing season continues and they have dropped to 7-7 since stalwart forward Justin Jackson's season was ended by a torn shoulder ligament in late December. Although they shot better than their season average, the Terrapins were badly outplayed in the paint, getting outscored 32-22 and outrebounded 27-23.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions are playing an exciting brand of basketball as of late. They have a combined 22 dunks over their last three home games and opponents are finding it hard to play fast against a team that thrives on speed.