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Maryland makes it 12 straight with win over IUPUI

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Maryland makes it 12 straight with win over IUPUI

After a solid month of playing mid-major teams from around the country the Maryland Terrapins could probably be excused for sleep walking through their New Year’s Day matinee against the IUPUI Jaguars at Comcast Center today.

The end result was a to-be-expected 81-63 rout of the visitors. While the Terps took a circuitous route to getting the win, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon pronounced his team ready for ACC play.

That’s a good thing because league play begins this Saturday against Virginia Tech.

While much of the media has focused on the rotation of players that Turgeon may or may not employ with the conference season upon us, the coach himself has focused on the benefits of Maryland’s unparalleled depth and the answers he seems to have for every situation as a result.

With IUPUI red-hot out of the gates and off to a 14-3 lead barely six minutes into the game Turgeon had already tired of his team’s effort defensively and went to the bench for answers. He ended up getting exactly what he wanted – and then some.

Freshman guard Seth Allen may have been inserted initially for defensive purposes but he nailed back to back three pointers and the Terps- and the crowd in attendance- seemed to come to life.

The Jaguars continued to shoot the lights out of Comcast for a few more minutes and eventually held a 19-9 lead with 12 minutes left in the first half. After what happened over the next 6 minutes, IUPUI was probably left wishing that they had literally shot the lights out of Comcast.

Maryland reserves went on a quick 11-0 run to hand the lead back to the Terp’s starting five and they immediately went on a 9-3 run of their own. That 20-3 run over a seven minute span effectively decided the game and allow Maryland the chance to try and do some fine tuning heading into conference play.

There was plenty to be concerned with, to be sure. IUPUI had struggled to score in many of their previous outings but shot the ball extremely well for the first thirty minutes before fatigue took over and they wilted against Maryland’s depth. For the game they ended up a solid 24-54 (45%), the best an opponent has shot against the Terps this season.

The Terps also committed 14 turnovers against a team that rarely pressured them. Many of them could be categorized as “unforced errors” that Turgeon quickly alluded to after the game. He also countered that quickly by saying how much he loved how his team shared the ball and pointed to the 16 assists his club had.

When he was asked about Virginia Tech just after the game, Turgeon was quick to say that he had completely focused on IUPUI in advance of this contest and that preparation for the Hokies would be coming over the course of the next few days.

That may be true – to a degree. Turgeon is an extraordinarily superstitious coach and he knows enough not to offend the basketball Gods by preparing for one opponent five days away when you have a game against another opponent tomorrow. That said, there can be little doubt that his assistants have probably watched enough tape of Virginia Tech to run a Hokie practice themselves. You can be certain that Turgeon left College Park with a scouting report and plenty of game tape to watch tonight when he gets home.

Virginia Tech had started the season as one of the real surprises in the league and they reeled of seven consecutive wins. Since that point they have lost four of six games, including blowout losses against Colorado State and Brigham Young. They are led by perhaps the ACC’s most NBA-ready player in point guard Erick Green, who is averaging a league best 24.4 points per game. For the Terps the job defensively will begin with containing Green.

As the nearly 9,000 in attendance strolled into the College Park night there had to be some consensus among them that – for all intents and purposes- the JV games are over.

Now it’s time to bring on the Varsity.

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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.

RELATED: COULD AN INJURY FILLED SEASON VAULT THE TERPS IN '18-'19?

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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An injury riddled season may prepare the Terps for a historic future

An injury riddled season may prepare the Terps for a historic future

Injuries are the tale of the 2017-18 season for the Maryland Terrapins.

A season that was supposed to signify the post-Melo Trimble era in College Park quickly became derailed after the loss of Naismith Trophy contender Justin Jackson and his backup Ivan Bender.

Short-term, these injuries have set Maryland back this season, so much that they are on the bubble of making the NCAA Tournament. Even if they do happen to miss the tournament for the first time since 2014, it is not all doom and gloom for Maryland. The way these injuries have sprouted up could propel the Terps back to the national stage a year from now. A stage higher than the program saw during the Trimble era.

BRACKETOLOGY: WHERE DO THE EXPERTS HAVE THE TERPS?

Back in December, it was an all too familiar sight for the Terps under head coach Mark Turgeon. The Terps announced that Jackson (9.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg) would miss the rest of the season due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Merely three days later it was announced Bender (4.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg) was going to miss the season too with a torn meniscus.

With these two added to the list, it marked the eighth significant injury for the Terps since Turgeon took over in 2011-12 according to Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

Losing Jackson and Bender further dug a hole that Maryland was in at the start of the year. Opening the season with only 11 scholarship players, two less than the NCAA maximum, there was no depth concern in the Maryland camp given the quality of players they had. Now having only 11 or 12 scholarship players is not too uncommon in college hoops. In reality, only eight or nine players see significant time in a Division I rotation.

But Jackson was a starter and if not considered the best on the roster, he was at least their No. 2 guy. Paired with the loss of Bender, the most experienced forward on the roster was then a redshirt-freshman Joshua Tomaic.

In all likely-hood, the 2017-18 season was going to be the last season for Jackson in College Park. A season ago he declared his eligibility for the 2017 NBA draft but returned to the program after not signing with an agent. His flirtation with taking the next step gave the indication that with a solid-to-stellar season, Jackson was going to be an easy choice as a first-round draft pick in 2018.

Now with an injury after 11 games, going to the 2018 draft may not be the best option for the 6-foot-7 Canadian. The return to College Park may be imminent.

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

Stepping up into the empty four spot in the starting line-up was the four-star freshman Bruno Fernando. Before the loss of Jackson and Bender, he was averaging 19.5 minutes and bringing in 10 points a contest. Now he is up to 24 minutes a game, and although spotty, scoring 10.4 ppg. The 6-10 ball of energy has displayed a wealth of skill to go along with his uncanny talent and is now a certified NBA Draft prospect. 

He has been fortuned more time to develop, which has been evident of late. He is fiery, a fan-favorite, and can be groomed to fill Michal Cekovsky’s (one of three players that will leave the program this year) spot in the post. Defensively Fernando has a team-high 26 blocks.

There is also more court time for the other healthy forward, Tomaic which would give Maryland four formidable forwards entering next year. If Fernando stays, and that is a big if, Maryland will start to look like an embarrassment of riches.

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

LATEST DMV POWER RANKINGS: TERPS ARE STUCK

One slight disappointment this year, has been sophomore Kevin Huerter. With the loss of Jackson, he had to step up to be the other ball handler besides Anthony Cowan Jr. Although still with some of the best shooting numbers on the team (50.5 percent FG, 45.5 percent three-point range), his handling has been exposed.

As a freshman, he was known as a 6-7 spot up shooter. Now he forced to generate his own shot as the No. 2 guy behind Cowan, sometimes going for a little too much. He has to learn to initiate the offense, giving the team more options in a full ranged offense.

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

Dion Wiley is seeing double the minutes he did last season after his knee injury in 2015. This is despite reoccurring concussion issues he’s been battling this year. It is by far his best season in every statistical category, shaping up to be the preferred bench guard next year.

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

Another freshman Darryl Morsell is getting more time at the guard position with a limited rotation. Believe it or not, he may be the best freshman, over Fernando. 

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

If everyone is healthy and Jackson and Fernando stay, it could be the most dynamic starting five in the Big Ten. Purdue is going to be losing four senior starters after this season. Ohio State will lose three starters if Keita Bates-Diop chooses to go to the NBA. Michgan's roster will be up in the air and while Michigan State will still be one of the top teams, they will be losing Miles Bridges to the NBA Draft at the end of this season.

A good sign for the 2018-19 Terps.

The projected line-up next season in College Park will be something like this: Anthony Cowan Jr., Kevin Huerter, Darryl Morsell, Justin Jackson, and Bruno Fernando. The bench will have Dion Wiley, Ivan Bender, and Joshua Tomaic. It will be a dynamic, electric, and flexible group that can play big or small.

None of this even mentions the two four-star recruits and a five-star that Maryland has coming into the program, with more open scholarships available to use, like five-star center Moses Brown. Additionally, there is a McDonald's All-American selection, Jalen Smith, that many recruiting experts pin Maryland as his primary choice.

At the time of this writing, the Terps are 14-6 (3-4 Big Ten) this year and by no means is the season over. The talent on this team is capable of going on a run and getting into the NCAA Tournament and from there we have seen crazier things happen. It would be foolish though to say they are not running out of time.

If that push is not there at the end of the year, there is still the NIT, which will give the young team more time together.

But with the roster currently assembled, with everyone healthy in 2018-19, it is hard not to see this team as a favorite for the Sweet 16 a year from now. With the quality of top recruits they continue to bring in, there is no question they will be in the national championship conversation.

And that projection is being modest.

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