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Maryland pulls past Cleveland State: 5 things to know

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Maryland pulls past Cleveland State: 5 things to know

COLLEGE PARK -- It looked like Maryland’s dominating win over Rhode Island in Cancun might serve as a turning point, putting the Terrapins’ tendency to let mid-major teams hang around in the past.

They still need to work to fully kick the habit, but Maryland seemed to have control for nearly the entirety of its 80-63 victory over Cleveland State on Saturday night in front of 17,282 at XFINITY Center in College Park.

Forward Robert Carter, Jr. led the away for Maryland with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting while adding eight rebounds. Sophomore Jared Nickens added a boost from three-point range with 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from deep.

Here are five things to know.

1) Letting a mid-major hang around, again

This has been Maryland’s problem all season and it happened again on Saturday night. It always seems to be a combination of small teams and those teams hitting shots on a given nights -- even the ones that are reasonably contested.

Take this, for instance: Cleveland State came into Saturday’s game ranked 337th out of 351 teams in offensive efficiency this season, creating just 0.819 points per possession. Somehow, it was a four-point game at the half. Probably because...

2) Perimeter defense lacking early

Twenty-two of Cleveland State’s 33 points in the first half came in the paint. For a team with this much length defensively and the versatility to throw out different lineups, Maryland should be able to prevent that.

Too many Vikings in the lane means too many layups for a team that came into the game shooting 25 percent from three-point range. Cut off that driving lane and take your chances with them shooting from the outside because the numbers say they won’t burn you.

3) Robert Carter, Jr. is an #allday option

Maryland is starting to realize -- and they will only learn further -- that any time they need a bucket, Robert Carter, Jr. will be their guy in any variety of ways. He can take an Iso look in the post. He can work off a pick-and-roll. He can face up. He can even step out and hit a three.

After a monster game in Cancun against Rhode Island, Carter carried Maryland early with 10 first-half points on 3-of-5 shooting while adding five rebounds.

4) A change coming out of the break

It’s obvious that Maryland saw the issue they faced at halftime and made an adjustment. They started hedging hard on ball screens and using a mix of soft and hard ¾-court pressure. That got the Vikings uncomfortable and less in-tune on the offensive end.

The result was an 11-2 run to start the second half to balloon Maryland’s lead to 13 points.

5) Three-pointers help to seal it

It was clear from the start that Maryland wanted to work the ball inside against a smaller Cleveland State team. The thing about the Terrapins is that they can flip the switch whenever they want and typically start hitting from deep.

In the second half, that’s what they did. After the Vikings cut the deficit to nine points, 54-45, with just over 12 minutes to play, Maryland used a 10-4 run that was fueled by threes from Jake Layman and Jared Nickens to push the lead to 15 over a five-minute span.

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Maryland reacts to latest FBI investigation reports

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Maryland reacts to latest FBI investigation reports

The world of college basketball has been on high alert since last fall when reports first surfaced of a longterm FBI investigation into the worst-kept secret in sports: college athletes being paid to play.

News surrounding the scandal died down after the inital wave of arrests, but Yahoo! Sports released a warning of sorts recently and followed it up on Friday by naming players (both past and present) for the first time. There were dozens of programs and players implicated, including Maryland's Diamond Stone.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon released the following statement Friday afternoon.

"Late last night we were alerted of a report associating one of our former student-athletes with an agent. We are extremely disappointed, and we will fully cooperate with any investigation. I do not have a relationship with Andy Miller or anyone from his agency, and at no time have I ever had a conversation with Andy Miller or his agency regarding any Maryland basketball player. We remain steadfast in upholding a program of integrity that reflects the values of our University community."

Stone played for the Terps during the 2015-16 season, after which he left for the NBA. That Terps team was highly-ranked entering the season but ended up losing in the Sweet 16 to top-seeded Kansas.

RELATED: DIAMOND STONE ADMITS TO 'MISTAKES' DURING FRESHMAN YEAR AT MARYLAND

Andy Miller is the agent whose financial records were used to implicate so many players in the Yahoo! Sports report. It's no surprise that Turgeon would deny having a relationship with Miller regarding any of his players, but the question remains: What does this mean for Maryland basketball?

You can be sure that Turgeon will be meeting with both past and current assistant coaches Friday to confirm they have not had any involvement with Andy Miller. He'll also certainly be meeting with higher-ups at Maryland, as they try to cover their bases. 

That said, it seems unlikely Maryland would take an action as drastic as firing Turgeon over these allegations. There has been no evidence released so far that implies Turgeon had any knowledge of Stone's actions. Barring further information coming to light, it seems as though this is a case of Stone developing a relationship with Miller's agency separately from Maryland.

Some of the more vocal members of Maryland's fan base would like to think Turgeon is on the hot seat. The truth is, given his long-term contract and the current state of Maryland's finances, it's not currently feasible to fire him and expect to afford a more accomplished coach. Though if further reports indicate Turgeon was complicit, then all bets are off.

It remains possible the NCAA will impose punishments on the schools involved with this scandal, in the form of reduced scholarships, postseason bans, or worse. But that's likely off the table until further evidence comes out regarding how much schools and coaches actually knew. It is a near-certainty that some schools were in cahoots with Miller and other agents; the problem is identifying which schools were intentionally breaking the rules, and which were simply unaware. Ultimately, however, some degree of responsibility falls on the head coach.

For now, the biggest worry on the minds of Maryland fans should be vacated wins. If Diamond Stone was ineligible, then it's possible the victories Maryland recorded during the 2015-16 season will be erased from the record books. Unfortunately, this could include their run to the Sweet 16, which was the program's first in more than a decade.

Given the expectations surrounding the team during Stone's year in College Park, his tenure could already be considered a disappointment. Losing those wins would further dampen the memories fans have from that season.

On the bright side, at least the Terps didn't have a Final Four run to lose.

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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