NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Big city, bright lights, not really a problem.
In another featured game on national television, this time at Madison Square Garden in New York City against a fringe Top-25 team, Maryland played -- all things considered -- its best start-to-finish game of the season in a 76-66 victory over Connecticut on Tuesday night.
Sophomore guard Melo Trimble led the way with 25 points, including 14-of-15 shooting from the free throw line. Freshman Diamond Stone was one rebound away from a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Here are five things you need to know.
1) Sticking with a successful starting lineup
Against St. Francis, putting Damonte Dodd in the starting lineup and bringing Diamond Stone off the bench jump-started the offense. Head coach Mark Turgeon stuck with it and it gave himself exactly what he would have wanted.
Once entering the game in place of Robert Carter, Jr., Stone had five points and four rebounds by the under-16 timeout. He had an and-one layup that sparked an outburst of emotion and confidence that we have not really seen from him this season.
2) Asserting themselves early
With help from that lineup, Connecticut had no answer for the Terrapins on the inside. Melo Trimble was dicing the defense by getting to the basket, then dishing to Stone for layups and slams.
After settling for jumpers on the first few possessions, Maryland made it a point to attack the basket off the bounce or by dumping it into the post and getting fouled. That supplemented their sub-par shooting effort in the first half to push them to a 16-point halftime lead.
3) Defense, defense, defense
Connecticut has no shortage of talented perimeter players, from Sterling Gibbs to Daniel Hamilton to Rodney Purvis to Jalen Adams. On top of that, Maryland struggled early in the season with perimeter defense.
Not an issue on Tuesday night. Connecticut scored just 22 points in the first half and shot 30.4 percent. Diamond Stone, who at times has struggled defensively, was able to guard UConn big man Amida Brimah -- much less an offensive talent than he is a defensive one. With that, nearly every possible trouble spot was accounted for.
4) Connecticut makes a second-half push
In the first four minutes of the second half, Maryland’s defense slipped into a rut of complacency. The lead was trimmed to nine by the 13-minute mark. The Connecticut-friendly crowd got louder. But a well-timed timeout by Turgeon helped to turn the tide and within about four minutes, Maryland had again pushed the lead to 16 points, 59-43.
Connecticut pushed back again, cutting the deficit to nine, 65-56, with 4:40 to play. Another stretch of terrific back-and-forth basketball saw Trimble hit a floater, then Purvis responded with a three to cut the Terrapins’ lead to six, 67-61.
5) A pivotal technical
After Daniel Hamilton made a three-pointer to cut the Maryland lead to just three points, 67-64, Connecticut guard Jalen Adams was called for a foul on the ensuing in-bound. Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie was displeased. Papers ended up on the playing floor when he swiped them off the scorers' table in anger and he was given a technical foul.
Trimble made three free throws, pushing the Maryland lead back to six points. The momentum was never in Connecticut’s favor again.