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Maryland tops UVa 27-20

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Maryland tops UVa 27-20

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Stefon Diggs returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and fellow freshman Perry Hills threw for one TD and ran for another as Maryland defeated Virginia 27-20 in Atlantic Coast Conference action on Saturday, extending the Cavaliers' losing streak to five.

The kickoff return started a disastrous first quarter that put Virginia (2-5, 0-3) in a 17-point hole it could never climb out of, despite moving the ball well at times and rallying behind backup quarterback Michael Rocco.

Rocco came on in relief of a struggling Phillip Sims in the fourth quarter with the Cavaliers down 27-13 and promptly directed a 10-play, 81-yard drive. His 24-yard touchdown pass to Jake McGee pulled Virginia within 27-20 with 4:10 left.

But that was all the magic Rocco could muster. After a three-and-out by Maryland, the Cavaliers got the ball back at the Terrapins' 49 with 1:51 left but four Rocco passes fell incomplete.

The Cavaliers, down 7-0, had their first possession ended when Anthony Nixon intercepted a Sims pass and returned it to the Virginia 32. Five plays later, Hills connected on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Justus Pickett to put Maryland ahead 14-0 less than five minutes into the game.

Virginia pinned the Terrapins at their own 2, but a 27-yard pass from Hills to Kevin Dorsey got Maryland out of trouble. On the next play, Diggs caught a pass and appeared to be hemmed in, but he reversed his field and wove his way down the right side for 60 yards. After two running plays lost yardage, the Terrapins settled for Brad Craddock's 33-yard field goal to make it 17-0 with 4:59 left in the quarter.

Maryland's big pass plays negated a stellar effort by Virginia's run defense. The Terrapins had zero yards rushing in the first half.

Sims, the Alabama transfer making his second start for the Cavaliers, had a rough outing. He had at least three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, and he lost a fumble on a sack at the Virginia 15 in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers were trying to come back from an 11-point deficit.

The Cavaliers continued to struggle converting points when they got the chance. After kicker Drew Jarrett's line-drive field goal attempt was blocked, he was replaced by Ian Frye who was good from 20 yards on his first career try to cut Maryland's lead to 17-3 at the half.

Virginia dodged a bullet in the third quarter when Maryland's Matt Furstenburg dropped a sure touchdown pass, and Craddock's field goal attempt clanked off the left upright.

After the teams traded three-and-outs, Virginia cut the margin to 17-10 on Sims' 20-yard touchdown pass to a well-covered E.J. Scott, who caught the ball falling down in the back corner of the end zone.

On the next play, Virginia's Will Hill recovered a Hills fumble at the Virginia 31. The Cavaliers reached the Maryland 3, but Sims' third-down lob to tight end Jake McGee was incomplete and Virginia settled for Frye's 22-yard field goal.

A personal foul penalty against Virginia after the field goal forced the Cavaliers to kick off from their 20, and Diggs' return put the Terrapins in business at the Virginia 47. A 22-yard pass from Hills to Furstenburg set up Hills' 6-yard touchdown run to make it 24-13.

Maryland added a 28-yard Craddock field goal after the Sims fumble.

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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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