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Terps pull away from Richmond: 5 things you need to know

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Terps pull away from Richmond: 5 things you need to know

COLLEGE PARK -- Saturday’s game was a re-opening of sorts, with quarterback Perry Hills getting his first start under center in three years for Maryland. But it was the player lined up just behind him who powered the Terrapins to a win.

Brandon Ross, playing in the first game of his final collegiate season, gained a career-high 150 yards in a 50-21 Maryland victory over Richmond at Byrd Stadium in College Park.

Here are five things you need to know about the win.

1) Mixed results for Perry Hills

Hills started 0-of-4 with an interception. He was plagued by underthrows in the first half, including missing a wide-open Levern Jacobs in the end zone -- a drive that ended in just three points.

An attempt to aim the ball instead of letting it go may have contributed, but arm strength isn’t what made Hills the starter, either. That’s what made first-half playcalling a question because Maryland was really trying to stretch the field with little success.

When the focus came back to the running game, centered around Ross, short-to-intermediate routes helped Hills to settle in. Yes, there were still underthrows, including one to end a three-and-out drive with under eight minutes left in the third quarter that prompted some stern coaching from Randy Edsall on the sideline.

His best pass of the day came on a button hook to Malcolm Culmer near the end of the first half that Culmer turned upfield and took 37 yards for a touchdown.

He was replaced by Caleb Rowe in the fourth quarter, finishing 11-of-21 for 138 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. More to come analyzing his performance later on CSN.

2) Will Likely is Maryland’s best weapon

It’s not often that a program loses a kick or punt returner to the NFL, that being Stefon Diggs, and replaces him with a player who is as good or better. That might be the case with Maryland and Will Likely this season.

The junior aided Maryland’s offense by giving them terrific field position all day, beginning with a 42-yard kick return to begin the game. With the offense probably going to run into its share of struggles throughout the season, starting drives with good field position will help.

He finished with 296 return yards, 233 on punts and 63 on kicks. In the fourth quarter, he returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown. The 233 yards is a Big Ten record, breaking a mark set back in 1939 by Iowa’s Nile Kinnick.

MORE TERPS: DIGGS SAVES BEST FOR LAST IN PRESEASON FINALE

3) Struggles in the red zone

Will Likely got them in good field position (more on his returning success below). Ross reached the 150-yard mark and helped to get them into the red zone. But inside the 20, Maryland struggled to score in the first half.

Some of it was caused by Hills’ inaccuracy, but there was also less push from the offensive line on running plays deep. Against a team like Richmond, those deficiencies don’t cost you a game. In the Big Ten? It could be a problem.

Having Brad Craddock as a kicker helps, though he uncharacteristically missed a field goal and an extra point on Saturday.

4) A commitment to running the football

Quarterback C.J. Brown was the team’s leading rusher last season. Now that he graduated, one of the prevailing questions is who gets the carries that have been left on the table. If Saturday, is any indication, expect a heavy dose of Ross and Wes Brown.

Ross, as mentioned above, reached a career mark on the ground, complemented by Brown and his 73 yards on the day.

Richmond never proved that it could stop the run, so Maryland just kept pounding it on the ground.

5) Quinton Jefferson showing he can anchor the line

Maryland’s offensive line saw significant rollover in the front seven from last season on top of the fact they shifted to a 4-3 base defense. Jefferson, back from injury, showed he can be an anchor up front.

Jefferson tallied six tackles, including two sacks, and 2.5 tackles for a loss.

That helped Maryland’s defense, which struggled against the run last season, hold Richmond to just 1.5 yards per carry.

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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