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Turgeon: Maryland showing vs. Illinois St. 'best we’ve played'

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Turgeon: Maryland showing vs. Illinois St. 'best we’ve played'

Maryland has flirted with late-game deficits in three of its first four games of the 2015-16 season, including Tuesday night’s 77-66 victory over Illinois State in the semifinals of the Cancun Challenge south of the border in Mexico.

Tuesday, Maryland trailed by five points with seven minutes remaining before ripping off a 25-9 run to finish the game and win by a comfortable-looking double-digit margin.

“To be honest with you, this is the best we’ve played. We got down five in the second half and kind of gutted it out,” head coach Mark Turgeon told CBS’s Doug Gottlieb in an on-court interview after the game.

“We showed a lot of guts tonight. We’re getting everybody’s best shot and we’re still getting used to that.”

The biggest reason for these close games and deficits late is now clear -- Maryland has serious trouble against small ball lineups. The domino effect that has followed the injury to sophomore guard Dion Wiley may have been more impactful than first expected and it shows itself most when mid-major shift wing players down into the post.

MORE TERPS: MEET MARYLAND'S NEXT OPPONENT IN CANCUN

We saw it again on Tuesday. Each of Maryland’s three centers -- Damonte Dodd, Michal Cekovsky, and Diamond Stone -- had two fouls in the first half. It was too much to ask of them to expect a 6-10 or 6-11 player to chase around a quicker, more agile 6-7 forward.

That creates foul trouble and open shots for the opposition.

Once the second half came and Maryland was able to experiment with Jake Layman at the power forward spot or even the four-guards-and-a-big lineup of Melo Trimble, Rasheed Sulaimon, Jaylen Brantley, Jared Nickens, and Dodd, they were able to get their footing and push back.

Smaller lineups allowed them to defend better, which forced Illinois State misses, which kept the Redbirds out of their press, which took pressure off of Trimble, which allowed him to create for others, which helped them to storm back.

Another small ball team awaits Wednesday when the Terrapins face Rhode Island in the Cancun Challenge championship game. We’ll see how they respond.

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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

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Maryland overwhelmed by Penn State in close loss

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USA TODAY Sports

Maryland overwhelmed by Penn State in close loss

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Lamar Stevens feels like he's playing his most consistent basketball right now, a bad omen for upcoming opponents considering Penn State expects its hybrid forward to do a little bit of everything.

Just like he did on Wednesday.

Stevens scored 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting with 14 in the second half to lift Penn State over Maryland 74-70.

RELATED: UPDATED DMV POWER RANKINGS

"Lamar really stepped up for us," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We needed every one of those points that he had tonight."

Tony Carr added 16 points, Josh Reaves scored 14, and Mike Watkins added 11 for the Nittany Lions (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten Conference), who equaled their previous best mark for conference victories under Chambers.

"The best teams always find ways to win," Stevens said. "We locked down when we had to, got huge stops, huge rebounds and I think that's a huge step for this team."

With Maryland (16-10, 5-8) up 20-14 midway through the first half, Stevens nailed his first of two 3-pointers to spark a quick 9-0 run that helped Penn State take control.

He rolled layups off his fingers and sank midrange jumpers on multiple back-to-back possessions in the second half, where he scored 11 of his team's first 20 points.

"He made some incredible, incredible shots," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "He was terrific, he was so efficient."

Stevens added four rebounds, two assists and was 3-for-4 on free throws with all three makes coming in the final 5:48 as Maryland threatened.

MORE TERPS: MARYLAND STILL CONSIDERED BY MANY BRACKETOLOGISTS

Anthony Cowan Jr. led Maryland with 15 points while Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando added 13 apiece.

Darryl Morsell had 10 points for the Terrapins, who cut a 10-point deficit with 8:11 to play to just three with 1:13 left.

"I didn't think we competed in the first half defensively," Turgeon said. "I thought in the second half, we were really trying hard."

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: The Terrapins' disappointing season continues and they have dropped to 7-7 since stalwart forward Justin Jackson's season was ended by a torn shoulder ligament in late December. Although they shot better than their season average, the Terrapins were badly outplayed in the paint, getting outscored 32-22 and outrebounded 27-23.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions are playing an exciting brand of basketball as of late. They have a combined 22 dunks over their last three home games and opponents are finding it hard to play fast against a team that thrives on speed.