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'We're not a bad team' -- On resiliency after trouble in February

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'We're not a bad team' -- On resiliency after trouble in February

COLLEGE PARK -- Back-to-back losses in December eventually get hidden by the passage of time in a long college basketball season. Back-to-back losses in February sound alarms.

The optics are less favorable. Polls react, often harshly.

That is where Mark Turgeon finds himself and his team, coming off losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota, with Michigan coming to College Park on Sunday. The first true stumbling block of the season came less than a month before the start of the NCAA tournament.

“I think the timing’s perfect,” Turgeon said Saturday. “To be honest with you, it hurt us for our chance to win a league championship. We still can do it, but I think the timing’s really good for us.”

Three games against NCAA tournament teams are ahead for Maryland in the next four overall. That includes rematches against the Wolverines at home -- a team that already beat the Terrapins in Ann Arbor -- and a Purdue team on the road that gave Maryland a battle in College Park.

This is a team that, over the course of the season, has seemed to play better teams more competitively, even in losses like against North Carolina and Michigan State, while struggling to put away lesser teams, like in close wins over Rider and Penn State or Thursday’s loss to Minnesota.

MORE TERPS: WHAT NATIONAL WRITERS ARE SAYING AFTER MARYLAND'S LOSS TO MINNESOTA

In that regard, perhaps Turgeon is correct.

But the optics are the force most difficult to fight, though if you ask Turgeon or players they will say outside noise means little in day-to-day preparation. This is a team that only had a handful of high-quality wins, but was still talked about favorably in the national conversation because of its lack of a bad loss.

Now there is a bad loss. The Terrapins become one of just two teams in the Top 25 with a loss to a sub-200 RPI team.

“We knew at some point we were going to have adversity. Every team goes through it over the course of a long year," senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon said. "I’d rather have it now than in March.

“We’re not a bad team, we just got to remember who we are and get back to the certain principles that we were doing when we were 22-3.”

Junior center Damonte Dodd said the team’s plane ride home was difficult. Since, the team has tried to embrace Turgeon’s mantra that the sun will indeed rise tomorrow. Slowly but surely, laughter and camaraderie are making a return after Thursday’s loss.

“They’re disappointed, they’re upset, they want to do better,” Turgeon said. “But I want them to do better because they want to do better -- not because the expectations on them are so high.

“We’re still 22-5. A lot of coaches in the country would kill to be where I am right now.”

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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.