Maryland Terps

Quick Links

Why one player is key to Maryland's small-ball hopes

usatsi_9155908_141983962_lowres.jpg

Why one player is key to Maryland's small-ball hopes

COLLEGE PARK -- The small-ball lineups that Maryland used extensively in Thursday’s win over Illinois simply were not feasible at different points earlier this season.

With Dion Wiley out for the season after undergoing knee surgery, head coach Mark Turgeon had to lean on other reserves in the backcourt rotation for production. The problem? Sophomore Jared Nickens slipped into the deepest shooting slump of his college career and junior-college transfer Jaylen Brantley had not yet adjusted to the Division I game.

“We didn’t really have much of a bench there for six weeks at the the guard position,” Turgeon said bluntly after the victory over Illinois. “They’re playing better now.”

After shooting 11-of-55 (20 percent) from three-point range over a 16-game stretch that spanned back to late December, Nickens is now 9-of-16 (56 percent) from deep over his last three.

What his re-emergence has allowed Turgeon to do is shift Jake Layman, who has played small forward all season, down to the power forward spot and insert Nickens as a wing player. He spreads the floor there alongside two guards and makes Maryland a much more well-spaced team offensively.

MORE TERPS: 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARYLAND-INDIANA

That means better looks for shooters on the perimeter, more space for bigs to operate in the post, and more room for guards like Melo Trimble when penetrating into the paint.

“I think small-ball worked to our advantage offensive and defensively because Jake can guard threes and fours,” Nickens said on Saturday. “I think either lineup we have on the floor will help us.”

But shooting well alone didn’t allow Nickens to find a spot in the regular rotation when the Terrapins go small.

Had he not progressed defensively like he has this season, it still would not be possible. Nickens said he worked with strength and conditioning coach Kyle Tarp in the offseason on foot speed and awareness to help him progress.

“It’s huge for us,” Turgeon said. “Jared’s doing it on both ends.”

Quick Links

Palmer's big 2nd half lifts Huskers past Maryland

fernando_maryland.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

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

Quick Links

Maryland overwhelmed by Penn State in close loss

bruno_fernando_usat.jpg
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.