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Why Terps will lose if defense vs. Michigan St. is like vs. Nebraska

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Why Terps will lose if defense vs. Michigan St. is like vs. Nebraska

Maryland set a new Big Ten tournament record by scoring 97 points in Friday night’s win over Nebraska. When asked about his offense postgame by BTN, head coach Mark Turgeon praised the progress his team had made before pivoting to the other end of the floor.

“I just want us to guard a little bit better,” he said. “That would make me feel better.”

For as impressive as those 97 points were, Maryland surrendered 86 to the Cornhuskers, including a furious comeback that cut the Terrapin lead from 25 points all the way down to six with under two minutes to play.

The key metrics that should be of concern: field goal percentage (47 percent), made threes (11), turnovers forced (only 8), and offensive rebounds (10).

If not corrected, all of those problem areas only become bigger issues against the nation’s No. 2 team, Michigan State, in the tournament semifinal on Saturday.

“They play fast and defense is key for us,” senior Jake Layman told CSN’s Chick Hernandez.

It will all start defensively with how Maryland chooses to defend National Player of the Year candidate Denzel Valentine. What makes him so dangerous is not only his ability to go get points himself (19.6/game) but his ability to make others around him better (7.5 assists/game).

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One option could be the length of Layman, who when aggressive is Maryland’s most complete-package defender on the perimeter. They could also try an agitator like Rasheed Sulaimon for stretches.

Last time these two teams met in East Lansing, the Spartans needed someone else on the perimeter to hit shots aside from Valentine. That was Bryn Forbes, who had 25 points. Since that game he has reached the 25-point mark three times, including hitting a record 11 threes in a win over Rutgers.

That is before accounting for the interior, where center Matt Costello changed the course of the first matchup between these teams. The Spartans had 17 offensive rebounds in that game and extra possessions against the nation's elite teams mean trouble.

Perhaps that means more from freshman Diamond Stone and redshirt junior Robert Carter. Stone looked to have more energy and fresher legs against Nebraska. A continuation of that would be huge for Maryland.

“They’re always a great team, especially down the stretch of March,” senior Rasheed Sulaimon said. “Coach Tom Izzo does a great job of getting his guys prepared. They’re not going to beat themselves. You have to really execute and you have to beat them.

“We have to keep them off the glass, slow down their transition and then try to keep their big-time players to have a quiet night. We have our hands full, but they also have their hands full us too so we’re coming into the game confident and we’re going to go over our game plan tonight and we should be ready for a great game [Saturday].”

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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.

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"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.

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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.