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Kevin Huerter's fast rise continues into draft night

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USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Huerter's fast rise continues into draft night

After two short years in College Park, Kevin Huerter is hopeful his name will be called during tonight's first round of the 2018 NBA Draft. 

The Clifton Park, N.Y. native has a chance to become the first Maryland player to be selected in the first round since Alex Len went No. 5 overall to the Phoenix Suns following his sophomore year in 2013. 

Huerter has long been consistent in his pursuit of excelling in the sport he loves. 

It began in high school, where he led Shen to its first state championship while setting the state scoring record. 

Then, as a senior, Huerter was named Mr. Basketball in the state of New York. 

From smalltown upstate N.Y. to receiving over 20 offers and ultimately signing with Maryland, Huerter never looked back. 

The 19-year-old earned a starting spot right out of the gate his freshman season averaging 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. 

In between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Huerter was selected to the United States team for the 2017 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup coached by Jeff Van Gundy. 

Using that experience combined with an elevated offseason workout plan, he saw his production go up during his sophomore season scoring 14.8 points per game while en route to being named honorable mention All-Big Ten. 

After toying with whether or not he should leave Maryland, his father tweeted this out: 

Playing basketball with his talented younger sisters while trying to make the most difficult decision of his young life. That is Kevin Huerter in a nutshell. 

Fast forward to last month's NBA Combine in Chicago. Huerter chose to attend, seeing it as another opportunity to showcase his skills.

As a result, he saw his stock rise after showcasing his athleticism and sharp shooting, including a drill where he went 15 of 15 from 3-point range. 

According to Drew Zlogar, former teammate of Huerter's at Shenendehowa High School and current Digital and Social Content Publisher for the NBA, Huerter turned down a Barclays Center invite from the league to instead host a watch party of his own at a local country club in Clifton Park, N.Y., where he will be surrounded by family, friends and former high school teammates. 

As far as when Huerter is expected to come off the board, different scenarios continue to arise. 

If there's one thing for sure, it's that the former 3-star recruit is now an-almost guaranteed first round draft pick. 

Huerter has been known for his mild-mannered personality and cool-under-pressure aura about him in big moments. 

But the big man with a chip on his shoulder? That could be a scary thing for future opponents of the sharpshooter. 

Watch where Huerter goes in tonight's NBA Draft tonight at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. 

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A huge second half carries the Maryland Terps over Minnesota

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A huge second half carries the Maryland Terps over Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Anthony Cowan Jr. matched his career high with 27 points and freshman Jalen Smith pitched in a season-best 21 points and eight rebounds, leading Maryland's rally past Minnesota on Tuesday night for a 82-67 victory fueled by sharp free-throw shooting.

Bruno Fernando added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (13-3, 4-1 Big Ten), who went 24 for 27 from the foul line. Cowan, who also had six rebounds and five assists, made all 10 of his free throws as Maryland finished the game with a 21-6 run over the final seven minutes.

Amir Coffey had 16 points and five assists for the Gophers (12-3, 2-2), who clanked their way to defeat by missing 14 of their 23 foul shots. Coffey was 3 for 8, and senior power forward Jordan Murphy was 3 for 9.

The Gophers had a lead as big as 44-36 early in the second half and were still in front as late as the 13-minute mark, but Cowan, the junior point guard on one of the most inexperienced teams in the country, steered the Terrapins to a steely win that will look good in front of the NCAA Tournament selection committee in two months.

Smith zipped a cross-court pass out of a double team down low to find Eric Ayala for a 3-pointer and a 67-61 lead for Maryland. About three minutes later, Smith put the seal on the victory with a driving dunk for a 75-67 advantage.

With a win over Nebraska and a victory at Rutgers, Maryland started the new year and the resumption of conference play strong. This trip to Minnesota's cozy Williams Arena was a stiffer test, giving the young Terrapins the opportunity to win consecutive road games for the first time in nearly two years when they posted victories at Minnesota and Ohio State on Jan. 28 and 31, 2017. They went 2-8 on the home courts of their opponents last season.

Gabe Kalscheur scored 13 points, Daniel Oturu had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Dupree McBrayer added 10 points for the Gophers.

The Gophers entered the game with the second-worst 3-point shooting percentage in the Big Ten, but the freshman Kalscheur, who was just 6 for 34 from behind the arc over the last seven games, came through with three makes in five tries from long range. The most clutch of those was at the 7:50 mark, cutting Maryland's lead to 62-61, but the Terrapins snapped right back with seven straight points to retake control.

With the imposing length inside of Smith and Fernando, their 6-foot-10 duo, the Gophers needed to establish a rhythm with their outside shooting, but nearly every time the Terrapins employed their 2-3 zone defense they successfully kept the home team out of sync.

Coffey ran down a loose ball late in the first half to feed McBrayer for a banked-in 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 1:50 mark, and Coffey scored his first point with a free throw on the next possession. His turnaround with 32 seconds left before the break gave the Gophers a 40-34 advantage, and the junior in his first season as the point guard kept up his aggression to the basket in the second half.

Coffey's feed to Eric Curry for a short jumper gave Minnesota a 54-47 lead, but Cowan led another charge by the Terrapins after that, and this time the Gophers didn't come up with a counter.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Six consecutive Big Ten teams were just below the cut in voting for the latest edition of the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska and Maryland finished 27th through 32nd to give the conference 10 teams with votes from the 64-person panel this week.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: After missing the NCAA Tournament last season after a three-year streak of making it, coach Mark Turgeon's team has a promising nucleus that can only grow in confidence from this win.

Minnesota: Coming off a rousing and rare road win at rival Wisconsin last week, the Gophers bricked away their chance to build some momentum going into the heart of the Big Ten schedule.

UP NEXT

Maryland: Returns home to play 22nd-ranked Indiana on Friday night.

Minnesota: Stays home to face Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.

MORE NCAA NEWS:

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Jalen Smith sinks game-winner to propel Maryland past No. 24 Nebraska

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Jalen Smith sinks game-winner to propel Maryland past No. 24 Nebraska

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Nebraska's final attempt to score had gone awry, and as the buzzer sounded, Maryland's players rushed to the middle of the court to celebrate the team's most significant victory of the season.

"We beat a really good team. We need that for a confidence builder," coach Mark Turgeon said after the Terrapins used a late push to get past No. 24 Nebraska 74-72 on Wednesday night.

Bruno Fernando had 18 points and 17 rebounds, Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 19 points and freshman Jalen Smith accounted for Maryland's final seven points to finish with 15, including a tiebreaking layup with 3.8 seconds left.

The Terrapins (11-3, 2-1 Big Ten) had previously lost to Virginia, at Purdue and at home against Seton Hall. Turgeon rarely misses a chance to point out that this is "fifth-youngest team in the country," but he also knows that isn't an excuse for losing.

"Our guys are doing great," Turgeon said. "We're getting better. I'm just glad we won."

Maryland trailed 71-70 before Smith made a follow-shot off a 3-point try by Cowan with 28 seconds left. After James Palmer converted 1 of 2 free throws for Nebraska, Smith drove the middle of the lane for his decisive layup.

Following a timeout, Nebraska (11-3, 1-2) tried to work the ball up the court before Ricky Lindo Jr. knocked away a pass under the basket to seal it.

"It was extremely encouraging for all of us, just to see how far we've come," Fernando said. "Wins like that mean a lot to us, to the coaches, to everybody at the whole University of Maryland."

Palmer scored 26 points and Glynn Watson Jr. added 12 for the Cornhuskers, whose four-game winning streak ended.

Nebraska coach Tim Miles lamented his team's poor free-throw shooting (15 for 23), lack of rebounding (Maryland dominated 38-28) and a defense that allowed the Terps to hit eight 3-pointers.

"You can't give them eight 3s and not rebound. Pick one that you want to be awful at," Miles said.

It was a tough loss to take, as was an earlier seven-point setback at Minnesota, but Miles accepted it as life in the Big Ten.

"You've got to look at it from a global, big-picture perspective and say, 'This is just the way it's going be,'" he said.

The final minutes went back and forth, with neither team able to take charge.

After a three-point play by Smith put Maryland ahead 70-67 with 2:42 left, Watson made two free throws and Palmer turned a steal into a dunk for a 71-70 lead with 2:13 remaining.

That would be the last time the Huskers were in front.

"You hear the celebration in the opposing locker room, and it's disappointing because you probably played well enough to win but you just didn't do enough little things," Miles said.