This was finally a spotlight game where the Maryland Terrapins looked like the nation’s No. 4 team from nearly start to finish.
Sophomore Melo Trimble approached triple-double territory on an impressive evening in a 72-57 Maryland victory over Northwestern on Saturday night in Evanston, Ill. Trimble finished with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists.
Four other players scored eight or more points in a balanced victory. Here are five things you need to know.
1) Diamond Stone a spark off the bench (again)
After Maryland’s five-star freshman broke school records in the team’s comeback win against Penn State, there seemed to be a question as to whether or not he would again come off the bench against Northwestern or if Turgeon would re-insert him into the starting lineup.
He came off the bench and he had an immediate impact.
Coming into the game around the 16-minute mark, Stone scored on the next two offensive possessions and had eight points by halftime. That kick-started the attack on Saturday night. Stone finished with 10 points to go along with three rebounds and two blocks.
2) Why the offense worked
Maryland has trouble vs. zones. Northwestern came out in a zone. So once Stone came into the game, they just starting running past it.
By going in transition to keep Northwestern from setting up the zone and by hitting shots from the outside when they were forced into half-court sets, Maryland got on a roll. The Terrapins were +7 in turnover margin in the first half, when led to run-outs and easy buckets.
Rasheed Sulaimon, coming off a rough outing against Penn State, started 5-for-5 from the floor for 13 points in the first half. He and Stone together scored more points in the first half (21) than the entire Northwestern team (20).
3) The crowd stays in it
Give Northwestern’s crowd credit. When many fan bases might have lost enthusiasm, the Wildcat fans stayed in it. The Terrapin lead grew to more than 20, but there was no loss of energy.
Even with the lead at 15 with under nine minutes to play, you might have thought it was a one-point game.
4) Always had an answer
When the crowd was in it, though, Maryland always seemed to have an answer to stop a small run from becoming a momentum-changing one.
Maryland lead slipped to “only” 14 points with just over 12 minutes to when Melo Trimble answered with a three. With under 10 minutes to play, the lead was down to 14 again. Sulaimon answered with a three of his own.
Give major credit to the Maryland backcourt. Trimble was in point guard mode and scoring mode at different points in the game, transitioning seamlessly between the two to nearly register a triple-double on the night.
Sulaimon was nearly as impressive, posting 16 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Guard play wins in March and there may not be a backcourt in the country continuing to grow and improve (with such a high ceiling) as much as Trimble and Sulaimon.
5) First road test a win
Northwestern’s gym was not an easy one to walk into and get a win. The crowd kept the pressure on and Maryland responded, giving glimpses of the type of team this can be and the type of ceiling that they can have.
It was running how they want it to -- even offense and aggressive defense, multiple figures in or near double figures, and a clean, tidy game. In hour hour and 50 minutes, Maryland got the win.