Maryland Terps

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Turgeon: I don't think I've ever seen defense like this from my team

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Turgeon: I don't think I've ever seen defense like this from my team

COLLEGE PARK -- Early in the season, if one had proposed that Maryland lean hard on its defense late to close out a game, it would have seemed unwise.

The Terrapins just were not to that point yet, using their offensive firepower instead to win games more in a shootout than a defensive chess match, like when they hit big shots late and put 75 on Georgetown and 77 on Illinois State and managed 81 (but surrendered 89) against North Carolina.

Times have changed in College Park -- no more readily apparent than Saturday against No. 18 Purdue when the Terrapins slammed the door shut in the game’s final six minutes by ripping off a 16-2 run to seal a 72-61 victory over the Boilermakers.

“Guys, I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve had really, really, really good defensive teams,” head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. “But right now we’re playing at a level that I don’t know if I’ve seen as a head coach out of my teams.”

The tide likely turned after Maryland’s 74-65 loss to Michigan State on the road in East Lansing on Jan. 23. After guard Bryn Forbes torched the Terrapins’ perimeter defense for 25 points, something must have clicked. 

With the combination of forwards Jake Layman and Robert Carter, Jr., they held National Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff to just nine points on 2-of-13 shooting in the game that followed, a victory over then-No. 3 Iowa. They won a pair of defensive battles against Ohio State and Nebraska.

Then on Saturday, they went stop-for-stop with KenPom’s No. 8-rated team in adjusted defensive efficiency for the win.

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“We try to make defense our identity,” senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon said. “I keep saying this and we keep saying it to each other. We have all the physical tools to be a great defensive team. It’s just about locking in, dialing in, and effort.”

Every season has ebbs and flows, which is why Maryland’s defensive uptick is so important right now. Oddly, the team’s offense -- even with the fact that all five of its starters could carry the offense on a given night -- has struggled on and off over the past six games.

Sometimes it is a second half where the points dry up, like against Iowa, or the whole game is a rock fight, like against Nebraska.

Fortunately for them, there is that defense.

“When our shots don’t fall, we rely on our defense,” Carter said after scoring 19 points against Purdue. “We got a bunch of long guys that can move their feet, that can rebound, block shots, different things like that so we’re just trying to use that to our advantage and when it’s time to compete and clamp up to win the game we did it tonight.”

This is the reason why many view Maryland as the team with the highest ceiling in the country and undoubtedly one of the 15 or so teams that could win a national title.

If they are ever able to string together a defensive stretch like this with an offensive one that we have seen at different points in the season, watch out.

“It’s a lot of fun when you’re sitting over there and you know you’re going to get stops,” Turgeon said. “I keep saying our offense is going to play at a high level at some point, but the good thing is we continue to win.”

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Maryland's Kevin Huerter surprises at 2018 NBA Combine

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Maryland's Kevin Huerter surprises at 2018 NBA Combine

Going into the 2018 NBA Combine, Kevin Huerter was not receiving much hype, was off many NBA Draft boards, and many assumed he was heading back to college anyways.

Playing in the first scrimmage of the combine process, all those storylines quickly changed.

Playing against players like Jacob Evans, Donte DiVincenzo, Udoka Azubuike, and Jevon Carter, Huerter emerged as one of the top stars. The two-year Maryland spot-up shooter saw 25 minutes of action and only trailed Penn State prospect Tony Carr in points on his squad.

With 14 points (5-11 FG, 3-8 three-pointers), Huerter showed development since he was last seen with the Terps. His passing was the biggest asset for his team and was not afraid to take a shot against these top defenders.  The 6-7 forward also added three rebounds, an assist, and had only one turnover.

Although his shooting in-game was not fantastic, in the individual drills he showed off.  Of the seven shooting marks, he ranked in the top five in five of them.  He also had the best shuttle run (2.96 seconds).

No question, Huerter’s draft stock significantly rose. Although still early, he is looking to be the highest rated Terp prospect this year over Justin Jackson and Bruno Fernando.

Consensus among those at the NBA Combine seems to believe that Huerter will return for his junior season at Maryland.

After today though, it may be hard to say no.

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Panthers' first-round pick D.J. Moore visits Maryland with his new puppy

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Panthers' first-round pick D.J. Moore visits Maryland with his new puppy

D.J. Moore has an adorable new puppy!

Days after the Carolina Panthers selected Moore as the No. 24 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the former Maryland wide receiver returned to his roots and paid a visit to College Park.

But the first-rounder wasn’t alone when he went to Maryland. According to the Terps’ football Twitter account, he brought his new puppy with him. Seriously, look at this puppy!

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The Big Ten Receiver of the Year in 2017, Moore was obviously a crucial component of the Terps’ offense. He finished the season with 80 catches — a Maryland single-season record, which was also a Big Ten high.

He declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season with Maryland.

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