NCAA

No. 9 Maryland survives scare from Nebraska for 7th straight win

No. 9 Maryland survives scare from Nebraska for 7th straight win

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Jalen Smith had 16 points and 13 rebounds, Eric Ayala scored 16 and No. 9 Maryland edged Nebraska 72-70 Tuesday night to extend its winning streak to seven games and remain alone atop the Big Ten.

After the Terrapins (20-4, 10-3) let a 14-point lead dwindle to 71-70, Smith blocked a shot in the waning seconds and made a free throw on the other end to clinch it.

Donta Scott had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Maryland, and Anthony Cowan Jr. totaled 13 points and 10 assists. It was the first time since 2001 that three Terps registered double-doubles in the same game.

It was the seventh straight double-double for Smith, and the Terps needed him on both ends to improve to 14-0 at home.

Haanif Cheatham scored 20 and Thorir Thorbjarnarson added 15 for Nebraska (7-17, 2-11), which has lost nine straight and is 0-9 on the road. The Cornhuskers got back into the game by going 13 for 20 in the opening 13 minutes of the second half.

Maryland led 56-54 before Ayala sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a layup by Smith for a 10-point cushion with 4:47 to go.

Nebraska wasn't done. Two free throws by Cam Mack cut it to 71-70 with 12 seconds left before Cowan missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

Mack then drove the lane but had his shot swatted away by the 6-foot-10 Smith, who was subsequently fouled in the chase for the loose ball with less than a second remaining. Smith made the first shot and intentionally clanged the second off the rim.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon became the fifth coach in school history to reach the 200-victory plateau. Turgeon is 200-96 since taking over for Gary Williams before the 2011-12 season.

Smith had 10 rebounds and nine points in the first half, and Maryland led 38-25 at the break after limiting the Cornhuskers to 27% shooting.

Nebraska cut an 18-10 deficit to 20-19 before Scott drilled a 3-pointer to spark a 10-0 run that put the Terps up by 11.

Cowan capped the surge with three foul shots. He went 9 for 11 at the line before halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers have two seniors and just one victory in 2020. No one said rebuilding in the competitive Big Ten was going to be easy.

Maryland: The Terrapins did what was necessary to keep their winning streak intact. Yeah, they started slowly against the struggling Cornhuskers, but that's to be expected following an emotional comeback win at Illinois.

HELPING HAND

Mack was 1 for 10 from the floor, but the junior college transfer had eight assists to move past Tyronn Lue into fifth place on the school single-season list. Mack increased his assist total to 156. Lue had 152 as a senior in 1997-98 prior to an 11-year NBA career.

UP NEXT

Nebraska hosts Wisconsin on Saturday, the rematch of a Jan. 21 game won the Badgers, 82-68.

Maryland faces Michigan State on the road Saturday, the first of two games between the teams over a two-week span.

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George Mason grad transfer Justin Kier enters transfer portal, could return to Patriots

George Mason grad transfer Justin Kier enters transfer portal, could return to Patriots

George Mason got a mix of good news and bad news on Wednesday. Their senior Justin Kier was granted a fifth year of eligibility after missing the majority of the season due to injury. However, on the same day, Kier announced that he is entering the transfer portal. 

"I'm blessed to have been given this season back so I can play another year of college basketball. After a lot of prayer and discussion with my family, I've decided to enter the transfer portal," Kier said in his post. 

Kier also said that he has not ruled out the option of returning to the Patriots next year.

The 6-foot-4 guard will immediately eligible to play for whichever team he plays on for the 2020-21 season. Had it not been for an injury-filled senior year, he would have been a four-year starter for George Mason. 

Two injuries to his right foot limited Kier to only playing nine games. A big loss for Mason that struggled to find consistency without him on the floor. Just the year prior he was named the Atlantic 10's Most Improved Player and made the Second Team.

Kier's fifth season was never for certain. A waiver to earn a medical redshirt for the year was a long shot given that he had returned from the initial injury and played nearly a third of the season.

With his ball-handling, attacking nature, and all-around defensive skill set, there will be teams interested in Kier. Through his collegiate career, Kier has played both as a point guard and as a two-guard. Since he has left the option open to return for Mason, he would likely want to go somewhere that would allow him to start and contend for a postseason tournament. 

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Elite point guard grad transfer Bryce Aiken is considering Maryland, here's why the Terps need him

Elite point guard grad transfer Bryce Aiken is considering Maryland, here's why the Terps need him

Harvard grad transfer Bryce Aiken has narrowed his final collegiate destination to four teams: Maryland, Seton Hall, Michigan and Iowa State, according to multiple reports. On Thursday, the point guard is set to be making his decision. 

While already being active on the transfer market this offseason, adding a point guard at the caliber of Aiken would be a huge boost for the Terrapins. 

Aiken is immediately eligible for his final season of NCAA action. This past year he suffered a foot injury in mid-December that ended his senior season. As a member of an Ivy League school, he cannot compete as a graduate student, leaving the opportunity to play elsewhere.

What's most enticing about Aiken is his playmaking ability. He's regarded as "the most coveted grad transfer in years" by 247sports. In his junior season with Harvard, he was a unanimous All-Ivy League selection. His 22.2 points per game made him one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball and one of the more efficient guards with a 43.4-39.8-85.5 shooting split.

Those numbers alone had him Naismith Trophy Watch List and Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award Watch List at the beginning of last year. A feat that matched four-year starter Anthony Cowan Jr. 

For Maryland, they need a point guard. Cowan wrapped up his eligibility this season. The depth behind him at the point was just Eric Ayala, who played best for the Terps at the wing and Serrel Smith Jr. who played more than 10 minutes once after January. While two freshman PGs are set to come in with this recruiting class, neither would be the answer to guide a team that lost their top two scoring options from last year. The team needs someone to fill into Cowan's spot and likely deliver more if they want to compete at the same level. 

Aiken, though, has the potential to fill-in to Cowan's role. Perhaps he could be even better in terms of scoring the ball. The Crimson grad shot better than Cowan did the last two seasons and is more of a knock-down shooter.

The 6-0 guard decides his fate on Thursday. With him, Maryland can pick up right where they left off from a year ago and be a preseason top-25 team. Without Aiken, the Terps likely are in a rebuild.

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