The Maryland Terrapins caught a break in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament when Nebraska, an eleven seed, upset Wisconsin, a six seed, in the second round despite playing the previous night. The downside is that they lost an opportunity to pick up a top-50 win against the Badgers while also avenging their only Big Ten conference home loss. If there was any question where Maryland was ready to start the postseason they quickly answered the bell to start the game on their way to a record breaking offensive performance. Mark Turgeon put it best after the game, “we did a lot of great things offensively tonight. First of all, we followed the game plan. We played inside out.” Despite a late scare, the Terps used their Big Ten tournament record 97 points in a game to get to the semi-finals with a 97-86 victory over Nebraska.
Does it get any hotter than this?
The Terps were absolutely on fire in the first half offensively and that is being modest. Maryland scored the most points in a half they had all season, 54, while shooting it better than any half as well, 71.4 percent (20 of 28). For the cherry on top the Terps were an insane 9 of 10 from beyond the arc after hitting their first seven from deep. The beautiful thing to see was that the team did not continue to settle for jump shots by running efficient pick and roll offense and attack the rim. Diamond Stone put poor Jack McVeigh on a poster to put an exclamation point on a dominant offensive half.
Big game Jake nearly has his best career game
Jake Layman could not play any better to start the game. The four-year college veteran made all of his first five shots including four from beyond the arc. The Massachusetts native finished with 26 points with six 3-pointers and five rebounds. Layman came close to breaking his career high in points, 27, and 3-pointers made, 7, which came in his sophomore season against Morgan State. Coach Turgeon can always count on Layman for his defense, but whenever they are getting a scoring punch as well, the Terps are transformed into an elite offensive force because they do not have to rely on Melo Trimble as much.
Diamond Stone efficient from the field for his second best game as a Terp
The freshman’s 39 point performance in a comeback effort against Penn State is hands down the best game for an individual player Maryland has had all season. Since then Diamond Stone has only had one conference game with more than five field goals, at Michigan (8). Today the eventual NBA lottery talent came up big for Maryland with 23 points on just 15 field goal attempts. Stone was aggressive off the pick and roll and converted when the defense was sucked in by drives from Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon. Nebraska head coach Tim Miles said Stone is a “dominant player” that “has a NBA future when he decides” after the game.
Late scare does not allow Turgeon to rest stars
With 4:49 remaining in the game Melo Trimble made a layup to put Maryland up 90-72 and shortly thereafter the Upper Marlboro native and Layman checked out, presumably for the last time of the game. Little did we know that a furious Mark Turgeon, with Jared Nickens for a late turnover, decide to reinsert Trimble and Layman with 2:25 left in the game. Nebraska was on a 10-0 run, 19-4 extended, after getting three straight 3-pointers from Andrew White III. Nebraska was within six points with 1:38 remaining. Luckily an offensive rebound by Layman on a missed Damonte Dodd free throw with 54 seconds to go put the dagger in the Huskers season as the Terps advanced to the Big Ten semi-finals with a 97-86 victory.
Glaring problems remain that must be corrected immediately
Two of the biggest reasons for the Terps struggles during February was rebounding and turnovers. Although 60.3 percent (35 of 58 shooting) will mask the miscues tonight, the Terrapins can ill afford to continue such bad habits as the competition continues to get harder. In their visit to Lincoln earlier in the season Maryland committed 18 turnovers and gave up 16 offensive rebounds which resulted in a narrow victory over these Huskers. Today 14 turnovers and 10 offensive rebounds gifted Nebraska 35 points, resulting in Maryland’s second worst defensive showing of the year by points after the North Carolina loss where the Tar Heels could not miss. Whether it was because of a lack of focus or energy, the Terps have to keep a watchful eye on not shooting themselves in the foot one too many times in March.
Maryland will have their rematch with the Michigan State Spartans tomorrow in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament at 3:30 pm EST. The Spartans also took care of business with ease by stomping the Ohio State Buckeyes 81-54.