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Terps prove to be worthy adversary for Kentucky

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Terps prove to be worthy adversary for Kentucky

When the game story is written about the Maryland Terrapins heart-stopping 72-69 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats tonight virtually every story will concentrate on Maryland’s woeful 33% field goal percentage and their inabilities to make shots from range.

Ultimately, though, many of the most directional plays in this game were plays that won’t be seen on SportsCenter and will never be quantified on a box sheet and we’ll get to a few of those momentarily

It was a valiant effort, to be sure, and there is no shame in a close loss to the defending national champs in a nationally televised affair. Yet, as the Terps exited Barclay’s Center after the game, each one had their head down as if they each understood that they had just let a golden opportunity slip through their fingertips.

Kentucky had seized a commanding 49-36 lead at the break on the strength of terrific shooting and a Maryland offense that shot a host of bad shots. The Terps were a horrid 13-44 in the first half and that included 0-11 from the three point line. Conversely Kentucky shot 18-31 and a solid 5-7 from three-point land.

A different Terp team emerged from the locker room at the start of the second half and they went on a 23-8 run over the first 11 minutes of the first half to seize a short-lived lead. At that point it became a possession game and sometimes the trick in games like that is to simply make sure you have more possessions down the stretch.

So, back to those subtle, directional plays…with the Terps up two after their run, forward James Padgett missed a contested layup that would have taken the lead to four points and committed a foul on the rebound. Instead of the Terps having their largest lead of the game, Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer (19 points and 6 rebounds in a terrific performance) canned two free throws and the game is tied.

The game went back and forth for the next four minutes to the under four minute media timeout. After Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel missed two free throws, Maryland point guard Pe’Shon Howard rebounded the second miss and turned to go up-court with his team down just 65-63. As he turned, Kentucky reserve guard Jarrod Palson was able to jar the ball out of his hands and throw in an acrobatic left handed reverse layup to put the Wildcat lead at four.

That was the first of three consecutive loose balls that were all collected by the Wildcats in the next sixty seconds and allow them to keep the Terps at bay. Eventually those loose balls led to a 68-63 lead before Maryland would cut into the lead at 1:59 on a tip-in by freshman Charles Mitchell. Those two minutes of empty possessions would prove to be killers for the Terps. They would close to 70-69 inside the ten second mark but two Palson free throws and a poorly executed offensive set by the Terps on the last play of the game resulted in a disappointing loss.

Great news actually came out of this game, regardless of the loss. If, in fact, Kentucky is the third best team in the land then the Terps could well be right behind them. Yes, they are that good and that talented.

Sophomore center Alex Len was the absolute best player on the court by a mile. He fashioned a dominating 23 point, 12 rebound, 4 block performance against a host of talented Kentucky bigs.

Freshmen Jake Layman, Seth Allen and Charles Mitchell all had good minutes – especially in the second half- and proved that they can be counted on against any level of competition. Allen made two three pointers in the game and combined with Howard to total 10 assists against just 2 turnovers in that critical point guard position.

After the game, the brutally honest Turgeon mulled over the game and the last possession that went awry. “Obviously I never designed a play for our point guard to try and get a shot over a 7-footer but I’m learning this team and there are some things that happen in these early games that you just cannot prepare for,” he said. But after his public flogging he was far more philosophical about his team and what they had just learned.

“We came a long way tonight and we’ll get better as a result. I just really wish we were able to learn these kinds of lessons after a win…”

After watching the Terps tonight one cannot escape the feeling that there are plenty of those coming Turgeon’s way.

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Maryland loses to Minnesota in fourth loss of past six games

Maryland loses to Minnesota in fourth loss of past six games

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Dupree McBrayer scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half, and Minnesota beat struggling No. 24 Maryland 89-75 on Wednesday night for its sixth straight victory.

The Golden Gophers (21-7, 9-6 Big Ten) are undefeated since losing to Maryland (22-6, 10-5) on Jan. 28. It was Minnesota's third consecutive road win, its longest run in the conference since 1989-90.

Down 53-50, the Gophers got 12 points from McBrayer in a 20-7 run that broke open a game that had gone back and forth to that point.

Nate Mason scored 17 points and Akeem Springs added 16 for Minnesota, which committed only six turnovers -- two after halftime.

Maryland standout guard Melo Trimble went 4 for 12 from the field and the Terrapins went 7 for 27 beyond the arc in losing for the fourth time in six games. Backup center Ivan Bender scored a career-high 15 points for Maryland and Trimble and Anthony Cowan each had 11.

Maryland had a three-point lead when freshman Justin Jackson missed a 3-pointer that would have made it 56-50.

McBrayer drilled a 3 on the other end, then added two field goals before Eric Curry scored in the lane to make it 59-53 with 10:47 remaining.

Just when it seemed as if the game was getting away from Maryland, Trimble connected from long range to spark a 7-2 surge that got the Terrapins within a point.

That would be as close as Maryland would get.

A jumper by McBrayer, four straight points by Jordan Murphy and a 3 by McBrayer made it 70-60 with 6:24 remaining.

A first half that featured four ties and four lead changes ended with the Terrapins in front 35-34.

After Maryland used a 10-0 run to take a 21-17 lead, the Gophers rattled off 10 straight points to move back in front. It was 29-23 before a dunk by L.G. Gill ignited another 10-point spree for the Terps.

Bender went 6 for 8 to score 12 points, surpassing his career high of 10. Trimble had five assists to offset his 1-for-7 shooting.

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Career night propels Melo Trimble to another Big Ten Player of the Week award

Career night propels Melo Trimble to another Big Ten Player of the Week award

Melo Trimble is the straw that stirs the No. 24 Maryland Terrapins' drink, and during the team's most important week of the regular season, we saw just how important he is.

The junior guard scored a career-high 32 points in a pivotal road victory against a NCAA Tournament-bound Northwestern team, and followed it up with 27 points in a tough road loss against then No. 11 Wisconsin.

The two-game performance was enough for the Big Ten to award Trimble with Player of the Week honors, the fourth time he has received the award.

Trimble made 12 of his 17 field goal attempts against the Wildcats, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. He also contributed three assists and grabbed four rebounds. Against Wisconsin, he scored the bulk of his 27 points in the second half, but struggled from the free throw line, making just 5 of his 10 attempts.

Against the Wildcats, Trimble carried the load, putting the team on his back, and it was more than enough.

He attempted to do the same against the Badgers, but needed some extra help. That's where the Terps have struggled this season. Freshman Justin Jackson, Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan have the ability to do so, but they are still just freshman, meaning consistent output on the road late in the season is far from a guarantee.

But one thing is for sure, Melo Trimble continues to prove that he is the type of player that can single-handily carry a team to the NCAA Tournament's second weekend.

The Big Ten knows this, and it won't be long before the rest of the country does too.

RELATED: TERPS CONTINUE TO SLIDE DOWN AP TOP 25 POLL