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Maryland gets a win in home-opener

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Maryland gets a win in home-opener

The Maryland Terrapins received an unexpected gift in their attempt to get beyond the post-Kentucky hangover they almost certainly felt after their nationally televised heartbreaker on Friday night. That gift came in the form of the Morehead State Eagles and had nothing to do with any inabilities or incompetence.

In fact, it was quite the opposite.

From the very first possession of the game, the Eagles double teamed, rebounded, and hustled their tails off against a young Maryland team playing its first home game of the season. Their efforts simply would not allow Maryland to mail in this game and coast to an easy victory.

That Maryland won this game handily, 67-45, doesn’t really speak to just how hard the Terps had to work for the win. They endured another terrible shooting first half (9-24) by using impressive depth and stifling defense in route to a 35-19 halftime lead. They were bolstered by a 16-22 performance from the free throw line and in that first half and a terrific all-around performance by sophomore center Alex Len who had 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and generally made life miserable around the Morehead basket.

In the end, the crowd of 8,724 left energized by the performance they had just witnessed by a Maryland team that had 10 players enjoy double figure minutes. While Nick Faust and Len led the scoring with 12 and 11 points respectively, fans were also able to get a quality sample of a handful of newcomers.

Sophomore Dez Wells was impressive in his home debut and shot 50 percent from the field and was in the middle of several scrums where he inevitably came up with possession of the ball. He finished the game with 8 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds and also finished the game’s signature play when he caught a lob pass in transition in the first half right around the top of the white square and threw down a dunk that had the rim rattling for a good thirty seconds.

Freshmen Jake Layman and Charles Mitchell did what they are supposed to do. Layman hit spot up jumpers and Mitchell grabbed every rebound within the area code. Layman ended up with 7 points and appears to be a credible threat to take pressure off of Len down the road. Mitchell ended up with a team leading 9 rebounds and continues to impress with his both his hands and his motor.

But the biggest impression of the night probably belonged to freshman Shaquille Clear. He will always be compared to his classmate Mitchell and he has struggled in his first two outings as a Terp. In this game, however, he stepped up in a big way. He scored 8 points that included a sterling 5-6 performance from the free throw line. He also grabbed 5 rebounds and had 3 blocks. Except they weren’t just blocks.

Evidently the big fella never heard of the legend of Bill Russell and how he used to block shots to himself to start fast breaks. Instead, Cleare appears to be interested in seeing exactly which section of the Comcast Center he might be able to send the ball to. Each one of his shots actually landed in the lap of various fans in attendance. And each one was greeted with the same sort of “did you just see that?” look from the students sitting close to the floor.

Next up for the Terps are the Blackbirds from Long Island University. The first game of the season resulted in a three point loss to this same Morehead State team. They are a regular NCAA tournament team and love to play at pace. That, in and of itself, will offer Maryland another challenge.

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Iowa's Fran McCaffery blows up at refs following loss to Terps

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USA Today Sports

Iowa's Fran McCaffery blows up at refs following loss to Terps

The No. 25 Maryland Terrapins blew a 15-point lead on Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa, but managed to stave off a furious comeback to defeat the Iowa Hawkeyes, 84-76.

The Terrapins (17-2, 5-1) led by as many as 13 points in the second half, but 13-3 run got the Hawkeyes (11-9, 3-4) back into the game with nine minutes remaining. But Fran McCaffery's team turned the ball over two and committed three fouls in the final 50 seconds which allowed the Terps to hang on for the victory.

But the final foul, the one Ryan Kriener committed on Terps' freshman Anthony Cowan, did not sit well with McCaffery. Immediate following the final buzzer, the fiery head coach got right into the face of the referees and nearly missed the handshake line.

McCaffery has a somewhat lengthy history as it pertains to tempers flaring up. In January 2015, he got into a tiff with ESPN's Dan Dakich over several incidents involving then center Adam Woodbury. Last March, he erupted at reporters following a loss to Illinois, telling them on multiple occasions during a press conference that "It's none of your business."

In December, he refused to shake hands with the North Dakota players and coaches because he disagreed with them trying to score in the final seconds of a game that was out of reach.

The foul on Kreiner was questionable, but considering it was a two-possession game with 21 seconds left, it's hard to argue that the foul call was the defining moment in the game. Melo Trimble led all scorers with 20 points and the freshman triumvirate of Justin Jackson, Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan combined for 32 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists.

Big man Damonte Dodd also finished with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

The Terrapins return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 24 when they host Rutgers at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md.

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Terps back in AP Top 25 as Big Ten sees major shake up

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USA Today Sports

Terps back in AP Top 25 as Big Ten sees major shake up

The Maryland Terrapins began the 2016-17 college basketball season as the No. 25 team in the country according the Associated Press Top 25 poll. But after a dicey season-opening win against American, the Terps fell from the rankings and had not cracked the top 25 since.

But thanks to a 75-72 victory over Indiana and a 62-56 victory on the road against Illinois, Maryland is back in the rankings as the No. 25 team in the country.

While the Terps sit at the bottom of the AP Top 25 poll, they currently sit at the top of the Big Ten rankings with a 4-1 record.

Wisconsin, the only other Big Ten team ranked in the AP Top 25 (No. 17) sits in second with a 3-1 conference record. Northwestern, a team that has never reached the NCAA Tournament, sits tied for third at 4-2 along with Michigan State.

Purdue and Indiana, two teams that spent much of the early season ranked in the poll, are now unranked with 3-2 and 2-3 records respectively.

The Terps continue to get major production from their trio of freshman Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan. The three combined for 37 of the Terps' 72 points against the Hoosiers and 27 of the Terps' 62 points against the Illini. Melo Trimble, who was named to the midseason Wooden Award Watch List, led the way with 18 points against the Hoosiers and 12 points against the Illini. 

The Terps travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7:00 p.m.

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 RANKINGS

1. Villanova (28): 17-1, 3
2. Kansas (32): 16-1, 2
3. UCLA (3): 18-1, 4
4. Gonzaga 2): 17-0, 5
5. Kentucky: 15-2, 6
6. Baylor: 16-1, 1
7. West Virginia: 15-2, 10
8. Creighton: 17-1, 8
9. North Carolina: 16-3, 11
10. Florida State: 16-2, 9
11. Oregon: 16-2, 13
12. Louisville: 15-3, 14
13. Butler: 15-3, 12
14. Arizona: 16-2, 16
15. Notre Dame: 16-2, 20
16. Virginia: 13-3, 19
17. Wisconsin: 14-3, 18
18. Duke: 14-4, 7
19. Florida: 14-3, 23
20. Cincinnati: 15-2, 22
21. Purdue: 14-4, 17
22. Xavier: 13-4, 15
23. Saint Mary's: 15-2, 21
24. South Carolina: 14-3, NR
25. Maryland: 16-2, NR