Maryland tops UVa 27-20

uspw_6655016.jpg

Maryland tops UVa 27-20

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Stefon Diggs returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and fellow freshman Perry Hills threw for one TD and ran for another as Maryland defeated Virginia 27-20 in Atlantic Coast Conference action on Saturday, extending the Cavaliers' losing streak to five.

The kickoff return started a disastrous first quarter that put Virginia (2-5, 0-3) in a 17-point hole it could never climb out of, despite moving the ball well at times and rallying behind backup quarterback Michael Rocco.

Rocco came on in relief of a struggling Phillip Sims in the fourth quarter with the Cavaliers down 27-13 and promptly directed a 10-play, 81-yard drive. His 24-yard touchdown pass to Jake McGee pulled Virginia within 27-20 with 4:10 left.

But that was all the magic Rocco could muster. After a three-and-out by Maryland, the Cavaliers got the ball back at the Terrapins' 49 with 1:51 left but four Rocco passes fell incomplete.

The Cavaliers, down 7-0, had their first possession ended when Anthony Nixon intercepted a Sims pass and returned it to the Virginia 32. Five plays later, Hills connected on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Justus Pickett to put Maryland ahead 14-0 less than five minutes into the game.

Virginia pinned the Terrapins at their own 2, but a 27-yard pass from Hills to Kevin Dorsey got Maryland out of trouble. On the next play, Diggs caught a pass and appeared to be hemmed in, but he reversed his field and wove his way down the right side for 60 yards. After two running plays lost yardage, the Terrapins settled for Brad Craddock's 33-yard field goal to make it 17-0 with 4:59 left in the quarter.

Maryland's big pass plays negated a stellar effort by Virginia's run defense. The Terrapins had zero yards rushing in the first half.

Sims, the Alabama transfer making his second start for the Cavaliers, had a rough outing. He had at least three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, and he lost a fumble on a sack at the Virginia 15 in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers were trying to come back from an 11-point deficit.

The Cavaliers continued to struggle converting points when they got the chance. After kicker Drew Jarrett's line-drive field goal attempt was blocked, he was replaced by Ian Frye who was good from 20 yards on his first career try to cut Maryland's lead to 17-3 at the half.

Virginia dodged a bullet in the third quarter when Maryland's Matt Furstenburg dropped a sure touchdown pass, and Craddock's field goal attempt clanked off the left upright.

After the teams traded three-and-outs, Virginia cut the margin to 17-10 on Sims' 20-yard touchdown pass to a well-covered E.J. Scott, who caught the ball falling down in the back corner of the end zone.

On the next play, Virginia's Will Hill recovered a Hills fumble at the Virginia 31. The Cavaliers reached the Maryland 3, but Sims' third-down lob to tight end Jake McGee was incomplete and Virginia settled for Frye's 22-yard field goal.

A personal foul penalty against Virginia after the field goal forced the Cavaliers to kick off from their 20, and Diggs' return put the Terrapins in business at the Virginia 47. A 22-yard pass from Hills to Furstenburg set up Hills' 6-yard touchdown run to make it 24-13.

Maryland added a 28-yard Craddock field goal after the Sims fumble.

Layman responds to biggest criticism during time at Maryland

gilldraftturgeon052616refframe_1.jpg

Layman responds to biggest criticism during time at Maryland

If there was one overriding criticism of Jake Layman during his time at Maryland, it was that the 6-9 native of Massachusetts had a tendency to fade into the background when surrounded by other talented players.

Through his first two years at Maryland, Dez Wells was the focal point. His junior year, it was Wells and freshman Melo Trimble. As a senior, it was Trimble, Rasheed Sulaimon, Robert Carter, Jr., and Diamond Stone -- at least for the season’s first half.

As Layman prepares for the 2016 NBA Draft, he spoke with Matt McGann of DraftExpress.com to address that criticism.

“I think the second half of the year for me I was showing how much more aggressive I can be and that’s just carried over into this part of my training right now,” he said. “I think in pickup I’m being aggressive handling the ball, getting the ball off rebounds, going on the fastbreak, so I think all those things are kind of what teams are looking for from me.”

MORE TERPS: 3 CHALLENGES TRIMBLE WILL FACE DURING JUNIOR YEAR

In support of Layman, there was absolutely a difference in how he played to begin the season and how he finished it.

With Trimble struggling down the stretch over the final month, Layman helped the Terrapins to a win over Michigan, almost helped them steal one on the road at Purdue, and helped lock up a must-win game against Illinois at home.

He then dropped 26 points on Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament. Against Michigan State in the next round, he got in something of a scuffle, which included exchanging words with Spartans star Denzel Valentine. He dropped 27 on South Dakota State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The aggressiveness is a nice asset, but in reality, Layman will likely be asked to do at the NBA level more or less what he did at Maryland -- defend multiple positions, hit open shots, and rebound the ball.

If he does all of those things, he can stick on a roster and contribute.

Report: Maryland's matchup set in 2016 Barclays Center Classic

gilldraftturgeon052616refframe_1.jpg

Report: Maryland's matchup set in 2016 Barclays Center Classic

After news was reported last fall that Maryland would take place in the 2016 Barclays Center Classic alongside Boston College, Kansas State, and Richmond, we now reportedly have matchups.

According to Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com, Maryland will face Richmond and Boston College will face Kansas State in the event's first round. 

Richmond finished the 2015-16 season with an overall record of 16-16. Two of the team's top three scorers from last season are set to return next season.

3 challenges Melo Trimble faces by returning to Maryland

gilldraftturgeon052616refframe_1.jpg

3 challenges Melo Trimble faces by returning to Maryland

Melo Trimble, by many estimations, made the "right" decision by returning to Maryland for his junior season.

Of course, there could be any number of unforeseen circumstances in the future that could change that opinion, but given the current set of conditions, he returns to a team that could legitimately make the NCAA tournament with another year to prove to NBA scouts that he can play at the next level.

But there are still challenges ahead for Trimble. Here are three of them. 

RELATED: TRIMBLE SAVED FROM UNFAIR, INEVITABLE CRITICISM

1) Less on-paper talent than the 2015-16 team

Mark Turgeon made two enormous, late-signing period splashes last year by landing five-star center Diamond Stone, then Rasheed Sulaimon from Duke as a graduate transfer. That helped to solidify a starting five that already included Trimble, then-senior Jake Layman, and Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter, Jr.

The Terrapins had arguably the most purely talented starting five in the country. The attention on a given night was off of Trimble in a way because on any given night any one of those five players could carry the offensive load. It will be on Trimble during his junior season.

The starting five likely projects something like this (with some variation, depending on how Turgeon wants to utilize his guard and wing depth): PG: Melo Trimble | SG: Dion Wiley | SF: Jared Nickens | PF: L.G. Gill | C: Damonte Dodd.

Freshman guard Anthony Cowan will assuredly be in the mix, but that still pins most all of the offensive pressure on Trimble. Can he thrive when he is the focal point of the defense's game plan? 

Wiley, Nickens, and Gill hitting their shots would help. But who becomes the reliable pick-and-roll options like Carter and Stone were last season?

 RELATED: MARYLAND ADDS 4-STAR LATE IN SPRING PERIOD

2) The foul problem

Throughout the 2015-16 season, Turgeon mentioned whenever he could the fact that Trimble was getting to the rim at the same rate that he was his freshman season, but not getting foul calls at the same rate. That meant the same wear and tear on his body, but without the benefit of an efficient scoring line to go with it. 

Turgeon would never publicly, explicitly pin it on the referees, but look at the difference between Trimble's average field goal attempts as a sophomore during Big Ten play (4.4) and during the NCAA tournament (10.6). That cannot all be accounted for by saying he got to the basket more often in the tournament. 

Because Trimble hits at such a high rate from the free-throw line (86.8 percent), he becomes lethal in the pick-and-roll because he can hit shots if the defense goes under a screen, pass to an open man if they hedge out, or drive past and draw a foul if they go over. 

No fouls in the lane? Less effective pick-and-roll for a player who feasts in that set. What indicates that something will change when he is a junior?

RELATED: HOW TURGEON CELEBRATED THE NEWS

3) The looming 2017 NBA Draft

By returning to Maryland, Trimble buys himself time and gives himself an opportunity to show what he can do during his junior season in hopes that he returns to a form closer to what we saw in 2014-15 or early 2015-16. 

That will all build up likely to the 2017 NBA Draft, assuming Trimble enters. He has questions that he now has to answer and some things that will be real concerns.

He will be 22 years old at the time of next year's draft. Only three players projected to be taken in the first round of this year's draft, according to DraftExpress.com's current mock, will be 22 years of age or older on draft night -- Oklahoma's Buddy Hield, Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, and Providence's Kris Dunn.

Player of the Year finalist. Player of the Year finalist. Projected lottery pick back in 2015 who decided to stay anyway.

That's tough company to break into for Trimble and it speaks to the type of junior season he would have to have to get into the first round. 

And the foundation of his overall game won't be changing. His length will still be subpar, compared to his peers, at next year's Combine. It's unlikely that his max vertical will improve by much, which means he'll have to answer those questions another way -- simply by playing basketball. 

Master the pick-and-roll. Shoot a high percentage from three. Get back to the line at a high rate. That should be the formula for Trimble.