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For Terps, Nick Faust a key player

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For Terps, Nick Faust a key player

With the game still very much in question, Maryland’s Nick Faust threw down a ferocious tomahawk dunk to take a 51-47 lead over George Mason.

Faust’s dunk came with about eight minutes left in the second half at a perilous time for the Terps. George Mason was outhustling the Terps, fighting for loose balls and long rebounds, and Maryland needed a spark.

The dunk got the VerizonCenter crowd on their feet and the Terps never again trailed.

“I thought the crowd was loud,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “When Nick dunked it and we were playing soft, we needed them, they were great.”

Maryland’s victory over George Mason (5-3) will not go down in history -- it was a sloppy game with poor shooting on both sides – but Faust’s contributions were key for the win.

Dez Wells is working his way towards stardom for Maryland (6-1). He dropped 23 points in the Terps win over Northwestern, and followed that up with 25 against Mason.

While Wells may make the highlight reel more often, Faust’s steady play and defensive presence has become crucial for Maryland during the team’s current six-game winning streak.

“Nick’s not caught up in scoring right now,” Turgeon said after the win over Mason. “He’s caught up in winning.”

Winning will be much easier for Maryland when Faust and Wells complement one another. In the Mason game, Faust finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. Faust also missed a few layups and turned the ball over twice.

Wells flashed his dominant scoring ability against Mason, but he also led the Terps in the turnover category with five. At times, Wells was the best player on the court for Maryland, while at other times he was an asset for Mason.

Considering both Wells and Faust have a slasher’s game and a similar frame, much of Maryland’s tournament chances depend on how the two guards can play with one another. Center Alex Len will be Maryland’s highest NBA draft pick in some years, but Faust and Wells may determine the type of season Maryland has.

After the loss to Kentucky in the season opener, Faust explained that Turgeon sat him down for a conversation about what his role would be on this Maryland team.

“He basically just told me, ‘keep making the right play.’ Sometimes I don’t have to force it,” Faust said of his talk with the coach. “So lately I’ve just been doing whatever I can, helping my team win.”

Asked about what playing with Wells is like, Faust smiled.

 “It’s easy. The last two games Dez has been hitting nonstop,” Faust said. “I’ve just been milking him and making my plays when I need to.”

For a young Maryland team fighting through some growing pains, Faust and Wells will be very important pieces if the team is to make the NCAA Tournament.

“Our guys respect what each guy can do on our team,” Turgeon said. “Therefore, they like each other. I think we’re going to be a good team because of it.”

The dynamic between Wells and Faust looks to be built on a solid foundation.

“Having [Wells] there is definitely helping us as a team and getting me easy points,” Faust said. “We play off one another. I’m just trying to make the right play.”

How far the Terps can go remains to be see, but through seven games they’ve shown enough for Turgeon to be encouraged.

“We’re not there yet,” the coach said, “but I think we have a chance to be a good team down the road.”

 

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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

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Maryland overcomes cold start to top Illinois on the road

Maryland overcomes cold start to top Illinois on the road

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Anthony Cowan scored a career-high 19 points and led Maryland to a 62-56 win over Illinois on Saturday.

Maryland (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten) faced a better team than the one it dominated early in the season, but a sloppy second half from the Illini allowed the Terrapins to come back and hold off the Illini in the final five minutes.

The Terrapins had a cold start, including a 3-for-13 first half from beyond the arc, but Maryland responded to shoot 43 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range to make up for earlier mistakes.

Shooting wasn't the only offensive area where Maryland controlled the pace, as the Terrapin bigs held a 32-14 advantage in the paint.

Melo Trimble and Jaylen Brantley each added 12 points.

Maverick Morgan led the way for Illinois (12-6, 2-3 Big Ten) with 15 points and five rebounds.

The Illini got production from numerous different players but inconsistency in the second half, including a scoring drought that last longer than seven minutes, stalled Illinois from holding on to a lead that was as large as 11.

Leron Black scored 14 points and added nine rebounds.