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Terps prepare to face George Mason

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Terps prepare to face George Mason

Maryland impressed in their last game, a 77-57 victory over Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Terps simply outclassed the Wildcats in a dominant second half.

Even in a season opening loss to Kentucky, the Terps have looked sharp for most of their non-conference schedule, running to a 5-1 record through November. On Sunday, Maryland should face its last true non-conference test, with a neutral court game against George Mason.

Though Mason plays in the CAA and Maryland the ACC, DC locals and college basketball fans need no introduction to the Fairfax, Va., school. George Mason made its name known across the country in 2006 with a run to the Final Four that included wins over college basketball bluebloods like UConn., Michigan State and North Carolina.

Mason's success came under former coach Jim Larranaga -- who bolted to the University of Miami prior to last season -- but Mason coach Paul Hewitt has plenty of NCAA experience.

As coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hewitt led his 2004 Jackets team to the NCAA championship game. Last season Hewitt led the Patriots to a 24-9 season, though the team was left out of the NCAA Tournament.

This game will be key for Hewitt and Maryland coach Mark Turgeon as they work to guide their teams back into the NCAA Tournament. Non-conference wins play a key part in tournament selection, and a win for either squad would be a boost for their resume come March.

After playing arguably its best 20 minutes of basketball in the second half at Northwestern, the Maryland team has momentum.

Center Alex Len continues to garner serious NBA Draft buzz, while sophomore transfer Dez Wells really showed his capabilities with 23 points against the Wildcats. The Terps look to have depth and frontcourt size befit of a Top 20 team, and a win over an always-pesky Mason squad could show that to poll voters.

Led by junior guard Sherrod Wright, Mason will be a tough opponent for the Terps.

Wright averages almost 15 points on the season, not to mention the 6'4" guard hauls in about five rebounds a game. Mason already registered a win over an ACC opponent earlier this year, beating UVa. in the season opener.

Mason will not come into this game intimidated by the Terps, and it will be interesting to see how Maryland’s young team responds to the challenge.

Maryland should enjoy a noticeable size advantage over the Patriots, who are led down low by 6'8" big man Eric Copes.

With Len at 7'1" and three big forwards in James Padgett, Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare, the Terps can play an aggressive style around the basket. A key to Maryland's early success has been winning the rebounding battle; something the team has done in impressive fashion every game this season.

Mason will have to make outside shots early to free up space in the middle, otherwise Maryland's big men could take over. With Wright at the helm Mason could have the advantage from the outside, though Maryland guard Pe'Shon Howard has been playing improved defense this season.

With a vocal crowd expected and fans of both schools on hand at the Verizon Center, the game could resemble an early-round NCAA Tournament matchup. A preview of a postseason experience both teams would like to achieve. 

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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.