The Terrapins entered Tuesday night’s matchup against Indiana with a chance to avenge a frustrating loss to Nebraska in their previous home game, and they did just that.
In their first monumental Big Ten showdown of the season, Maryland traded baskets with the Hoosiers throughout a competitive first half. As the normally explosive backcourt duo of Trimble and Cowan got off to somewhat of a slow start, forward Justin Jackson’s solid play helped keep the Terrapins afloat with eight points and five rebounds through the first half. The key performance through the first 20 minutes, however, was the imposing paint presence of Damonte Dodd’s physical play. Dodd tallied five blocks in the first half, setting the physical tone and letting Indiana’s post players know this wouldn’t be the Nebraska game all over again.
Coach Turgeon seconded that mentality.
“We’re getting tougher. The last two games we’ve played with much more toughness. The slap in the face–that Nebraska game–kind of woke us all up, and we knew we needed to be tougher, and so we have been.” Turgeon also praised Dodd for his performance against a Hoosiers squad that ranked fourth in rebounding entering Tuesday night’s game. “Damonte was terrific. [We were undersized] so Damonte had to play and he had to play well. He was great–stayed on his feet on pump fakes–he was terrific.”
As overplayed as it may seem to some, the toughness mentality is a substantially crucial one, particularly in the physical Big Ten conference. Although Maryland certainly looked undersized at times, as Turgeon admitted, the team also showed better box-out technique against a physical front in the second half, which is something they’ll certainly have to strut more frequently come March.
Melo Trimble also recognized the need for his team to be more tenacious on the glass in their premier Big Ten matchup. “We knew how important it was for us to box out and rebound. They had 13 offensive rebounds in the first half and that wasn’t good enough. Coach said if they have 13 in the second half we can’t win. It meant a lot,” said Trimble. Indiana had just two offensive rebounds in the second half.
As the latter part of the second half played out, guards Melo Trimble and freshman Anthony Cowan seemed to have found their form. Trimble had a typical Trimble game. Eight of his 18 points came from the foul line, but was only 5-16 from the field. Having a dynamic guard counterpart like Cowan has helped compensate for that inefficiency, as Cowan was a solid 6-9 from the field, adding 15 points to the tandem’s effort.
Freshman guard Kevin Huerter contributed 11 points on 4-8 shooting (3-6 from three-point range).
It’s now back to the road for Maryland. The Terrapins will travel to the Midwest, as they’ll face the Fighting Illini this Saturday, Jan. 14 at the State Farm Center.
Ben Holmes is a sports reporter and producer for CBS Sports Radio in Baltimore MD. He covers Maryland Terrapins Basketball and Football for Baltimore’s 105.7 The Fan. You can follow Ben on twitter@HolmesOnSports.