The Maryland basketball team is coming off a win against Rutgers in which they didn’t play their best basketball.
Now the Terrapins must travel to Minnesota for a matchup with a group that is in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
Things are the exact opposite for Maryland, who is playing some of the best basketball in the Big Ten. The Terps currently sit atop the conference with a 6-1 mark in the Big Ten with Wisconsin boasting the very same mark.
Tuesday’s game had a lot of uncertainty because it was unknown if star guard Melo Trimble would be able to play. Trimble had missed Monday’s practice due to an illness.
Trimble did end up playing and turned out to be Maryland’s saving grace. He scored a game-high 17 points (5-of-8 shooting) while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out four assists.
It was the first time in the last six games that Trimble shot above 50 percent from the field.
Maryland needed every bit of that offense due to the struggles of Trimble’s backcourt mate Anthony Cowan. Cowan had one of the worst offensive performance of his young Terp career against the Scarlet Knights.
Cowan shot just 1-of-7 from the floor and scored just three points. The Terps did get a lift from Kevin Huerter, who may have played his most complete game of the season.
Huerter added 11 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in 34 minutes. He was the only Maryland player besides Trimble to log over 30 minutes.
Maryland did play great defense, especially in the second half. They were able to limit Rutgers to just 33.9 percent from the field throughout the course of the game.
Keys to the game
1.) Take smart shots – It may come as a surprise, but Minnesota is holding opponents to the second-lowest field goal percentage in the Big Ten at a 38.9 percent clip. The Golden Gophers are also are yielding just a 29.6 percent shooting percentage from three. Considering Maryland can really knock down shots when they’re on, this will be a storyline to watch. The likes of Trimble, Huerter, and Jackson can really be lethal, but it’s going to come down to taking good shots and not just the first available shot.
2.) Get offensive rebounds – This Minnesota team really is no slouch. They really get after it on defense as they grab the second-most defensive rebounds (28.4) in the conference. The Golden Gophers have seven players that average at least three rebounds per game. Jordan Murphy can be a handful inside at times, so Maryland is going to have to be aggressive and grab their fair share of offensive boards.
3.) Winning the backcourt battle – This is easily the biggest strength for both teams. Amir Coffey, Nate Mason, and Dupree McBrayer all average double figures for Minnesota. On the other hand, Cowan and Trimble are one of the most productive duos in the Big Ten. Cowan allows Trimble to have more time as a scorer when he’s coming off the ball. Trimble will also have revenge on the mind as Maryland lost in Minnesota last season. He only scored 10 points in last year’s loss.
Players to watch
Nate Mason (guard) – Mason is easily the most dangerous player on Minnesota’s roster. He’s a high-volume shooter that can knock down his fair share from the outside. He’s a 39.7 percent shooter from three on the season while also being able to get to the rim. Slowing down Mason goes a long way towards slowing down the Gophers.
Jordan Murphy (forward) – Murphy is Minnesota’s biggest threat on the interior. The sophomore forward is a high-energy guy that can finish at the rim, but doesn’t have a ton of range. Rebounding is where Murphy is a difference maker as he averages 7.7 per contest.
Amir Coffey (guard) – Coffey is a long guard that can do a little bit of everything. He’s almost the Minnesota version of Kevin Huerter, but Coffey doesn’t shoot as well from beyond the arc. Coffey really thrives when attacking the basket and can finish. He has the speed to get out in transition and also forces 1.2 steals per contest. This is one of the few who could rival Cowan for the Big Ten’s most impressive freshman.
Heading into this year’s game, Maryland is a completely different squad. They were coming off a loss to Wisconsin and Trimble was playing some of the worst basketball of his career. Chemistry is also not an issue with this year’s team.
Minnesota is sliding big-time and it’s going to take a huge effort to knock off Maryland. The Terps are polar opposites as they’ve won their last five games. Maryland is playing too well right now, so they win 76-62.