Maryland Stays Atop Big Ten with Win Over Rutgers
Terrapins guard #4 Kevin Huerter puts up a floater during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
COLLEGE PARK, MD - The No. 22 Maryland Terrapins are on a roll. As a matter of fact, the program is off to its best start in 18 years. Maryland (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten) topped Rutgers 67-55 before its home crowd of 17,950 Tuesday night at Xfinity Center. Melo Trimble led the way for Maryland, scoring 17 points.

“I don’t think any of us expected this. To be 18-2 and 6-1 in conference play — I didn’t expect it,” said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. “You have to win a lot of close games which I think we’ve done. The exciting thing for me is that we can get so much better. We can play better than we have been playing, starting with rebounding and taking care of the ball.”

Despite what its record may suggest, Maryland has been far from a perfect team. The Terrapins opened the game with a 7-2 lead but shot only 39 percent the entire half to keep Rutgers close. 

Rutgers (12-9, 1-7 Big Ten) who has only one win in its last eight contests took a one-point lead with two minutes remaining in the half over the Big Ten leading Terps but wouldn’t get close the rest of the night. Both teams hurt themselves in this one. The Terps committed 18 turnovers including 12 at halftime.

Even with the additional possessions, including 22 offensive rebounds, Rutgers—now 0-23 in Big Ten road games—couldn’t get its act together. Its offense was generated mainly by the backcourt.  Corey Sanders scored a team-high 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting and four turnovers, Nigel Johnson added 14 and Deshawn Freeman came off the bench to score 10 points and grab six rebounds. As a team, the Scarlet Knights shot 33.9 percent from the floor, 3-for-11 from beyond the arc and 10-for-24 from the free throw line.

Trimble had never missed a game in his collegiate career. Battling an illness through the weekend and into game day, the team was unsure if they would have their leader on the floor. However, Trimble was able play 34 minutes and be the difference maker in the win. He told reporters afterward, simply: When you get in the game, you don’t feel sick anymore.

Maryland erased Rutgers’ only lead of the game with a flurry of jumpers. Freshman Kevin Huerter, who scored 11 points in the contest, hit a jumper followed by assists on back to back 3-pointers by Trimble and L.G. Gill to close out the half on an 8-2 run and 34-29 Maryland lead.

Huerter got Maryland off with his playmaking in the second half opening with an assist for a Justin Jackson layup, followed by another mid-range jumper of his own. Rutgers would answer and close a once seven-point lead to three on a Johnson layup.

Maryland responded with an Anthony Cowan breakaway layup assisted by Trimble and a 3-pointer by Trimble assisted by Cowan. Maryland would push the lead out to double digits after a Huerter steal and 3-point hit, as he joined Trimble as the only two Terps to score in double figures in the matchup. Despite some sloppy play at times, the Terps managed 15 assists on 23 made field goals and shot 40 percent from three.

“Those are the kinds of stretches that if we want to win the game, we need to win those,” said Huerter. “That was good to go in to the half on the run that we did and then come out at the half and play pretty well too. So that was definitely big."

“On film, I think (Huerter) is the X factor for them,” said Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell. “First of all he is an outstanding passer. He has great size, he can make threes and he made some big ones tonight. That freshman class is really good. What I am most impressed with is that they play every night. It is a real consistent class. You don’t get that a lot out of freshman.

Maryland would extend the lead to as much as 17 and never let Rutgers, who has never won a road conference game, get to within nine points of the lead the remainder of the game.

Since joining the Big Ten, Maryland is now tied with Wisconsin for the most conference-game wins with 32. Rutgers is 4-42 during that same span since entering the Big Ten at the same time as Maryland. The Terps are 4-0 on the road this season and will travel to Minnesota on Saturday before traveling to Ohio State next week. Maryland atop the Big Ten faces a fading Minnesota Gopher (15-6, 3-5) team, losers of their last four at 2:15 pm EST.
 
Written by Teddy Owusu
 
Terrapins forward #21 Justin Jackson attempts a layup during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
 
Scarlet Knights forward #21 Candido Sa drives on Terrapins #21 Justin Jackson and #35 Damonte Dodd during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Players for both teams scramble for a loose ball during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Returning Terrapins forward #15 Michal Cekovsky secures an offensive rebound during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Terrapins guard #2 Melo Trimble surveys the defense during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Terrapins guard #4 Kevin Huerter puts up a floater during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Terrapins forward #21 Justin Jackson drives on Scarlet Knights defender #33 Deshawn Freeman during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Terrapins forward #35 Damonte Dodd looks to dump an interior pass during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Terrapins guard #4 Kevin Huerter gets the height advantage on his shot over two Scarlet Knights defenders during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Terrapins guard #4 Kevin Huerter scores on Scarlet Knights guard #5 Mike Williams during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Terrapins forward #35 Damonte Dodd forces Scarlet Knights guard #3 Corey Sanders to change direction during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Terrapins guard #0 Anthony Cowan defends against Scarlet Knights guard #3 Corey Sanders during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Terrapins forward #10 L.G. Gill reaches for a loose ball during Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox
 
Terrapins guard #2 Melo Trimble finishes strong in the waning seconds of Maryland's 67-55 victory over Rutgers at the XFinity Center in College Park, MD on January 24, 2017. David Lovell / DCSportsBox