The University of Maryland men’s basketball team began its inaugural season of Big Ten basketball by traveling to Michigan State on Dec. 30. After an ugly first half in which both teams struggled to shoot and take care of the basketball, Maryland survived falling behind, and managed to force overtime when Dez Wells tied the game by hitting a three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in regulation. The Terrapins used 13 of 16 shooting from the free throw line in overtime to hang on for a 68-66 win in a double-overtime classic. On Jan. 17, the Spartans made their first Big Ten regular-season visit to College Park.
Melo Trimble went eight of 16 from the floor, including six of 11 from the three-point line, for a game-high 24 points, and Jake Layman added a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds as number 14 Maryland swept the season series from Michigan State with a 75-59 win. The Terps (17-5, 5-1 Big Ten) now sit atop the Big Ten standings.
With the sellout crowd of 17,950 into it from even before the starting lineups were announced, both teams went scoreless for nearly the first two minutes of the game before Layman set up Melo Trimble for a three to open the scoring. Michigan State used an 8-0 run over a three- minute stretch to take a 10-5 lead, but Maryland used defense to start a run of its own. The Terps forced four turnovers and Trimble knocked down three straight threes during a 19-4 run to take a 24-14 lead with just under seven minutes left in the first half. Trimble scored 13 points during the run, and finished the first half with five three-pointers and 21 points to lead all scorers to give Maryland a 40-26 halftime lead. He capped the first half by crossing up his defender and then draining a three off the dribble before his teammates mobbed him going into the locker room.
“For some reason, Jake was higher. Normally he’s in the corner, but he was higher up on the other side of the court. Damonte (Dodd) was coming to set a screen, but it was too slow, so I just told him to go back, and I decided to take my man one- on-one. If I didn’t have it, to kick it out to Jake. I freed up and shot the ball,” Trimble said. “I never made someone fall. I never made a move like that before in my life, so I was pretty excited myself. I didn’t know what to do.”
Jared Nickens started the second half with a pair of threes in the first four minutes of the half to give Maryland a 46-33 lead. The Terrapins continued to pull away as Wells hit a three set up by Trimble, and Evan Smotrycz drove in for a pair of layups to give Maryland a 57-40 lead at the under-12 media timeout. Trimble’s sixth three extended the lead to 20 with 11 minutes left, and Maryland never looked back, in spite of being called for 11 fouls in the second half. Michigan State wasn’t able to take advantage, going just two of 10 from the free throw line after halftime. The Spartans (12-6, 3-2 Big Ten) were just four of 13 from the line for the game, while Maryland went 20 of 22. While giving the Terrapins credit for how they played, Spartans head coach Tom Izzo was very unhappy with how his team played.
“I thought we were awful. We didn’t make layups, we didn’t guard, and I thought this was one of the better performances by Maryland,”
Izzo said. “Take nothing away from them, but that was an inept performance by us on a big stage, and that doesn’t happen very often, and that falls on me.” Only two Spartans players scored in double figures, and the starting guards combined for only 14 points. Izzo said his team took itself out of the game, along with Maryland’s defense.
Meanwhile, Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said this type of a performance by his team was a long time coming.
“That’s what I’ve been waiting for. We haven’t, I don’t think, played our best basketball recently, and our guys stepped up…and really played well. Melo and Jake carried us offensively in the first half,” Turgeon said, adding that this wasn’t the first time he’s seen Trimble take over a game like he did. He also praised Wells for his defense on the Spartans’ Denzel Valentine.
Maryland appeared to show more patience and a better shot selection than in previous games. The team wasn’t rushing to put up threes or difficult, challenged shots early in the shot clock. Layman says showing more patience on offense was critical. “It was one of our keys to the game was make them guard us, and not to shoot quick.” Layman said. “So I think in the first half we did a great job with moving the ball around and finding the open guy.” However, he said the team got away from that slightly in the second half. During the under-eight minute media timeout in the first half, former Head Coach Gary Williams was presented with a commemorative painting during an on-court ceremony. Williams was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August, as well as the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in November. He’s now part of the leadership team of Maryland’s Division of University Relations, and is in charge of fundraising for the Terrapin Club Scholarship Fund. A tribute video was played on the scoreboard that featured remarks from some of Williams’ former players, as well as opposing coaches, such as Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Roy Williams of North Carolina, and Izzo.