COLLEGE PARK – A few weeks ago, some questioned the credibility of the University of Maryland’s men’s basketball team due to its lack of quality wins. Now, with victories over ranked teams such as Iowa and Purdue, the Terps have put all of those questions to bed and are looking like one of the most […]
COLLEGE PARK – A few weeks ago, some questioned the credibility of the University of Maryland’s men’s basketball team due to its lack of quality wins.
Now, with victories over ranked teams such as Iowa and Purdue, the Terps have put all of those questions to bed and are looking like one of the most battle-tested teams in the nation.
Maryland capped off a brutal four-game stretch on Saturday, beating No. 18 Purdue 72-61 to move to 21-3 on the season. After losing at Michigan State on Jan. 23, the Terps have reeled off wins over Iowa, Ohio State, Nebraska and now Purdue in the last two weeks. The win also bumps Maryland up to No. 2 in the country – tied for its highest rank ever.
“We did what we had to do,” said Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon. “Our post defense was terrific, our ball pressure was terrific, our rebounding keeps getting better, and our execution at the end was at a high level. We just keep figuring out ways to win.
“We are a tired basketball team. This has been a grind. I don’t know if anybody has had the four-game stretch that we have had on the road and traveling in such a short period of time. Hopefully this time will give us a chance to recoup and get better.”
Maryland jumped out to an early 10-4 lead, but went into the half down three after shooting less than 37 percent from the floor. Robert Carter Jr. was the team’s heartbeat in the first 20 minutes, hitting three three-pointers on his way to 11 points.
The second half was back-and-forth as well. The teams traded leads six times before Purdue finally took a 51-47 advantage with six minutes to go. However, it was then that the Terps showed why they are 19-2 in games decided by six points or less since last year.
Maryland responded to the moment and went on a 25-10 run to close out the game. The Terps’ defense held the Boilermakers to 4-for-11 shooting in that time and forced two turnovers. Meanwhile, Maryland’s offense was 4-for-6 from the field, 13-of-14 from the line, and did not turn the ball over. The Terps ended up shooting 24-of-27 from the charity stripe for the game.
“I’ve been doing this a really long time and I have had some really, really good defensive teams,” Turgeon said. “But right now we are playing at a level that I don’t know I have seen as a head coach. Everybody is buying in.”
Rasheed Sulaimon, who finished with a team-high 21 points and ten rebounds, said the team has the makeup to not fold during rough stretches of important games.
“Especially down the stretch, if the game is close, we just try to stay together and not splinter,” Sulaimon said. “We know we have the talent and the gifts at any given moment to make a spurt. Then we focus on getting defensive stops. We figure if we can do that then we can always stay in the game.”
Carter added 19 points, while Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone added 14 and 12 points respectively. Together they helped push Maryland’s home-court winning streak to 26 games.