Since the start of Big Ten play, Maryland has struggled at times on offense. They've been able to mostly overcome those struggles by getting to the free throw line and playing good defense, often utilizing both to grind out wins. Saturday against Michigan State, it appeared that those offense struggles were going to once again plague the Terps, as they scored just three points in the first four minutes of the game. But instead of mirroring what happened during their first meeting against Michigan State, when they scored just 17 first-half points, Maryland broke out and scored 40 in a half for just the second time since Big Ten play began back on December 30th.
"We executed better," head coach Mark Turgeon said following his team's 17th win of the season. "I thought the first five minutes I couldn't get them to execute and then we just started executing better. We've added offense. We didn't show it the other night, but we've added offense. We showed it tonight. We flowed better, we screened better and our offense executed better."
Maryland's 75 points represents their highest point output since scoring 82 against Winthrop back on December 6th.
"It feels great. We are just getting better," Turgeon said. "I keep telling everybody that this team is going to get better. Today was a step in the right direction. I think people are excited and they should be. They have a team that plays hard and plays together and tries to do the right thing."
Leading the offensive resurgence for the Terps was freshman phenom Melo Trimble, who finished the game with 24 points, three assists, a rebound and a steal. Trimble went 8 of 16 from the field, including 6 of 11 from beyond the arc.
"He's obviously one of the best players in the country right now," junior forward Jake Layman said following his team's win. "People are just starting to notice it now. He's been playing phenomenal for us and we wouldn't be where we are right now without Melo."
Trimble showed off several moves that left the capacity crowd at the XFINITY Center and those watching on television in awe, including this step back three to end the first half:
When asked about that shot by his star freshman before the half, Turgeon didn't seem surprised by what Trimble was able to do.
"I've seen Melo do that many times," Turgeon said. "It doesn't shock me and his confidence doesn't shock me. When you are playing in front of a crowd like tonight, how could you not be having fun? We talked about having fun all week and that's what we did tonight."
That three pointer capped of an impressive run for Trimble, as the Maryland point guard hit four three pointers in the last eight minutes of the half, finishing the first 20 minutes with 21 points.
"It was just fun," fellow freshman Jared Nickens said when asked about Trimble's first half outburst. "He was just in the zone and wanted to keep getting the ball and letting him keep doing what he was doing."
Nickens finished the game with eight points, a block and an assist.
While Trimble was grabbing all of the attention, junior forward Jake Layman quietly scored 23 points for Maryland, including 11 from the free throw line.
"I thought [Jake] was aggressive," Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said after his team's second loss of the season to Maryland. "He ended up 11-12 from the free throw line so he did a good job with that. I didn't think he was as aggressive the first game, but we had different lineups in the game so I think that hurt us. We were trying to guard him with smaller guys. When you get to the free throw line 12 times that means you're doing something right."
Layman also led all players with 12 rebounds, four of which were offensive.
"We had a good game, but we took advantage of some match-ups today," Turgeon said. "He was smart about it and what makes him look better is that he finishes his opportunities. His confidence and watching him play is a lot of fun. Just to watch him come out of his shell is great to see. That's why you coach and be part of these things."
While the Terps were doing good things offensively, they also did a good job on the defensive side of the ball as well.
"I thought defensively we were as good as we've been in a half," Turgeon said. "I though Dez Wells against Valentine was off the charts. It was one of Dez's best games. It was a great win. We were really good."
Valentine, who averages just less than 14 points per game, scored just nine points in 35 minutes on Saturday.
"It's a great win. Obviously, I'm really proud of my team, that's what I've been waiting for," Turgeon said. "I don't
think we've played our best basketball lately and our guys stepped up today and really played well."
With the win, Maryland moves back into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with a 5-1 conference mark and 17-2 overall record. Saturday's win means the Terps have already matched their entire win total from last season.
Next up for Maryland is a trip to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. You might recall this victory Maryland had against Indiana back in 2002: