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Maryland 70, Minnesota 58: 3 things we learned from the Terps' win

The Terps were hot with the 3-ball early and dominant inside throughout in a commanding conference home win over solid Minnesota.

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland's fantastic start to its first year of Big Ten conference competition continued on Saturday, when the Terps got off to a roaring start and never really looked back en route to a 70-58 home victory over a very solid Minnesota team.

Damonte Dodd had a breakout performance with career highs of nine points and 12 boards, while Melo Trimble (20 points), Dez Wells and Jake Layman (both with 12) all finished in double digits during an eye-popping win.

In front of a boisterous home crowd, Maryland started things off effectively enough, forcing a couple quick turnovers and getting five quick points on a Dez Wells steal-and-dunk and Jake Layman's 3-pointer.

Minnesota was undaunted, grabbing a 7-5 lead on a Carlos Morris floater, before Melo Trimble struck for his first 3 for an 8-7 Maryland lead. A nice sequence by the rapidly emerging Damonte Dodd ensued. The big fella blocked a shot on one end then drew a foul on the other, converting a free throw for a 9-7 lead, then grabbing another defensive board that led to a Wells 3 and a five-point edge.

The freshmen entered the game en masse five minutes in, and Dion Wiley quickly converted a 3-pointer, Maryland's third of the game, and Maryland was up 15-11. The defense broke down at about the same time though, the Gophers collected four largely uncontested points, and Turge quickly sent the starters back in —- but not before Jared Nickens buried Maryland's fifth 3 of the game for an 18-15 lead.

In fact, 15 of Maryland's first 18 points came via the deep ball, which Maryland converted at a 41.7-percent (5-for-12) clip through eight minutes.

Wiley hit his second 3, Pack followed with his first, and Maryland was 7-for-14 from beyond the arc after 11 minutes. Layman scored inside, Dodd hit two more free throws, and the Terps suddenly were up 30-17 thanks to 10 straight points.

Minnesota found its footing as the first half wound down, right while Maryland went cold for the first time. An agonizing seven-minute scoring drought saw the Gophers score 13 straight points and make it a 2-point game with 90 seconds to go before the intermission. Melo Trimble finally slashed in for a much-needed bucket with 40 seconds to go to end it, then Dodd powered one in 20 seconds later and the Terps were back in control.

So was Minnesota though, as Joey King's trey just before the buzzer made it a 3-point game, 36-33 at the half.

Trimble opened the second half with a quick J, but Minnesota answered and it was game on again. For a minute anyway. Maryland got rolling again, Trimble delivered five quick points including an and-1, Wells scored, and the Terps were up 10 again after a 9-2 run that forced a Gopher timeout.

Would Maryland be able to take better care of it's lead this time?

Yes.

Wells extended it with a soft 1-hander before Minnesota finally snapped what had become an 11-2 run with Carlos Morris's bucket. Pack made it 12 again with a pair of free throws.

The Gophers made their run again midway through the half with five unanswered points that cut the Terps' lead to seven, 49-42. Maryland, now in the bonus, ended it with a pair of Evan Smotrycz free throws, but Minnesota had stabilized and appeared confident again.

The Terps didn't cooperate, as Minnesota struggled from the line while Wells scored on the offensive glass on the other end to keep the lead at nine, 55-46, with 7:33 to go. After a timeout, Wells made it double-digits again with two more free throws.

Morris, who was easily Minny's best player in this game, cut it back to eight with a runner at the 6:30 mark. Pack hit a free throw, but Maurice Walker scored inside to cut it to seven, 58-51, with about six minutes to play.

King fouled out for the Gophers -- taking away one of their better outside threats -- and Trimble hit both free throws to open the advantage to nine.

Minnesota answered again, but so did Jake Layman with a really strong move into the lane that led to a floater and a 10-point lead, 63-53, with 3:37 to go.

Minnesota never really came up with a late rally and a Trimble layup with 1:17 to go after Layman's emphatic blocked shot pretty much sealed it.

The Terps are now 14-1 and 2-0 in the Big Ten even while having played two of the league's finest teams. They'll head off to Champaign brimming with confidence.

Three things we learned

1. Watch out for Damonte Dodd. What a find by Mark Turgeon out on the Eastern Shore! With each passing week, Dodd looks more and more like a giant, long, athletic freakshow of a defender, rebounder, shotblocker and all-around glue guy. In the first five minutes of the game, while Maryland was establishing an advantage, Dodd was all over the court. By the 15-minute mark and first timeout, he had 3 rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. Thirteen minutes in, he had 7 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks and 2 dimes. He was Maryland's leading scorer and rebounder at halftime, with 9 and 7, respectively. He was running the floor and diving for loose balls. He was changing Minnesota shots left and right. He was freaking 3-for-4 at the line. He was everywhere! Foul trouble during a more tightly called second half slowed Maryland's center down, but his game-changing statement was already made. Dodd's year-over-year improvement at this point is pretty astronomical. He's got above average NBA size and athleticism and he isn't exactly limited when you think about the type of hand-and-foot coordination necessary to develop create-your-own shot ability. Could Damonte Dodd become an NBA lottery pick someday? I mean it might be a longshot at this point, but the tools are absolutely there. You can't rule it out.

2. This Terps team can hurt you in so many different ways. Maryland looked unbeatable for much of the first half even while Pack, Smotrycz, Trimble and Layman were all pretty quiet. Think about that for a second. Four of your best shooters and scorers are taking a backseat but you still have 36 points on 46.4 percent shooting. Now that Dodd has officially had a breakout game, there are no less than eight guys (Trimble, Wells, Layman, Pack, Wiley, Nickens, Smotrycz, Dodd) who could go for double digits on any given night without it being much of a surprise. And let's not write off Cekovsky just yet either. Who would've thought that losing so many key rotation guys to transfer after last season would've led to Maryland having its deepest team in years? No offense, Nick, Seth, Shaq, Chuck & Roddy, but this "addition by subtraction" thing is real. Best of luck to y'all though. Really.

3. Just when you thought Maryland was a perimeter team, the Terps utterly dominated the paint. Maryland finished this game with a 44-35 rebounding advantage and 9 blocked shots compared to 4 for Minnesota. It was a great collective effort, led largely by Dodd but let's not forget Wells, a very underrated rebounder who grabbed seven, and Jonathan Graham, a personal favorite of mine who just won't go away despite his limitations and played with great energy on the way to five boards. Trimble, who does absolutely everything a freshman point guard could possibly do, grabbed six rebounds. Finally, Jake Layman is a for-real forward now after two years of development. He didn't light the world on fire offensively, but he scored when it mattered, defended the paint and rebounded too, with six. Maryland shoots a bunch of 3s, but is not a live-or-die-by-the-3 team. The Terps absolutely crushed a very good Big Ten team in the paint.