This season, Maryland has played and won a lot of very close games, many of which have been dependent upon the Terps making or preventing a last second shot; the double overtime win on the road against Michigan State; the last second put back by Dez Wells to squeeze by Northwestern, and several other games have given Maryland fans heart palpitations this season. It happened again Wednesday evening in their match-up against Indiana, as hotshot junior guard Yogi Ferrell missed a last-second three-point attempt, grabbed the offensive rebound, and then missed a jump shot that would have tied the game.
"First of all, that was a great college basketball game," Mark Turgeon said to lead off his press conference after Maryland's thrilling 68-66 win. "It was a great win for our team and I give Indiana a lot of credit. They were terrific and Yogi [Ferrell] was great."
For Maryland, it was a critically important win that keeps them tied with Ohio State for second place in the Big Ten. It also positions them to receive a double-bye in the rapidly approaching Big Ten Tournament, a luxury afforded to the top four teams.
"It's this league and everyone here in Maryland is learning that," Indiana head coach Tom Crean said when asked about Maryland's recent struggles. "This league is tremendous and this is not an anomaly. This is the way the league is all the time. It's why the Big Ten gets the credit it deserves and sometimes doesn't get enough credit because there is absolutely no team that you can look at and say ‘We're going to feel better after this; we can just bring our B game.' You can't, you have to bring it every night."
The game was not just important in the standings, but in Maryland's confidence, especially on offense. The team appeared to be in somewhat of a rut over their past four games on offense, struggling to score and get to the line like they were earlier in the year.
When asked about the importance of the win, Turgeon said, "It feels great. Our message to the team Sunday night was ‘What are you going to do to make your teammate better?' We talked about having a sense of urgency. We have been practicing great for about ten days now and eventually it will click during our games. We are just trying to make it a good year rather than a mediocre year and our guys are doing that."
"I told guys that we need them to be confident, poised and come in to play freely," senior Dez Wells said following the game. "Just play like you have nothing to lose. We needed players to get into the mindset to play freely, because that's what we had to do to play like we were at the beginning of the season."
Freshman guard Melo Trimble helped lead Maryland out of their offensive funk, as both he and Wells scored a team high 18 points against the Hoosiers. It was Trimble's second-straight game where he was able to consistently score from the field, following a brief 0-13 stretch in Maryland's games against Ohio State and Penn State. When asked about Trimble last night, Turgeon gave insight into why his freshman star might have been struggling recently.
"He was aggressive," Turgeon said. "Melo has been playing injured for about three games. We are getting healthy now and the guy got the best of him during our last game. Defensively, I thought Melo played Yogi [Ferrell] really well. What a great game."
Turgeon didn't elaborate on the injury, but it appears whatever was bothering Melo is no longer an issue, which is vital for Maryland as they enter the home stretch of their inaugural B1G season.
"I think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Turgeon said. "Our execution was good and we looked better. This is a tough week. We have a lot of games this week, including Penn State, who is a good team on Saturday night."
Maryland shot the ball particularly well from beyond the arc
During their recent offensive skid, Maryland was shooting under 30 percent as a team from beyond the arc. Last night, they made 47.6 percent (10-of-21) of their three-point attempts, which was their best three-point shooting performance since their last game against Indiana, when they were 10-of-20.
Damonte Dodd played his best game in weeks, but can continue to improve
While Dodd was 0-of-2 from the field, he contributed in a lot of other ways last night, including four blocks and three rebounds. He seemed much more active on setting screens and helping around the basket. Maryland is going to need to continue to get more production out of their front court players like Dodd, especially when it comes to offensive rebounding, where the Terps struggled again last night, securing just seven offensive boards compared to Indiana's 14.
Is Jared Nickens snapping out of his funk?
Nickens played 19 minutes last night and was 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. He once again looked deadly when shooting the ball from the corner last night. Maryland needs Nicken's production, whether he's starting or coming off the bench, especially when the Terps are facing zone defenses.