It's hard to believe that it has been 36 days since the Maryland Terrapins last won on the road. Since their last victory away from the Xfinity Center, when they defeated Purdue 69-60 on Jan. 10, the Terps have not only been winless on the road, they've been blown out, losing by an average of 19.6 points. They've especially struggled on offense, scoring just more than 60 points per game and twice being held to less than 60 points. That's why Saturday's win against the Nittany Lions was so important for Maryland. Not only did they pick up a much needed road win, but they continued their recent offensive renaissance, scoring 76 points while shooting 48.9 percent from the field and putting up an ORtg of 110.1.
"We had a meeting last night talking about where we started at Oklahoma State and how well we played, why we played well and we have had some pretty good road wins," head coach Mark Turgeon said following his team's win, their 21st of the season. "If you look at it, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Purdue, and I think I am forgetting one. We are 3-4 on the road I think, which isn't bad in the league for a team that was picked 10th and have a lot of new guys. We have a chance to finish strong, which is really what is important. It was more mental. We took Thursday off because it was such an emotional game and probably practiced 45 minutes yesterday because we had to travel with the weather and the snow. We had a little bit longer shoot around today and had some fun with shooting contests. The guys were pretty determined to get this one."
The 76 points the Terps scored against Penn State were the second most they've put up away from home this season; their highest output came when they scored 78 in their win against Arizona State on a neutral court back in November. In terms of true road games, Saturday's output was arguably Maryland's best since their 80-60 win against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Feb. 1 of last year.
"You can see our offense coming," Turgeon said. "We shot 50 percent Wednesday, I think 49 percent tonight so it's getting better. Penn State's a really good defensive team especially in this building, so to score 76 points means our offense is good and it had to be good because they made a lot of shots tonight."
With all of the players in their rotation healthy, Maryland once again relied on their "big three" of Melo Trimble, Dez Wells and Jake Layman to carry the team. Those three combined to score 55 of Maryland's 76 points while grabbing 16 of their 28 rebounds.
"Jake hit the big shot in the lane to go up six and it's really a good feeling when you have three guys you can go to," Turgeon said when asked about his players. "Some guys have one, some guys have zero and I have three guys I can go to. I have a card with eight plays that we can call for any one of them. They [Penn State] did a good job against Dez on the block. I thought Jake made big shots, Melo was terrific, and Dez was Dez so they have been the big three for us carrying us offensively."
While Maryland performed much better on offense, they continued to struggle on the offensive glass, where they pulled down just two offensive rebounds and scored only five second-chance points. Following last night's win, Maryland's offensive rebounding percentage dropped to 251st nationally, according to KenPom. In conference play, Maryland ranks 10th best among the 14 Big Ten teams in offensive rebounding percentage. While Maryland has done remarkably well without the five players who transferred from the program following last season, they've really struggled to replace Charles Mitchell's production on the offensive glass. At Georgia Tech this season, Mitchell has the seventh best offensive rebounding percentage in the nation this season.
With their recent slump appearing to be behind them, Maryland can now focus on three straight home games before closing out the season with two games on the road. After facing Nebraska Thursday, the Terps will host first-place Wisconsin the following Tuesday and welcome Michigan to College Park Saturday, Feb. 28. Maryland closes out the season with road games against Rutgers and Nebraska. Maryland has an opportunity to go 4-1 during the stretch, with Wisconsin being by far the most difficult opponent remaining on their schedule. If Maryland can continue to execute like they have on offense, they could complete their first B1G season with a 25-6 (13-5 B1G) regular season record. That would be their best regular season record since the 2001-02 national title season, when they finished with a 25-3 regular season record. It would also position them for a double-bye in their first Big Ten Conference tournament.