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Maryland basketball looks for strong closing act vs. Nebraska

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For the No. 10 Terrapins, the lead-up to Sunday's game against Nebraska has been an exercise in self-motivation.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Every game matters, but the No. 10 Maryland men's basketball team will probably never play one that matters less than the one scheduled for Sunday night at Nebraska. The Terrapins are locked into the second seed and a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament, which starts next week, so all a loss against the Cornhuskers would do to Maryland is drop the Terps from, say, a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament to a No. 4. That's unless Maryland goes on a run in the conference tournament, in which case even a season-worst loss to Nebraska could be rendered mostly moot.

From there, though, every game Maryland plays will be highly consequential, even make-or-break. The Terps have set out to instill that mentality – or something close to it – for Sunday's regular season finale.

"I think it's pretty easy, because I just get after them in practice pretty hard," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said.

In particular, Turgeon said Maryland wants to finish with a record above .500 on the road in league play. A win Sunday would accomplish that, with Maryland currently sitting at 4-4 in conference away games.

"We've talked about, when this week started, the selection committee likes road wins," Turgeon said. "We've got a chance to get two this week, so we got one [on Tuesday against Rutgers], and we've got another opportunity at Nebraska on Sunday. You're always just trying to win as many games as you can, be as good of a team as you can. So, we'll see."

It hasn't been long since Maryland and Nebraska last saw each other. The Terps scurried away from the decidedly pesky Huskers for a four-point home win on Feb. 19, at a time when Maryland had lost three recent games and didn't look like nearly the team it looks like now. As it turns out, the Terps haven't lost since.

"Nothing changes," forward Jon Graham said. "Every game is important. We want to finish out with the best regular season possible."

Turgeon said he has no plans to rest guard Melo Trimble or any of Maryland's other top contributors. Trimble had a challenging night against Rutgers, shooting just 3-of-13 from the field en route to 10 points. The Terps need Trimble to be at his best in postseason play to have any serious designs on championships, so Sunday could be an important tune-up for him as much as anything.

"This guy's been nothing short of unbelievable. He's only going to get better. The sky's the limit for him," Graham said. "But again, he is a rookie, he's going to have rookie mistakes. It's just natural."

Richaud Pack, the senior guard who often pairs with Trimble in Maryland's backcourt, said that even in the midst of Trimble's unsightly efficiency numbers against Rutgers, the freshman didn't play a poor game.

"A lot of the times, I think it looks like he's struggling, but he's not, if that makes sense," Pack said. "He's missing shots that he normally makes, and I don't consider that struggling. If he was playing out of character and fumbling the ball up the court, that's something that wouldn't be suspected."