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Maryland men’s basketball at Nebraska preview

The Terps face the Cornhuskers on Sunday for the second time this season.

Purdue v Maryland Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Maryland men’s basketball handed No. 3 Purdue a 14-point defeat Thursday, bringing its overall record to 18-8 and 9-6 in the Big Ten.

Next up is a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers, a team the Terps beat about three weeks prior. Nebraska is 13-14 overall with a 6-10 conference record.

Tipoff is set for Sunday at 5:00 p.m. on FOX Sports 1.

What happened last time

Maryland defeated Nebraska, 82-63, when the two teams first met on Jan. 28.

Derrick Walker Jr. started out hot for Nebraska and had 16 points to lead his team, and walk-on guard Sam Hoiberg came out of nowhere to tally 15 points of his own.

Even so, Maryland controlled the game for most of the second half and had five players score double-digit points, led by Jahmir Young with 18. Donta Scott had 12, Hakim Hart had 11 and Patrick Emilien had 10, but the biggest difference-maker outside of Young was Don Carey, who went 4-for-4 from three to bring his game total up to 16 points.

Julian Reese struggled to avoid fouls but had eight points in 14 minutes played.

Young also had seven assists, indicative of the Terps’ willingness to share the ball. Their first 10 shots were assisted, and they finished with 16 assists on the day. They also turned Nebraska over 15 times and were the far more aggressive team, shooting 11 more free throws than the Cornhuskers and shooting 32.3% better from the free-throw line.

What’s happened since

Nebraska’s loss to Maryland was the third of four straight, but after that the Cornhuskers pulled out a nine-point win against Penn State behind 30 points from Keisei Tominaga.

Then, after a 21-point loss to Michigan, Nebraska rattled off 10-point victories over Wisconsin — in overtime — and Rutgers. Tominaga continued his hot streak, scoring a combined 44 points in those two games on 51.7% shooting. Sam Griesel and Walker Jr. both also scored at least 12 points in each game.

Riding their first two-game winning streak in conference play this year, the Cornhuskers have as much confidence as they have at any point this season heading into their matchup with Maryland.

They’ll have to face a Maryland squad playing its best basketball of the season, though, as it has won four of five games since beating Nebraska. They still only have one road win in conference play, though, and that came against last-place Minnesota.

The home wins have been impressive for Maryland, with double-digit wins coming against Indiana and most recently Purdue. Maryland also beat Penn State at home by six.

The Terps are sitting pretty in third place in the Big Ten after their upset of the Boilermakers and are heavy favorites against Nebraska. Reese has established himself as one of the most effective big men in the conference, and Young has continued his likely All-Big Ten campaign that can quickly turn into an All-American campaign if he keeps it up. Sunday presents a potential trap scenario for Maryland, so it’ll need to stay focused to avoid getting tripped up.

Three things to know

1. Slowing down Tominaga. Maryland did a great job sealing off Tominaga in the teams’ first matchup, allowing him to get only three shots off for a total of three points. Tominaga has been dynamic of late and cemented himself as Nebraska’s best offensive weapon from the perimeter. If he gets going, it could get dicey for the Terps on the road.

2. Reese’s fouls. Julian Reese didn’t get much of an opportunity to showcase his abilities on Jan. 28 because of foul trouble, something that was a recurring theme for much of the season. He has done a much better job at staying on the court recently and has gone toe-to-toe with Trayce Jackson-Davis and Zach Edey since then — those are considered by most to be the conference’s two best bigs. If Reese can slow down Derrick Walker Jr., it would severely limit Nebraska’s ability to compete.

3. A big-win hangover? Maryland’s win over Purdue was one of its most momentous in years and by far its biggest of this season. That, combined with a looming road trip to play a Nebraska team playing better that it was a month ago, could provide a more difficult challenge than anticipated Sunday. The Terps’ focus will get put to the test.