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Maryland basketball’s freshmen stepped up against Georgetown

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Anthony Cowan, Justin Jackson and Kevin Huerter played beyond their age.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Georgetown Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Most college basketball fans might not recognize any of the players on Maryland who aren’t named Melo Trimble. But in Tuesday night’s come-from-behind win over Georgetown, three little-known freshmen carried Maryland until Trimble took control in the game’s final minutes.

Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter were given the start again against Georgetown as they did previously against American. The two top-100 recruits were thought to be solid pieces for the future, but they, along with Justin Jackson, the highest-rated of the trio, proved to be game-ready on their first big stage at the Verizon Center in D.C.

Cowan was the floor general through-and-through until the final minutes when Trimble took over, finding the right times to penetrate to score and when to dish. He finished with 11 points, six assists and three rebounds.

“The biggest adjustment, I’d say [in college], is the length of players,” said Cowan. “A big adjustment also is for me not to get so deep into the lane sometimes and be able to find open shooters.”

None of those things seemed to be an issue for the freshmen.

Cowan’s defense was almost as notable, and the 6’0 guard brushed off any concerns about his size affecting his game at the next level.

“He was terrific defensively,” said Turgeon. “We always put him on the best player. I thought he got us going in the second half when we went up four, he made plays for guys. Obviously we have a ton of confidence in him.”

He finished with two steals and poked a share off loose balls free, swatting them away like a pest in full court traps.

But most impressive may have been his poise at the free throw line. The freshman knocked down three foul shots in the game’s final 20 seconds, and that doesn’t include a fourth, as one was called back as referees realized the possession arrow had to be changed. Still, even after time away from the line as the referees sorted the issue, Cowan stepped up to the stripe and followed the same motion through the hoop to bring his team within two.

Justin Jackson stole the show for most of the game though, as he racked up 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including three from distance. His 7’3 wingspan was needed as he reached towards the rim to lay in a few shots and grab rebounds seemingly too far away. He finished with four boards and a steal as well in 25 minutes as Maryland’s bigs all suffered with foul trouble. He slid over to power forward and was a big part of the Terps’ increased pace. It seems like only a matter of time before he’s inserted into the starting lineup.

Kevin Huerter may have had the game’s biggest play as he swatted Jagan Mosely’s last-second layup at the buzzer to seal the win.

“Well I recruited him as a shot-blocker,” Turgeon joked after the game. The wing is well-known as one of the best shooters in his recruiting class. He’s clearly more than just that, though.

“He was actually a 6’3 point guard when I started recruited him, and now he’s 6’7 and long and athletic. It’s amazing what he’s done in such a short time.”

Huerter struggled to find open looks throughout the game, but hit them when he was open, going 2-of-3 for six points. His second made basket was also a big moment, as he launched with 53 seconds to cut what was a seven-point Hoya lead to four. He contributed elsewhere too, finishing with six boards, two assists, two steals and of course, THE block.

Though Maryland struggled in its opening game against American and wasn’t terrificagainst Georgetown, Mark Turgeon should rest easy knowing he recruited a game-changing group of freshmen. They’ve accepted large roles just two games into the season, and aren’t close to their peak. Things are looking up just months after four superstar starters left College Park.