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Kevin Huerter broke through late to push Maryland basketball over Indiana

The freshman hit two go-ahead threes to go with a clutch outlet pass in the final minutes.

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

For the first 35 minutes of Maryland basketball’s win over Indiana Tuesday night, Kevin Huerter stayed quiet. With the score knotted at 63, the freshman had only contributed five points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field.

Down the stretch, however, Huerter started sizzling. He nailed a tie-breaking three with 5:08 remaining, then followed it with another go-ahead long ball — from nearly the same exact spot on the floor — with 1:48 to play. Seconds later, he grabbed a long rebound and hurled an outlet pass to Anthony Cowan, whose layup put Maryland up 73-70. The Terps would never give the lead back.

Huerter hasn’t been a premier scoring threat for Maryland this season, but he’s had his moments, most notably a 26-point eruption against Nebraska. He started getting open looks in the second half Tuesday, and he made the most of them.

“The first half, I don’t think I had good looks, and we always talk about trying to get the best shot every possession,” Huerter said after the game. “The second half, I think they started to key off different guys because we were doing a lot of ball screens, and I started getting open looks and knocked them down.”

Huerter finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and two assists. He was one of four Terps in double figures, joining Melo Trimble (18), Cowan (15) and Justin Jackson (11). Maryland’s scoring depth makes the team tough to prepare for, but the Hoosiers made containing Huerter a priority.

“We weren’t wrong on looking at Kevin Huerter as 1B on that scouting report,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said.

After his third three of the game gave the Terps a late lead, Huerter said he couldn’t hear the defensive switch on Indiana’s next possession because of the crowd noise. Maryland still forced a missed OG Anunoby jumper late in the shot clock, and when the rebound came to Huerter, he quickly channeled his inner floor general and heaved a two-handed pass down the court.

“Kevin played point guard in high school. Kevin has point guard skills,” Turgeon said. “He doesn’t handle it much for us because of the other two point guards, but what a pass that was. I was just hoping that Anthony could get to the rim fast enough.”

Huerter got rid of the ball quickly, but Cowan was ready for it. The two freshmen have connected on similar plays in practice, and it translated to what was then a one-point game.

“I always got yelled at in high school for throwing long passes. I like kind of sitting back and just throwing it up,” Huerter said. “And I tell Anthony all the time, if I get the rebound, take off, he’s the fastest guy on the court. I got the rebound, looked up, there was no one around him, and let him go get it.”

Huerter played a team-high 34 minutes Tuesday despite a statline that was underwhelming for most of the night. His versatility and intangibles have made him a commodity even when he isn’t putting up numbers.

“Huerter is a guy that does a lot of the defensive and non-obvious stuff,” Crean said. “Great help defender, moves extremely well without the ball, he can pass, he’s athletic, and he just really understands his role.”

The Terps don’t always need Huerter to score; they have Trimble and Cowan and Jackson for that. But when opponents start to drift off him, the freshman has proven time and time again that he can make them pay.