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Maryland basketball up to No. 23 in AP poll despite suffering 1st loss

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The Terps went 1-1 against Virginia and Penn State, but moved up a spot in the rankings.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland men’s basketball will keep its ranking this week despite losing its first game in the process. The Terps (7-1, 1-0 Big Ten) moved up a spot to No. 23 in the AP poll after going 1-1 since entering the rankings.

Maryland nearly orchestrated a comeback against the No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers, after being down by as much as 17 early in the second half. The Terps would fall by five, but it was an impressive showing. They followed it up with a 66-59 win over Penn State to jump out to a 1-0 record in conference play. The Nittany Lions came in on the heels of an upset of then-No. 13 Virginia Tech.

The Terps are one of seven Big Ten teams in the poll, still a nation-high for conferences, earning 204 points this week. Maryland is joined by No. 5 Michigan, No. 10 Michigan State, No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 18 Iowa, No. 19 Ohio State, and No. 24 Nebraska. Purdue fell from the top 25 after falling to Florida State and being dismantled by Michigan, but the Cornhuskers jumped in to replace them.

Maryland still has five players averaging double figures, and Eric Ayala is nearly the sixth, with averages of 9.1 points a night. Sophomore center Bruno Fernando posted back-to-back double-doubles last week, and became the first Terp with three straight since Jordan Williams in 2011. Meanwhile, Anthony Cowan Jr. had a slightly off week, but delivered when it mattered. He finished both games with 15 points, and nailed two go-ahead threes to keep Maryland afloat at the end of the Penn State game.

Maryland’s next matchup is at now-unranked Purdue on Thursday. It will be the first time the Terps leave the state of Maryland this season, and is also the first conference road game for Mark Turgeon’s squad.