The Maryland men's basketball team crushed Northwestern on Saturday night, marching into Evanston's Welsh-Ryan Arena and cruising to a 72-59 win in front of a raucous purple crowd. It was Mark Turgeon's 100th victory as Maryland's head coach.
Guards Rasheed Sulaimon and Melo Trimble were outstanding for the No. 4 Terrapins. Sulaimon had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, while Trimble was masterful: 24 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds . Diamond Stone followed up his 39-point outing against Penn State last Wednesday with 10 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting, and Maryland (13-1, 2-0 Big Ten) stymied Northwestern (13-2, 1-1) from the beginning.
The Terps shot 47 percent to Northwestern's 37 percent from the field. Point guard Bryant McIntosh led Northwestern with 17 points, the only Wildcat to reach double figures.
It was never a fair fight. Northwestern had a 3-2 lead at one point but trailed for the game's final 36 minutes. Sulaimon and Stone shot a combined 9 of 9 in the first half, which was one more made shot from the field than Northwestern could muster as a team. In fact, those two players outscored the Wildcats in the opening 20 minutes, 21-20. (Sulaimon and Trimble tied Northwestern at an even 20-20.)
The Wildcats stirred a little bit in the second half, chipping away at Maryland's 20-point halftime lead. But the Wildcats never got closer than a game-ending margin of 13, even as the home crowd stayed loud until the final minutes. The Terps had things well in hand, and a couple of 3-pointers by Trimble and Sulaimon felt like particularly fatal blows.
Three things to know
1. Maryland was at its best. Despite some loser picking Northwestern to win the game, Maryland overpowered the Wildcats almost from the start. Sulaimon started filling the hoop immediately, and Northwestern never even pretended to have an answer for Diamond Stone. The game was over by halftime.
2. The Big Ten feels a little thinner than it did on Friday. Northwestern hadn't played anybody yet this season, with its best win in a 13-1 start coming against lowly Nebraska last Wednesday. This seemed like a team that might have joined the second tier of a wide open Big Ten after Michigan State, Maryland and Purdue. Now that the Wildcats have actually had to play one of those teams, that doesn't look to be true, and the league looks a bit shallower.
3. This was the recovery Maryland needed. The Terps looked drab against Penn State on Wednesday and ideally would've straightened some things out before their next game. That's exactly what happened, and the Terps put on arguably their most dominating performance of the season. This was an appropriate start to 2016.