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Maryland basketball's Rasheed Sulaimon-Robert Carter Jr. transfer combination is lethal

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They both came to College Park via other schools. On Saturday, they paced Maryland.

The only person who had a better day than Carter and Sulaimon was our photographer.
The only person who had a better day than Carter and Sulaimon was our photographer.
Sung-Min Kim/Testudo Times

"Top-25 recruits Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter Jr. led the No. 4 Maryland Terrapins in points and rebounds in a crucial Big Ten victory against No. 18 Purdue, under head coach Mark Turgeon at home in Xfinity Center,"  is a sentence that would make sense to absolutely nobody back in 2012. But in 2016, it somehow makes perfect sense.

Maryland's upperclassmen transfers have been the vocal leaders of an up-and-down team faced with a few close calls, and the two have had some bumps in the road themselves until something sparked between them against the Boilermakers on Saturday. In that game, Carter had 3 assists. All of them went to Sulaimon.

It almost seemed as if the former five-star recruits were in College Park to play quarterback and receiver as Carter launched a pair touchdown passes to Sulaimon. It had a similar feel to the deep-ball connection Kevin Love and LeBron James share for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it caught the Boilers by surprise.

"We've known each other for a long time. We both come from the ACC," Sulaimon said, himself from Duke and Carter from Georgia Tech. "Rob is just an easy guy to play with. He has incredible physical tools."

Carter's versatility showed as he scored 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and added 7 rebounds to his assist total. Sulaimon had a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Carter was the difference in the game.

"In this type of game where we are up at halftime, if he doesn't play the way he does in the first half, now we have an 8-to-10-point lead," Painter said. "It is a big difference going into the second half, but his versatility is tough because he can put the ball on the floor and make a shot."

Carter hit a critical 3-pointer for Maryland late in the second half, which started a game-ending 25-10 run.

What held Maryland over until its late spurt was its ability to run in transition, which the team made a focal point going into its matchup with Purdue. The Terps scored 12 points in transition – four of them between Carter and Sulaimon – as opposed to the eight combined the team tallied in two close games against Ohio State and Nebraska.

The extra couple of points added up, stretching what had been consecutive 5-point victories into a comfortable 11-point closeout, making the game a little more fun for everyone.

"I threw a couple of touchdown passes to Rasheed, and he caught a couple of them," Carter said, recalling Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. "I wanted to dab on 'em, but I just stuck with a touchdown [signal]."

The Terps have hit their stride heading into Super Bowl Sunday.