Huerter helps Terps cruise by Minnesota

Maryland men's basketball
Photo courtesy of UMTerps.com

By: Eddie Hobbs

After a demoralizing loss to No. 23 Michigan where Maryland failed to hold a slim one-point lead with 3.6 seconds left, the Terps were left in disbelief and didn’t know how to handle the loss.

“It was hard after the Michigan game. I think we just sat in the locker room after for 20 minutes just in shock and irritated about it,” sophomore guard Anthony Cowan said.

A pick-me-up was in order for Maryland, and the team was able to overcome a slow night by Bruno Fernando to defeat the Minnesota Golden Gophers 77-66 to get its fourth win in conference play.

Cowan didn’t score any points in the first half, but distributed the ball mightily to counteract his struggling jump shot. He was able to finish with 15 points and 10 assists, a career-high.  

Minnesota’s junior forward Joran Murphy leads the team in points (18 per game) and rebounds (12 per game), but was limited against Maryland.

Murphy is a key player for Minnesota and was being fed throughout the game, but the Terps’ fast hands kept him uneven. Big man Michal Cekovsky was able to keep Murphy in front of him and control his drives to the basket.

“The balance is there, we are recognizing things,” head coach Mark Turgeon said.Ceko is playing his best basketball of his career, which is great.… He was really good defensively, that kid [Jordan Murphy] is a load man, had 19 points on 17 shots and had a hard time scoring over Ceko tonight.”

With 3:29 to go in the first half, Maryland held a 29-21 lead after a Sean Obi layup. After the under four-minute media timeout, the Gophers were able to string together seven straight points to cut Maryland’s lead to just one at the half.

“We weren’t happy with how we ended the half,” sophomore guard Kevin Huerter said. “Getting up to eight or nine we kept saying we want to push it to 15 or 16 and take them out of the game and we didn’t end the half the right way, and so we came and talked in the locker room.”

The pep talk at halftime seemed to light a fire under the Maryland as the Terps scorched the net in the second half, while also limiting Minnesota on the offensive end. The Gophers only scored eight points in over 10 minutes of play to start the second half.

“They put us in a lot of binds in the second half, and we didn’t do a great job of guarding those ball screens and getting back, which we certainly talked a lot about,” Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino said. “We fought, we just weren’t making shots.”

Even without the play of Fernando, Maryland was able to control all facets of the game after the freshman picked up a couple of quick fouls to start the first half. Fernando finished the game with just nine minutes of play and two points.

Joshua Tomaic stepped onto the court and performed for Mark Turgeon. The redshirt freshman played 25 minutes while adding seven points and five rebounds, and was a much needed force off the bench.

“He played 25 minutes, my gosh. That’s a lot of minutes out there,” Turgeon said. “He was really good in the second half at Michigan and made some big plays for us. I though tonight he was better defensively. He has a great feel for what we’re doing. He’s got some guard skills to him.”

Maryland will travel to Bloomington to take on Indiana Monday at 7 p.m. The Terps look to boost their 1-4 record on the road, and improve to 5-4 in Big Ten play.

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