Maryland: 84, Iowa: 76
Maryland has been disrespected in the AP Poll and Coaches Poll. The entire season they were placed in the “received votes” but were not ranked despite their outstanding record. Kansas State, a team Maryland defeated earlier in the season, was ranked #25 before Maryland. Arguably, Maryland had a rough start to their season; they needed to find their rhythm. After leading the Big Ten conference, Maryland was finally ranked in the AP Poll and Coaches Poll at #25. The game against Iowa put the Terps under pressure. It was their second road game in a row, after a close win against Illinois, and the first one after reaching the polls.
Maryland was coming off a road win, and not surprisingly, it was another close game. The Iowa fans were loud the entire game, which was very instrumental in Iowa’s comeback from a 13 point deficit. In the late minutes of the second half Iowa took the lead by 3 points, but Maryland was able comeback and capture another road victory. Maryland is now perfect on the road.
What was the X-factor in this game?
As always Melo Trimble was the x-factor of the game. Trimble is the only player to make the midseason Wooden Award watch list for the past three years. Trimble has averaged 17.4 points per game, which happens to be higher than his infamous freshman campaign. Against Iowa, Trimble was a leader. Iowa came back from a 13-point deficit and tied the game, then took a short-lived lead. Nickens came off the bench and hit a spectacular 3-pointer to tie the game, but with a layup from Cordell Pemsl, and a free throw by Tyler Cook, Iowa took a 3-point lead again. Feeding off of Nickens’ energy, Trimble hit back-to-back 3 pointers which ignited Maryland’s 12-4 run that won them the game.
Why Maryland Won This Game
As in all of Maryland’s lose games, the reason they won was perseverance. Unlike other games, they were leading at half time comfortably. Maryland shot an impressive 57%, while during the season they averaged only 45%. The team’s ability to power through the end of the game, no matter where they play, who their opponents are, or the score differential, is why Maryland has been able to capture win after win.
In the closing minutes, center Damonte Dodd, who averages 2.3 blocks per game and close to 5 rebounds per game, fouled out. This gave Maryland fans a small heart attack since center Michal Cekovsky has been out with an ankle injury, and center/forward LG Gill left the game with a bruised knee. Ivan Bender was the last center standing. Bender was able to end the game with 8 rebounds. Maryland fans let out a little sigh of relief that we still had a single center standing.
Star of the Game
Justin Jackson had a spectacular performance and almost a double double, which landed him coBig Ten Freshman of the week. Jackson is part of the immaculate freshmen 3, who nobody could have predicted to be as explosive as they have been all season. Jackson has been a consistent player, and someone to always depend on. Against Iowa, he grabbed 9 rebounds, and scored 12 points.
Dud of the Game
LG Gill is a great defender, but has struggled offensively. Gill is a graduate transfer from Duquesne who played small and power forward during his undergrad seasons. Now at Maryland, especially with the injuries from our big men, he plays out of position at center and rarely power forward. Against Iowa, he was 0 for 2 for free throws, and 0 for 1 in field goals. He only had 12 minutes, but bruised his knee early in the second half to take him out of the game.
Stat of the Night
Maryland only averages 13 assists per game, but against Iowa assisted on 23 of 30 made baskets. Maryland was able to assist on almost 77% of the baskets made! This demonstrated that the team is starting to play cohesively. After a rough start to the season, Maryland is now catching their rhythm and playing more to their potential.
Iowa was a thrilling game that gave the team confidence. Now they remain Big Ten leaders, and are moving up in the rankings at #22. Maryland’s next opponent is Rutgers playing on Tuesday January 24th. Rutgers is coming off a 65-64 win against Nebraska, defeating a team that overtook Maryland at home on New Year’s Day. Although it is a home game, and the Xfinity Center is one of the most feared stadiums to play in, Melo Trimble may be out with all illness, and his status is uncertain. This rattles many Terp fans, since Trimble is the core of Maryland’s team. The team has depth, and definitely can survive without Trimble, but it may be a closer than anticipated game.
University of Maryland