Maryland came into last night’s game knowing how important it was to get a home conference victory. They did just that against 24th ranked Nebraska in a 74-72 thriller.
With the game tied at 72, the Terps’ Jaylen Smith with hit a floater with 3.8 seconds left. Smith capped off a 15 point, 4 rebound performance with the game winner. “He need Sticks to play like that. If he plays like that, we’re a much better team,” said head coach Mark Turgeon.
The Terps are one of the youngest teams in the nation but tonight their youth made winning plays. “We have the fifth youngest team in the country so our guys are doing great, said Turgeon. I’m really proud of them. We’re getting better. I’m just glad we won. We still made the same mistakes. Three turnovers. Had a little bit of a panic.”
The win moved Maryland to 2-1 in the Big Ten conference and served noticed that even though, there is youth on the team, they will have to be dealt with.
In their only conference loss at Purdue, the Terps played well enough to have a chance to win the game at the end.
Obviously, Turgeon isn’t just blowing smoke with their struggles down the stretch but one could argue that they are ahead of the curve.
Bruno Fernando is right up there with Jordan Murphy and Ethan Happ when it comes to big men in the conference. Against the Huskers, Fernando went for 18 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. Huskers Coach, Tim Miles, tried various strategies to try and contain Fernando. “We know he’s a dominant player, said Miles. He did a good job keeping his balance when we went one on one, making the extra pivot into a scoring move.”
Fernando’s dominance allows young players like Smith, Eric Ayala, and Aaron Wiggins to grow into their roles. That is what will make the Terps so dangerous during conference season. As the young players prove they can handle their share of the load, how do you contain all of the Terps’ weapons?
So there is guarded optimism around the Terps this season. It’s not out of the realm for the Terps to make a run for the regular or tournament title. They’re ready for the youth to be served.