The Maryland men’s basketball team won its seventh straight game and improved to 9-0 away from Xfinity Center with its 77-71 victory at Ohio State on Tuesday night. The Terps sit at the top of the Big Ten standings before beginning a stretch of five games in which they play three of the other top four teams. Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s victory:
Justin Jackson can’t be stopped right now
Forward Justin Jackson had a breakout performance in Maryland’s 85-78 win over Minnesota on Saturday, scoring a career high 28 points on 9 of 15 shooting, including 5-for-5 from beyond the arc, while adding 10 rebounds.
At the first timeout of that contest, coach Mark Turgeon told Jackson he would score 30 points. The sixth-year coach could’ve made a similar prediction Tuesday.
Jackson had five points by the first timeout and converted on his first three 3-pointers. The freshman missed from beyond the arc at the end of the first half, but he tied for a game-high 13 points in the opening period.
The Ontario native carried his offensive momentum into the second half, scoring nine of Maryland’s first 12 points out of intermission. In his past two games, Jackson is shooting a combined 17-for-27, including 9-for-12 from the 3-point line. He notched game-highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds Tuesday.
At one point Tuesday, Ohio State coach Thad Matta even asked Jackson if he’s ever going to miss.
“I was just locked in as usual, taking open shots and taking what the defense gives me,” Jackson said.
Melo Trimble displays his resiliency
Guard Melo Trimble got out to one of his worst starts of the season against Ohio State. After dishing nine assists and not turning the ball over against Minnesota, Trimble turned the ball over five times Tuesday. While Jackson carried the load in the first half, the junior scored just two points.
But Trimble’s poise is one of his best attributes, and it’s a skill he’s displayed often throughout his three-year Terps career. The Upper Marlboro native again didn’t get discouraged Tuesday. Turgeon told Trimble to take over with about three minutes left, and he accomplished that task.
Trimble scored 11 points in the final 14 minutes, including Maryland’s final seven points. After missing his first five 3-pointers, he drained a long ball with about two minutes remaining to give his squad a 73-69 lead. He then sunk a float with 32 seconds remaining that put the Buckeyes out of reach.
“The three was huge,” Turgeon said. “It gave him confidence. Our guys belief in him.”
The Terps are perfect on the road
Maryland has kept a light attitude on road trips by playing shooting games during shootaround, hanging out in the hotel and celebrating in the locker room after wins. Those activities have helped the Terps stay loose in tight games.
Turgeon’s team hasn’t lost away from Xfinity Center all season and has won five Big Ten road games. The Terps have stayed calm in pressure situations. That trait stems from Trimble, but his teammates have shown some savvy as well.
Turgeon has lauded guard Kevin Huerter’s maturity, as he’s made clutch 3-pointers in Maryland’s past two games. Guard Anthony Cowan has the ability to throw defenses off balance late in games with his ability to get to the basket using his quickness. Center Damonte Dodd has made defensive stops late in games, and Jackson has done a little bit of everything.
“The last three minutes we were more active,” Turgeon said. “You’ve seen us. We fly around and help each other out. We weren’t doing that for 36, 37 minutes. The last three minutes we were much more active.
Maryland has won just one Big Ten game by 10 or more points and has three victories this season by one point. The Terps are the 20th luckiest team in the country, according to Kenpom, and continue to be underdogs in Big Ten road games.
But the Terps are 8-0 this season as underdogs and are one of two Division I teams who haven’t lost away from home this season.
“Our nonconference games, a lot of them were close,” Huerter said. “They had to be grinded out wins. At this point in the year, even though the teams are better than they were, we’re used to being in close games.”