Gophers at Maryland
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
INSIDE PRESENCE– The Gophers set the tone in Sunday’s 83-78 overtime victory against Michigan when they threw the ball inside to Jordan Murphy and Reggie Lynch and let their frontcourt go to work. Murphy and Lynch ended up with a combined 26 points and 23 rebounds against the Wolverines. And that was with Lynch only playing 13 minutes with foul trouble. Eric Curry replaced Lynch to put up his best game in Big Ten play with 12 points and five rebounds off the bench. Minnesota will have the edge inside Wednesday night against Maryland, especially with 7-footer Michal Cekovsky out for the season with a fractured ankle. Murphy's been in beast mode since the last time the Gophers played Maryland. He's averaging 18 points, 15 rebounds and shooting 62 percent in his last four games.
TAMING TRIMBLE– Terrapins guard Melo Trimble was named Big Ten player of the week Monday after scoring a career-high 32 points in a win against Northwestern and 27 points in a loss at Wisconsin. Trimble is clearly having the best season of his career, but he hasn’t exploded offensively in previous meetings with Minnesota. The 6-foot-3 Baltimore native had just 13 points in the Jan. 28 win in Minneapolis (to go with nine assists). Trimble really struggled last season when a top-10 Maryland team was upset at Williams Arena, finishing with just 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting and six turnovers.
FRESHMAN IMPACT– No question the story of the last meeting between these two teams was freshmen Justin Jackson, Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan combining for 55 points, including 38 points in the second half in the 85-78 win against the Gophers at the Barn. Minnesota’s players obviously didn’t stick to the scouting report on Jackson and Huerter, who combined for 10 of Maryland’s 11 three-pointers in the game. The Gophers have their own talented freshmen with Curry and Amir Coffey. They could use a breakout game from both Curry and Coffey to help offset the likely impact of the Terrapins three young starters.
Time: 7:30 p.m. CT, Wednesday. Where: XFINITY Center. Line: Maryland by 5. Series: Maryland leads 1-4; Maryland won last meeting 85-78 Jan. 28, 2017 in Minneapolis TV: BTN. Online/Live video: BTN2go Radio: 1500ESPN.
MINNESOTA (20-7, 8-6)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G-Nate Mason 6-2 Jr. 15.0
G-Amir Coffey 6-8 Fr. 12.3
G-Akeem Springs 6-4 Sr. 9.9
F-Jordan Murphy 6-6 So. 10.7
C-Reggie Lynch 6-10 Jr. 8.3
Key reserves– Dupree McBrayer, G, 6-5, So., 10.4 ppg; Eric Curry, F/C, 6-9, Fr., 6.0 ppg; Bakary Konate, C, 6-11, Jr., 1.8 ppg; Michael Hurt, F, 6-7, Fr., 0.9 ppg; Ahmad Gilbert, F, 6-6, So., 1.8 ppg.
Coach: Richard Pitino 89-72 (5th season)
Notable: The Gophers are looking for their second victory this season against a ranked Big Ten opponent on the road, which had only happened once in the program’s history in 1996-97. Pitino’s team defeated No. 15 Purdue 91-82 in overtime Jan. 1 in West Lafayette, Ind. Minnesota can also win its fifth Big Ten road game this season, which would tie the program record set in 1981-82. The Gophers won seven conference road games during the 1977-78 season, but those wins were vacated.
MARYLAND (22-5, 10-4)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G-Anthony Cowan 6-0 Fr. 10.4
G- Melo Trimble 6-3 Jr. 17.6
G- Kevin Huerter 6-7 Fr. 8.9
F- Justin Jackson 6-7 Fr. 10.8
C- Damonte Dodd 6-11 Sr. 6.3
Key reserves– Jaylen Brantley, G, 5-11, Jr., 5.1 ppg; L.G. Gill, F, 6-8, Sr., 3.4 ppg; Ivan Bender, F, 6-9, Fr., 4.2 ppg; Dion Wiley, G, 6-4, RS-So., 4.0 ppg; Jared Nickens, G-F, 6-7, Jr., 3.0 ppg.
Coach: Mark Turgeon 386-223 (18th season)
Notable: The Terrapins have the second most wins in the Big Ten (36-14) since joining the conference in 2014-15. Turgeon has the best winning percentage (.785) in program history through a coach’s first 200 games. He coached in his 200th game with Maryland in Sunday’s loss at Wisconsin.
Fuller’s prediction (24-3 picks record): Maryland 74, Gophers 68. The Gophers had their chance to upset the Terrapins at home when they were clearly outplaying them in the first half with a 12-point lead. But Maryland’s freshmen trio was too much to handle in the second half (see above). That was Minnesota’s last loss. A players-only meeting got the team to focus on the little things to win close games and the rest is history. But winning five straight games against lower-level Big Ten and bubble teams is one thing. Beating a Big Ten title contender on the road is another. Pitino’s boys did it once before when Nate Mason had 31 points and 11 assists at Purdue. But Mason isn’t likely to duplicate that performance Wednesday night.