Feature photo courtesy of Max Marcilla/Stories Beneath the Shell.
Maryland has played five games on the road this season.
They haven’t lost a single one. Only three teams in the NCAA can say the same.
The Terps will put that pristine road record to the test Tuesday night against Ohio State when they take on the 13-9 Buckeyes in Columbus.
“We got our hands full,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “I think their starting five is as talented as any starting five in our league and maybe the most talented in our league.”
Kevin Huerter said road games give the team an extra boost.
“[Playing on] the road definitely is more emotional,” Huerter said. “Going into it knowing that basically the only people that are going to be rooting for us are the select few people behind our bench and obviously the people on our bench. I think, as a team, we’re more into it.”
Despite the intense atmosphere during the game, though, the team likes to keep the mood light when they travel.
“We have a lot of fun on road trips,” Melo Trimble said. “We play a lot of games in shootaround and Coach Turgeon participates, too.”
Turgeon agreed and said he can sense the team playing with a lot of joy.
“We’re in the middle of five out of seven on the road, you better be together and you better have fun while you’re doing it,” Turgeon said. “We’ve kinda taken it on as a challenge. We didn’t catch a lot of breaks our last two road games and that makes us pretty determined.”
The team is buying into Turgeon’s program and he thinks the Terps’ are seeing that with the wins not just on the road, but also with their 19-2 overall record.
“The thing for a coach is you never stop trying to get them to pass the ball, you never stop trying to get them to put the team first,” Turgeon said. “This team has made that easy this year.”
Trimble has bought into what Turgeon is selling. His game has elevated to a new level this season and that was on display in the win Saturday over Minnesota. Trimble recorded 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds on zero turnovers.
His expert passing helped the Terps come back from a 19-1 Minnesota run and contributed to freshmen Huerter and Justin Jackson scoring 47 combined points.
“He realizes that everybody is just trying to stop him,” Turgeon said. “He has every year but more so this year, and guys are stepping up—he trusts his teammates. He did that the whole second half.”
Ivan Bender said that Trimble’s great court vision and his ability to improvise on offense leads to a lot of easy buckets.
“Every opponent we played this year and that we’re going to play is focusing on Melo and our guards because they’re so good at driving the basketball and penetrating,” Bender said. “All my layups and made baskets are like wide open layups because of his penetration and my reading of the defense.”
Despite the team’s and Trimble’s improvement thus far, rebounding still remains an issue. The Terps are 142nd in the NCAA with 37 rebounds per game.
“We talk about rebounding all the time, they probably hear about it in their sleep,” Turgeon said. “We have to become a better box-out team.”
Against Ohio State, Maryland will need to prevent Trevor Thompson from crashing the boards. key in on boxing. The junior averages a near double-double with 10.5 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game.
Michal Cekovsky will be relied on to stop Thompson, who is coming back from a foot injury. He played six minutes against Minnesota.
“[Thompson] is just so physical,” Turgeon said. “I like to think that [Cekovsky’s] going to be ready to help us a little bit more tomorrow night, [he’s] gonna need to, especially with Trevor Thompson playing the way he’s playing.”
Turgeon is encouraged by the way the team is playing but knows there is still much to improve on and so is Trimble.
“We’re happy but we know that we want to get better so we’re still hungry,” Trimble said.
The Terps and Buckeyes will tip off Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Value City Arena in Columbus.
Edited by Maggie Gottlieb.
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