Youth move­ment

Pair of fresh­men lead Terps past Min­nesota.

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY RO­MAN STUBBS

min­neapo­lis — Mary­land Coach Mark Tur­geon had a pre­mo­ni­tion a few min­utes into Saturday’s game against Min­nesota, a pow­er­ful sus­pi­cion that he needed to share with fresh­man for­ward Justin Jack­son. Dur­ing the first time­out of the game, shortly af­ter Jack­son drained his first three-pointer, Tur­geon pulled the rookie aside.

“Justin, I think you’re go­ing to get 30 to­day, I can feel it,” Tur­geon told him, hop­ing his words would some­how kin­dle an of­fen­sive awak­en­ing in historic Wil­liams Arena.

Jack­son later con­firmed that his coach fore­shad­owed the best per­for­mance of his ca­reer, even if he came up slightly short of ful­fill­ing the prophecy in an 85-78 win. He fin­ished with 28 points, but that was about the only thing Jack­son did wrong on an af­ter­noon when he helped 22ndranked Mary­land erase a 12-point deficit to win its fifth road game of the sea­son and keep pace with No. 15 Wis­con­sin atop the Big Ten stand­ings.

“I just came into the game like ev­ery other game: locked in,” said Jack­son, who nailed all five of his three-point at­tempts and grabbed 10 re­bounds, pro­vid­ing the first

dou­ble-dou­ble of his ca­reer when his team needed it the most.

Tur­geon of­ten has said that noth­ing his fresh­man class does sur­prises him, but even he was a lit­tle floored by what Jack­son and fel­low rookie Kevin Huerter did in front of the most hos­tile crowd of the sea­son. Huerter added 19 points, in­clud­ing a three-pointer from the left cor­ner to give his team a 79-76 lead with 1:31 re­main­ing. He held three fin­gers aloft af­ter the shot, point­ing to the rafters of the arena known as The Barn, sig­nal­ing to ev­ery­one Mary­land’s re­fusal to wilt in its 11th sec­ond-half come­back win of the sea­son.

“We knew the his­tory com­ing in here. I think it was def­i­nitely some­where I was look­ing for­ward to play­ing at,” said Huerter, who hit 5 of 7 from three-point range.

That Mary­land (19-2, 7-1 Big Ten) won by seven was al­most ironic given the team’s run­ning count of games won by six points or fewer — it has claimed eight of those. The fi­nal mar­gin was the re­sult of a 59-point sec­ond half led by two fresh­men and fa­cil­i­tated by ju­nior guard Melo Trim­ble. The stand­out ju­nior guard de­ferred to his understudies all day and fin­ished with 13 points, nine as­sists and seven re­bounds against no turnovers.

“I know how the game goes,” he said. “When they’re on, they’re on. It’s my job as a point guard to keep feed­ing them.”

Mary­land was pushed around in­side again, get­ting out­re­bounded 41-31, but it made up for that with cleaner ball se­cu­rity (just seven turnovers) and the of­fen­sive prow­ess of Jack­son and Huerter, who went a com­bined 16 for 25 from the field.

Min­nesota (15-7, 3-6), which lost its fifth con­sec­u­tive game, surged to a 19-1 run to take a 12-point lead within the first 11 min­utes. Still, even as Mary­land was out­shot and out­re­bounded in the first half, it re­mained in strik­ing dis­tance largely be­cause of the poise of Jack­son and Huerter.

Jack­son hit con­sec­u­tive three­p­oint­ers to cut the lead to four with 6:23 re­main­ing in the first half, cru­cial makes that were set up af­ter he used his 7-foot-3 wing­span to help strip cen­ter Reggie Lynch of the ball and force a turnover. Huerter’s swarm­ing de­fen­sive ef­fort helped hold Min­nesota fresh­man Amir Cof­fey, a lengthy south­paw, score­less af­ter an 11point first half.

Jack­son’s fifth three-pointer pulled Mary­land within 49-47 with just less than 13 min­utes to play. As Min­nesota devoted more at­ten­tion to Jack­son and Huerter, op­por­tu­ni­ties for oth­ers opened up. Ju­nior for­ward Jared Nick­ens, who has set­tled into backup role be­hind Huerter, nailed a three­p­ointer, and Anthony Cowan Jr. gave Mary­land its first lead of the sec­ond half with a steal and layup with 11:40 to play.

Trim­ble found a small open­ing him­self on the next pos­ses­sion. He fin­ished an ac­ro­batic layup to give his team a two-point lead with 8:32 left, then fed Huerter in the cor­ner for an­other three-pointer on the en­su­ing pos­ses­sion. That was a cru­cial play dur­ing a stretch in which Mary­land scored on eight con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions and hushed a rau­cous crowd.

It was fol­lowed by a per­plex­ing stretch for se­nior cen­ter Da­monte Dodd, who com­mit­ted a turnover and then two lane vi­o­la­tions on missed free throws by Min­nesota’s Jor­dan Mur­phy. That al­lowed the Go­phers to tie it at 63 with a lit­tle more than six min­utes re­main­ing. Trim­ble tied the game again at 67 off a layup with 5:07 re­main­ing, and he fol­lowed that with an­other cir­cus layup in tran­si­tion af­ter be­ing fed off a steal from Cowan. Trim­ble made the shot de­spite tak­ing heavy con­tact, and af­ter knock­ing down the free throw to com­plete the three-point play, Mary­land owned a 73-71 lead with 2:49 re­main­ing.

But it only made sense that the ac­tion cir­cled back to Jack­son and Huerter for the fi­nal stretch. Af­ter Trim­ble’s fin­ish, Min­nesota guard Nate Ma­son drilled a three-pointer to give his team back the lead. Jack­son an­swered with a three­p­oint play of his own, and af­ter Ma­son again tied the game with a pair of free throws, Trim­ble found Huerter for the big­gest shot of the day.

Jack­son’s fi­nal point came on a free throw with 36 sec­onds left, and while he didn’t get an­other shot to reach 30 points like Tur­geon had por­tended, he emerged from the locker room after­ward with a bag of ice on his knee and spoke of how cold­blooded this team can re­ally be.

“I’ll do what­ever I can do to help my team win,” he said.

JIM MONE/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mary­land fresh­man Justin Jack­son, who fin­ished with 28 points and 10 re­bounds, rises for a shot against Min­nesota’s Reggie Lynch.

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