Ter­rap­ins never trail in Big Ten opener

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS -

per­cent be­fore the break and made just 4 of 22 of its 3-point­ers.

“Our shot se­lec­tion I thought was atro­cious in the first half,” said Groce, whose team dropped its Big Ten opener for the fourth time in five years.

It was a con­trast to the slow starts that plagued Mary­land through­out its non­con­fer­ence sched­ule. It was the Terps’ sec­ond-largest mar­gin of de­feat against a Divi­sion I team this year, just shy of their 26-point drub­bing of Jack­sonville State on Dec. 12.

“I be­lieve that is the best game we’ve played this year,” Brant­ley said. “We were just fresh men­tally and phys­i­cally.”

It was the fifth con­sec­u­tive road loss for the Illini dat­ing to last sea­son, and that skid could grow in the com­ing weeks as the Illini vis­its No. 16 In­di­ana, 15thranked Pur­due and Michi­gan.

It was Mary­land’s largest mar­gin of vic­tory in a con­fer­ence opener since pum­mel­ing Clem­son 89-60 in 1973-74. Illi­nois suf­fered its most lop­sided loss in a Big Ten de­but since fall­ing 109-74 to In­di­ana in 1990-91.

Illi­nois guard Tracy Abrams was shoot­ing 59.2 per­cent from 3-point range this year, but was 0 of 6 from the perime­ter and fin­ished with a sea­son-low two points in the loss.

Illi­nois plays host to Ohio State on Sun­day in the Illini’s first Big Ten home game and the Buck­eyes’ con­fer­ence opener.

Mary­land re­mains at home to face Ne­braska on Sun­day as the Terps play the last of eight con­sec­u­tive games in­side the state.

COL­LEGE PARK | Mary­land coach Mark Tur­geon didn’t ex­pect to be part of a 25-point game in Tues­day’s Big Ten opener against Illi­nois. Nei­ther did Illini coach John Groce.

Tur­geon was the only one of the two who was pleased at the sur­prise.

Melo Trim­ble scored 20 points, Jaylen Brant­ley added 13 and An­thony Cowan had 12 points and six as­sists as Mary­land routed Illi­nois 84-59.

It was the sixth vic­tory in a row for the Ter­rap­ins (13-1), who have won their con­fer­ence opener in all three sea­sons since join­ing the Big Ten.

“I didn’t see it com­ing,” Tur­geon said. “I didn’t think the num­bers were go­ing to be the way they were. Guys were di­aled in. They were fresh. We took four days off over Christ­mas break. I said ‘Guys, a lot of peo­ple wouldn’t do this, but it’s such a long sea­son. We’re go­ing to be fresher tonight.’”

Mal­colm Hill had 21 points for the Illini (10-4), who saw their six-game win­ning streak end.

“I didn’t see it com­ing,” Groce said. “We’ve had great ef­fort, great at­ti­tudes, re­ally prac­ticed well and played well and kept play­ing bet­ter. . At the end of the day, to me it’s about qual­ity pos­ses­sions. We didn’t have enough of them to­day and we’d had a lot of them re­cently.”

Mary­land played with­out two of its top post play­ers. Ju­nior Michal Cekovsky rested a left an­kle in­jury, and se­nior Da­monte Dodd missed his fifth con­sec­u­tive game with a sprained left knee lig­a­ment.

Their ab­sences mat­tered lit­tle against the Illini, who never led and were outscored 48-24 in the paint as Mary­land’s guards drove to the bas­ket with ease. The Terps will need Cekovsky and Dodd back to for­tify their in­te­rior ro­ta­tion as they delve deeper into Big Ten play.

Af­ter both teams strug­gled in the early mo­ments, Mary­land un­corked a 10-0 run to seize a 15-4 lead. The Terps’ lead would never shrink below nine points, and Mary­land held a 39-23 edge at the break and shot 55.9 per­cent for the game.

“I was re­ally pleased look­ing at the score­board and see­ing we were up by a lot, es­pe­cially in the first half,” Trim­ble said. “We haven’t had a good first half yet.”

De­fense was not the only prob­lem for Illi­nois. Mary­land scored 22 points off 17 Illini turnovers, and Illi­nois shot an ane­mic 26.7


Mary­land guard Melo Trim­ble drives to the bas­ket against Illi­nois guard Jay­lon Tate in the sec­ond half on Tues­day. Trim­ble led the Ter­rap­ins with 20 points in the vic­tory.


Mary­land for­wards Justin Jack­son (left) and Ivan Ben­der block the shot of Illi­nois guard Jay­lon Tate dur­ing the first half of the Ter­rap­ins’ 84-59 win in Tues­day’s Big Ten opener. The Ter­rap­ins outscored the Illini 48-24 in the paint in their sixth straight win.

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