College Park, MD – Melo Trimble led Maryland past Rutgers 67-55. Melo had been battling a sickness the previous few days before this contest. Quite honestly, it was hard to tell. He looked like his normal and steady self. He made some timely shots and was the veteran presence the Terps (18-2, 6-1) needed to pull away in the second half. Rutgers (12-9, 1-7) showed great toughness. They guarded hard all night and forced the Terps into many ugly turnovers, 18 to be exact. Rutgers had a tough time getting into any offensive flow. They really struggled from the foul line going just 10-of-24. If Rutgers could have made just even a handful more free throws, this game could have gotten interesting. Coach Steve Pikiell has his team doing all the right things to succeed in time. Once more talent comes through, Rutgers should compete in the middle of the pack of the Big Ten.
Trimble proved that no matter the circumstances he is a leader on the court for Maryland. Coach Mark Turgeon said he had no idea how Trimble would feel, because the day before he looked terrible. Sickness does not always stop a player from playing at a high level. Some players rise through it and play at a high level, that is exactly what Melo did. He finished with a game high of 17 points, 3 three-pointers, six rebounds, four assists and five turnovers. The other main contributor for the Terps was Kevin Huerter. The freshman guard continues to show that he has a tremendous feel for the game. He can see the passing lanes like few players do. Many times he passes the ball to open teammates and they have no clue it’s coming because they don’t even realize they are open. Huerter impacts the game for the Terps in so many ways. He defends at a high level, and helped limit Corey Sanders to 15 points, on 5-of-19 shooting. Huerter is a very solid rebounder as well. Despite not being the biggest or most physical presence (6-7, 190) he led the team in rebounds with eight. Huerter has such a versatile skill set and is destined to be a solid contributor for the Terps for years to come, as long as he stays in college. Huerter finished with eleven points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Another contributor for the Terps was Damonte Dodd. Dodd had eight points, five rebounds and three blocks.
The guard play for Rutgers is what fuels them. They rely way too much on 6-2 sophomore guard Corey Sanders and 6-1 junior guard Nigel Johnson. Sanders is a very explosive scoring guard. He struggles with his outside shot and shooting jumpers in general. He is much more comfortable attacking off the dribble or off of the pick and roll. He turns the corner hard in pick and roll, and has great leaping ability allowing him to rise over defenders or perform acrobatic lay-ins. Sanders struggled shooting in this game, but a lot of that may be due to the fact that his team has only one other scoring option, Nigel Johnson. Sanders was shadowed by Huerter in the second half and that is when he became really limited on offense. Sanders finished with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Sanders backcourt mate Johnson had a decent impact on offense as well as defense. He compliments Sanders well and if they had more teammates that could run and gun that may suit their team better. Johnson is not the best shooter. Like Sanders he thrives when he gets into the lane. He has a crafty floater and understands when to get all the way to the rim. Johnson is a solid on ball defender. He has great quickness and his active hands bother players with a suspect handle. Johnson posted 14 points, two three-pointers, four rebounds and two steals on the night.
Maryland continues to surprise many and probably even themselves with their hot start. This matched their best start ever, back when Steve Francis was their star guard in 1998-1999. Maryland at 18-2 and 6-1 in the Big 10, has officially put the conference and the rest of the country on notice.
Rutgers continues to struggle in conference play. They lack the skill players and veteran leadership needed to compete in a high-major conference like the Big 10. The effort and commitment to defense is definitely there though.
Up next for Rutgers is a home game vs. Wisconsin on Saturday while Maryland is at Minnesota on Saturday.
This article was written by Greg Walter, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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