Kevin Huerter’s good-natured personality often hides the competitor that lurks inside the Maryland shooting guard.
Huerter didn’t completely agree with Turgeon’s postgame comment that he thought the Terps “got better” playing as they did early against the Spartans.
“I don’t really take moral victories, but I guess it was just another opportunity for us to practice all our stuff,” Huerter said after Thursday’s 91-61 loss to No. 1 Michigan State at the Breslin Center. “We ran our plays, everyone got a lot of minutes, a lot of game minutes. The scoreboard’s the scoreboard — we got beat by 30.”
The margin of defeat eclipsed a 27-point defeat Maryland suffered at Virginia in Turgeon’s first season in 2011-12. The worst previous Big Ten defeat was a 24-point road loss at Ohio State in 2014-15.
The loss to the Buckeyes didn’t prevent those Terps from having a strong first season in their new league. Maryland finished 14-4 in the Big Ten, second to Wisconsin, and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time under Turgeon.
The Terps will try to put this blowout loss behind them when they return to the court against Iowa on Sunday at Xfinity Center, especially considering the defeat came to a team many believe is not only the best in the country but the most talented in Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo’s 23 seasons.
Huerter conceded that there were some positives to take from the game.
Along with his and the team’s hot start — the 6-foot-7 sophomore scored 14 of his 16 points in the first 12½ minutes and Maryland was tied with Michigan State at 29 with 5:46 left in the first half — there was a 26-point performance by fellow sophomore guard Anthony Cowan Jr., one shy of a career high.
“There were times when we didn’t play as bad as a 30-point loss, so we try to take as many positives away because it’s a quick turnaround. We’ve got to win on Sunday,” Huerter said, referring to a game against an Iowa team that’s 9-8 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten this season.
Cowan, too, didn’t take solace from one of his most impressive games as a Terp. With big men Michal Cekovsky and Bruno Fernando in foul trouble most of the night — Cekovsky wound up fouling out with more than eight minutes left — Cowan often challenged the Spartans inside.
Until Turgeon took both of his starting guards out of the game with 1:38 to go, neither stopped competing.
“That’s something I grew up [doing], something my dad always taught me to do — never stop until you can’t play anymore,” Cowan said. “I always try to compete as hard as I can and try to get my teammates to try to finish out with pride.”
Asked if he thought his performance proved how good a player he has become, Cowan said, “I really don’t care honestly. I just want to win.”