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3-point shots: Observations and opinions from Maryland's loss Tuesday at Nebraska

Dez Wells was somewhere in Italy on Tuesday night, in his first full season playing overseas. Melo Trimble is starting a 10-day break from his G-League team in neighboring Iowa.

Neither former star was at Pinnacle Bank Arena, as each had been in hitting a big field goal to help beat Nebraska in Maryland’s two previous trips.

Nor did any of Maryland’s current players — namely sophomore guards Anthony Cowan Jr. or Kevin Huerter — do his best impersonation of either Wells or Trimble.

That will likely come down the road, and on the road, as Cowan and Huerter grow as players and the Terps, a year or two removed from a tough season, grow as a team.

Trimble hit a pair of big 3-pointers in the second half two years ago, as well as a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to seal a 70-65 win.

It came a year after Wells hit a big jumper with 8.8 seconds left for the final two points in a 64-61 victory that was Maryland’s seventh straight.

Both were part of Maryland’s 19-2 record in games decided by six points or fewer in those two seasons. The loss was the eighth in 12 games this season decided by six points or fewer.

Here are some observations and opinions from the 70-66 loss at Nebraska:

Foul calls on Huerter

It’s not that Huerter hasn’t been in foul trouble before. Nor is it that he hasn’t fouled out of a game, as he did Tuesday against the Cornhuskers.

Huerter fouled out late in an early-season win over Butler — still the biggest victory for the Terps this season — and has been in foul trouble in three Big Ten games, picking up four in each.

But the foul trouble that hindered Huerter throughout Maryland’s loss at Pinnacle Bank Arena ultimately haunted the Terps in their seventh straight road loss.

Huerter's second foul came late in the first half on a moving screen that was one of several questionable calls on both sides by what appeared to be a whistle-happy Big Ten crew.

The third foul — the one that seemed to alter the complexion of the game — came 47 seconds into the second half. Turgeon said after the game that Huerter claimed “he didn’t touch him.”

It allowed Nebraska junior guard James Palmer Jr. to score 24 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, taking advantage of foul trouble to both Huerter and freshman guard Darryl Morsell.

Huerter’s fourth personal with 10:22 left in the game came on what Turgeon called a “silly” foul by the 6-foot-7 shooting guard, whose eventual return with 7:03 left helped spark Maryland's ill-fated comeback.

The fifth, which resulted in Huerter's second career disqualification, didn’t matter since it came after the Terps failed to retrieve his purposely missed free throw in the closing seconds.

While losing Cowan to foul trouble would be problematic for a team with depth problems at point guard, losing its best all-around player is still tough.

It also didn’t help that Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph) spent a good chunk of the second half in foul trouble as well after getting his fourth personal with over seven minutes left.

Without Huerter able to even guard anyone at times — he literally played a one-man zone while everyone else was playing man-to-man — Palmer went off.

And the Terps lost another close game.

Huerter’s problem Tuesday with fouls reminded me of the trouble wide receiver DJ Moore had on a 4-8 football team last season for the Terps.

While Moore didn’t get the calls he deserved as the Big Ten’s best receiver last season playing on an East Division bottom-feeder, Huerter probably had two more fouls than he deserved.

And the Terps lost again.

Cowan’s 3-pointer

This was the second time in less than a month that Cowan took the game’s most crucial shot — a 3-pointer with 53 seconds left that was blocked by Nebraska guard Glynn Watson Jr.

The last time, with the Terps trailing Indiana in Bloomington by three points with 36 seconds left, came after he broke off a play and missed a 3 on a play designed for Huerter to get a 3.

Cowan was 3-for-13 against the Cornhuskers, 1-for-7 on 3-pointers. Against the Hoosiers, he was 6-for-18 overall, 1-for-6 on 3-pointers.

Trimble made a habit of hitting big 3-pointers on the road after being ice-cold for much of the game. Cowan has done that on occasion, but usually at home.

While Cowan didn’t shoot as impatiently as he did against Indiana, it was clearly not the shot Turgeon wanted his point guard to take.

Trailing by only a point, and with seven seconds left on the 30-second shot clock, Cowan would have been better off driving and trying to draw a foul.

Nebraska’s fans

Three years ago, when Maryland played at Nebraska for the first time as a member of the Big Ten, the Cornhuskers were on a seven-game losing streak. The game was close to a sellout.

Two years ago, when the Terps came to Nebraska ranked No. 4 in the country and the Cornhuskers were hovering right above .500, the place was packed again.

So it made sense that Tuesday’s game at Pinnacle Bank Arena was a sellout. It’s right up there with basketball hotbeds Purdue, Indiana and Michigan State in terms of atmosphere.

Which means it’s way better than what the Terps will return to Saturday night when they face Big Ten bottom-feeder Rutgers in an 8 p.m. start.

Sad, but true.

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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