Terps' talented freshmen keep answering the bell

Kevin Huerter has been an X-factor for the Terps this year, and his play was clutch Tuesday against Indiana.

Melo Trimble has made his share of memorable plays during his first two seasons at Maryland, hitting big shots to help win games as a freshman and a 3-pointer with a little more than a second left to win at Wisconsin as a sophomore.

While Trimble shouldn't be shocked at what this year's freshmen have done for the Terps (15-2 overall, 3-1 Big Ten), even the junior guard and team captain had to smile late Tuesday night after witnessing Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan help Maryland overcome a late deficit to beat Indiana, 75-72, at Xfinity Center.

"I'm a little surprised," Trimble said after the game. "They've played 17 games and Ant [Cowan] Kevin, and Justin [Jackson] have started. It's playing basketball at the end of the day, and we all believe in each other and just play with confidence. We knew what we had to do to win, which is to get stops and rebounds."

Huerter made a crucial 3-pointer by with 1:50 to play to give Maryland a 71-70 lead, and then grabbed a defensive rebound and delivered a long outlet pass 30 seconds later to Cowan for a driving layup. Along with a pair of free throws by Trimble with 8.2 seconds left, the Terps finished off their best victory of the season.

Not only did it give the Terps a share of first place in the Big Ten — five teams were tied going into Wednesday's games — but it also sent notice that despite starting three freshmen for most of the season, coach Mark Turgeon's young team is getting better.

Maybe a lot better by March.

"They got an excellent team," Indiana coach Tom Crean said after the Hoosiers lost for the fourth time in the last five games to fall to 11-6 overall, 1-3 in the Big Ten. "Obviously, because of Trimble's experience and driving ability and his shooting and things like that, you've got to start with him.

"But we weren't wrong on making and looking at Kevin Huerter as 1B on our scouting report. That doesn't take anything away from the rest of the guys. They got a great team, they really do, and they've got a lot of talent. [Damonte] Dodd's the best screen-and-roll player in the league and he's getting better and better."

Turgeon said that he has seen the three freshmen improve rapidly.

"They're getting a little more coachable. They're getting a better understanding of what it takes," Turgeon said.

What OG Anunoby did as a freshman last season, when the Hoosiers were surprise Big Ten regular season champions, Huerter does for the Terps. He is Maryland's most versatile offensive player — third in rebounding (4.9) and assists (1.9), and fifth in scoring (8.2) — and one of its best defensive players.

According to Crean, Huerter might also lead the Terps in intangibles.

"Huerter is a guy that does a lot of the non-obvious stuff," Crean said. "He's a great help defender, he moves extremely well without the ball. He can pass, he's athletic. He really understands [the game]. And he made us pay a couple of times. He was an absolute key."

Asked about the sequence by Huerter toward the end of the game, Trimble said, "That was the [difference] right there. When Kevin hit that big 3 — and it was a deep 3 at that — and plus he got a key stop and the layup [pass to Cowan], that really changed the game for us and it was probably a downfall for them."

Trimble led the Terps with 18 points, while Cowan added 15. Huerter, who finished with 11 points (including nine in the second half on three 3-pointers) and a team-high seven rebounds, sensed the look-ahead pass to his classmate Cowan.

"I tell Anthony all the time, if I get a rebound, take off," Huerter said. "He's the fastest guy on the court. I got the rebound, looked up and there was no one around him and let him go get it."

Turgeon has seen these kind of late-game heroics by his players in several games this season, most recently Saturday at Michigan, when Huerter and Cowan made late 3-pointers before Cowan and Jackson each made a pair of free throws to secure a 77-70 win over the Wolverines.

"When have they not answered the bell?" Turgeon said Tuesday. "People are, 'How they going to do on the road in the Big Ten?' Well, they've done everything else well. First big crowd in the Big Ten play. They handled that well. Nothing they do surprises me — it really doesn't."

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