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No. 16 Terps survive another home scare, beat lowly Nebraska, 69-65

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was asked about the performance of freshman guard Melo Trimble: "That was all Melo. That was just Melo being Melo." Trimble led the Terps with 26 points, making 10 of 11 free throws. (Kevin Richardson)

COLLEGE PARK — Melo Trimble did a figure eight trying to get the ball. He weaved his way through and around the Nebraska basketball team's defense and Maryland's ball screens until, finally, senior guard Dez Wells handed off to Maryland's star freshman at the top of the key.

With Cornhuskers guard Benny Parker in his face and a couple of seconds on the shot clock, Trimble elevated. As the 3-pointer swished through the net, Trimble stared his opponent down.

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The shot gave the Terps a five-point lead with 3:44 to play at Xfinity Center. Two possessions later, with time running down and from nearly the same spot on the floor, Trimble did it again, lifting Maryland to safety.

On a night when the No. 16 Terps couldn't hold a double-digit lead in the first half and a seven-point lead midway through the second half, Trimble was the difference. He scored 26 points, including 11 straight for Maryland, to help the Terps survive, 69-65.

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The victory, Maryland's third straight and eighth in as many games this season decided by six points or fewer, keeps the momentum going into Tuesday's showdown with No. 5 Wisconsin.

Not that what Trimble did, making seven of nine shots from the field and 10 of 11 from the free-throw line, surprised Maryland coach Mark Turgeon.

"No, because I've watched him do it. He's been doing it his whole life," Turgeon said. "The second one was really deep. I was like, 'I just hope he has enough legs to get it there.' When he released it, it looked good. It surprised me he missed a free throw; he's that good."

Said Nebraska coach Tim Miles: "Trimble made huge plays down the stretch. He really hurt us. Those are the two 3s I can remember that seemed like the daggers. … I thought Trimble's 3s were really the separation point."

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In describing the two 3-pointers, which came as the Terps tried to put away a Nebraska team that had lost its past five road games, each by double figures, Trimble afterward seemed as nonchalant as when he released them.

Asked which of the two shots was tougher, Trimble said: "[The second one,] when Dez drove and kicked it out and I fumbled it and then I shot it. The first one wasn't too tough. He's a smaller defender, so I just rose up and shot it. He's a great defender, so that was basically all I had to do."

It didn't shock Turgeon, either, that his team won another close game, with the margin of the Terps' past three victories a combined nine points.

"We're very confident. Never thought we were going to lose, even when they hit the one that cut it to three," Turgeon said. "Then we turned it over. The basketball gods were on our side. [Junior forward] Jake [Layman] threw it away, and it looked like they had a layup, and all of a sudden, Melo has the ball."

Turgeon was talking about the 3-pointer by Nebraska forward Walter Pitchford that cut Maryland's lead to 65-62 with 28 seconds left. Parker stole the ensuing inbounds pass but bobbled the ball as he drove to the basket. Senior guard Dez Wells (14 points) stole it back and found Trimble, who was fouled and made both free throws to seal the game.

While Pitchford led Nebraska (13-13, 5-9) with a season-high 19 points, the Terps did a good job on Cornhuskers guard Terran Petteway. The Big Ten's fourth-leading scorer was held to eight points on 2-for-14 shooting and missed seven of the eight 3-pointers he tried.

"Dez Wells was really good on him. He was physical," Miles said. "When we were able to get by him or get him switched on to someone else, they were showing him two [defenders] at the rim. We just couldn't get him a clean look at the rim. He had a couple of clean looks from 3[-point range] that just didn't go in."

Just as they did Saturday at Penn State, the Terps built a double-digit lead. This time, it materialized late in the first half, when a turnaround jumper in the lane by Wells (14 points) with 5:25 left put Maryland ahead 32-21. And just as they did against the Nittany Lions, the Terps lost that big lead again.

Nebraska cut its deficit to a point, 34-33, on a put-back by forward Nick Fuller with a little over a second left in the first half. Fuller's 3-pointer to start the second half gave the Cornhuskers their first lead.

It didn't last. The Terps used a 10-0 run to retake the lead, building it up to seven, 49-42, on a 3-pointer by freshman wing Jared Nickens with 11:29 left, but Maryland never could make enough stops to distance itself from the Cornhuskers.

Until Trimble did, nearly unscripted.

"That was all Melo. That was just Melo being Melo," Turgeon said. "We were trying to use clock and get it down. I didn't know he was going to pull up from deep. I thought he was going to try to drive it and get fouled.  The second one, we went inside out and he nailed it. The kid's just a winner. I've been saying it since we got him. Sure is nice to have him."

Notes: Layman also scored 14 points for Maryland. … The Terps were outrebounded 33-26 overall, and 10-1 on offensive rebounds. … Maryland is tied for second place in the Big Ten with Purdue, which beat Indiana, 67-63, in Bloomington on Thursday.

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