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Melo Trimble breaks out of slump as Terps beat Michigan State, 75-59

Terps men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon on Maryland's 75-59 win over Big Ten rival Michigan State. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun video)

COLLEGE PARK — Gary Williams was honored at Maryland on Friday night for his induction into two halls of fame last year, and received a standing ovation and collective fist pump from the season's first sellout crowd at Xfinity Center during halftime of Saturday's game against Michigan State.

Yet even Maryland's beloved coach had to take a back seat to the team's newest star.

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For a couple of hours, Garyland became Meloland.

Melo Trimble came out of his Big Ten shooting slump in the first half Saturday, burying one shot after another and the Spartans in the process. Trimble finished with 24 points, including 21 in the first half, as the No. 14 Terps turned in their most impressive performance in more than a month with a 75-59 victory.

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Asked about a first half in which he made 7 of 11 shots and finished with a deep 3-straightaway to give the Terps a 40-26 lead, Trimble said: "It felt like high school. When I was in high school, games like that used to happen. Today was really special."

Said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon: "I've seen Melo do that many times. It doesn't shock me and his confidence doesn't shock me. Today he had one of those games that he's capable of doing. Melo will be Melo and he'll keep just getting better."

It was also emotional for the freshman point guard, though Trimble is as good at hiding what's going on inside of him off the court as he is during the course of games. The performance came six days after his grandmother died unexpectedly in her sleep. Marilyn White, who was 70, was cremated Friday.

"It was really hard. She was like my second mother. When she passed, I was really shocked. I didn't want to believe it but I had to believe it and I cried," Trimble said after the game. "I'm the type of person that I didn't want other people to know, and keep it to myself and I don't want to show it."

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Trimble said he felt his grandmother's presence Saturday.

"She's like my guardian angel, and that's what I keep in the back of my head," he said.

The freshman point guard was Maryland's best player against Michigan State, though he certainly had help. Junior forward Jake Layman continued to show his talent and toughness, finishing with a season-high 23 points and 12 rebounds. The victory was the third straight for the Terps and kept Maryland (17-2, 5-1) in first place in the Big Ten.

Not only did they come out of their recent offensive slump by hitting 11 of 22 shots from 3-point range, the Terps also shut down Michigan State's top scorer. Junior guard Travis Trice, who had been on a tear, finished with just five points on 2-for-8 shooting, and had just one assist and four turnovers.

Junior forward Branden Dawson led the Spartans (12-6, 3-2) with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

"I think, defensively, we were as good as we've been in a half," Turgeon said after the Terps held the Big Ten's top 3-point shooting team to 3-for-17 shooting, including 0-for-4 in the first half. "I know they shot 44 or 45 percent (overall) for the game, but I thought we were terrific."

While Trimble and senior guard Richaud Pack combined to shut down Trice, senior guard Dez Wells nearly shut down Denzel Valentine by himself. Wells had a quiet game offensively, matching Valentine's nine points and five assists.

"I thought it was one of Dez's best games," Turgeon said.

Maryland extended its halftime lead to 20 points, 60-40, on a 3-pointer by Trimble with 11:04 to go and led by as many as 21, 63-42, after a pair of free throws by Wells with 6:03 left. The Spartans could get no closer than 14 points and didn't help themselves by missing 13 of 16 3-pointers and 9 of 13 free throws. Maryland hit 20 of 22 attempts from the line, including 11 of 12 attempts by Layman.

It was the kind of overall performance Turgeon had been waiting for since Maryland had two big wins away from Xfinity Center: a nine-point victory over then No. 11 Iowa State in Kansas City on Nov. 25 and a nine-point win at Oklahoma State on Dec. 21.

"I don't think we played our best basketball recently," Turgeon said. "Our guys stepped up and really played well today. Melo and Jake really carried us offensively in the first half ... It was a great win. We were really good. The crowd just gave us great energy."

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo didn't exactly feel the same way about his team, which had won three straight games since losing to Maryland in double-overtime on Dec. 30 in the Terps' Big Ten debut.

"I thought you saw a combination of two things – one of the poorer performances by a Michigan State team, we were awful," Izzo said. "We didn't make layups, we didn't guard. And one of the better performances by a Maryland team. That's an ugly combination when the two go."

As poorly as his team played, Izzo could appreciate Trimble's performance.

"I'd have to say that he's the straw that stirs the drink, there's no question about it," Izzo said.

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