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No. 6 Maryland men aim to alleviate growing concerns in visit to Minnesota

What was once viewed as a disturbing trend for a Maryland men's basketball team many are still picking to reach the Final Four has suddenly become a bright red flag for the now-No.6 Terps.

There is a common theme that Maryland (22-4, 10-3 Big Ten) repeated in Saturday's 70-57 loss to Wisconsin at Xfinity Center. The Terps were done in by a series of first-half turnovers, a lack of 3-point defense and an inability to rebound.

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Though last-place Minnesota (6-19, 0-13) might be the perfect remedy Thursday for coach Mark Turgeon's team, even on the road he knows that his Terps need to improve in those areas as March approaches.

Asked Wednesday if there is any more concern now than there might have been a month ago, Turgeon said, "We lost ourselves the other night. … To me that was an aberration. … You hate losing; you hate losing the way that we lost. We were never in it after the first 10 minutes."

Behind only Indiana and Iowa in the Big Ten (both 11-3), Maryland will go into ancient Williams Arena shorthanded by freshman center Diamond Stone's one-game suspension and still looking to shore up those deficiencies.

"It's getting late. It's time for us to start picking it up a little bit," Turgeon said. "I know we're 22-4. Not many teams have won 22 games. Hopefully [we will be] playing the right way and getting better down the stretch."

Against Wisconsin, the Terps committed nine turnovers by halftime, which contributed to a 15-point deficit. It was the same number of turnovers as in the first half of an 89-81 loss at North Carolina when they fell behind by as many as 13 before halftime.

"We're still going to turn it over some. We're still going to take a few bad shots, but I think more times than not, we play the right way," Turgeon said. "It doesn't mean we're always going to win, but it means we're going to give ourselves a chance."

Wisconsin also made a dozen 3-pointers in 26 attempts, the same number that Michigan did (in 29 attempts) in a 70-67 victory over the Terps in Ann Arbor last month.

"I think defensively we've been pretty solid," said Turgeon, whose team had been among the Big Ten leaders in 3-point defense and field-goal defense going into the Wisconsin game. "I even said after the game that was the first game that our defense affected our offense. Hopefully we'll learn from that."

The Badgers outrebounded Maryland by 10 despite being smaller than the Terps inside, just as Michigan State did three weeks earlier in East Lansing when the Spartans finished with the exact same edge.

That might be the biggest area of concern for Turgeon considering he expected rebounding to be a strength — particularly with the size of the frontcourt. Turgeon conceded that he is perplexed by his team's rebounding issues,

"A little bit," he said. "I think speed rebounds, too. We don't box out as well as we need to. We don't have the approach to rebound the way we should each and every possession."

Junior center Damonte Dodd, who will start in Stone's place against the Gophers, said Turgeon is always harping on his team to rebound, telling the players about the Kansas team he played on that lost to Duke in the 1986 NCAA semifinals because it didn't box out down the stretch.

"We keep that in the back of our minds that we don't want to miss a box-out and make us lose a game," said Dodd, who wasn't on the floor in last month's loss at Michigan when Stone went for a block and the Terps didn't help box out Mark Donnal, who was fouled and hit two critical free throws.

Since the loss at Michigan State, the Terps had seemingly improved their rebounding, having the edge on every opponent and staying even with Purdue, which has the second-best rebounding margin in the Big Ten, before they were manhandled again by the Badgers.

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"It's been a little disappointing, but that can improve quickly once guys decide they want to do it," Turgeon said. "I think we went through a stretch where it got better and hopefully we'll rebound Thursday."

The Terps will be looking to do what they've done all season — come back from a loss with a solid win.

It happened a week after their first loss to the Tar Heels, with a win over Connecticut at Madison Square Garden. It happened after the loss to Michigan, with a 35-point home win over Ohio State. It happened again after the defeat at Michigan State, with a home win over then No. 4 Iowa.

"We've always responded, and played pretty well after a loss. I expect the same tomorrow night," Turgeon said. "We've had more time to think about this one. We've had a good week of practice, physically and mentally. We've done some things. It's not just about tomorrow night; it's about the rest of the season."

And taking down that bright red flag.

Note: The Gophers announced Wednesday that senior guard Carlos Morris, a starter who was averaging 9.8 points per game, has been dismissed by coach Richard Pitino for "conduct detrimental to the team."

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