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After Terps move to No. 19, Mark Turgeon says 'we've earned that spot'

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was surprised the Terps moved up two spots in the rankings.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was surprised the Terps moved up two spots in the rankings. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

COLLEGE PARK — Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon was fully prepared to see the program's first national ranking in five seasons disappear after the then No. 21 Terps lost at home to then-No. 7 Virginia last week.

Instead, Maryland (8-1) moved up to No. 19 this week. Though it won't change how Turgeon approaches his team and its upcoming games with North Carolina Central Wednesday and USC-Upstate Saturday, he understood the significance of staying ranked.

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"It's great to be ranked, that was my concern, that we would fall out, we want to be there in January and February, that's really what matters," Turgeon said before practice Tuesday at Xfinity Center.

"It's good for recruiting. It's just good for our program. Maryland needs to be ranked, happy for the guys since they've worked hard since we had them in June. We've earned that spot and now we've got to keep it as the season goes on."

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The Terps were helped by the fact that, after losing to Virginia, they had a 20-point win over Winthrop, which had won at Clemson this season. It also didn't hurt that the Cavaliers moved up to No. 6 with a double-digit win at Virginia Commonwealth Saturday.

Junior forward Jake Layman said staying competitive for most of Maryland's 76-65 loss to Virginia while playing without seniors Dez Wells and Evan Smotrycz also helped with the voters.

"I I think UVa is a really good team and the fact that we played them okay without Dez and Evan, and they're two of our best players, it kind of shows how we can grow as a team this year," Layman said.

Layman said that the team is not caught up with the ranking.

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"I think if we keep doing what we have to do, I think the ranking shouldn't be something that we try to keep. If we keep playing the way we're capable of playing, it will all work out," Layman said.

Said sophomore center Damonte Dodd: "Some of us thought we might have dropped [after the Virginia game], but we climbed up. It's really exciting. It proves that we're getting on the map now we've got to continue to press on."

Maryland is now only one of three Big Ten teams ranked in the AP writers poll and one of five in the USA Today coaches' poll. Wisconsin is No. 5 in the AP ranking and No. 6 in the USA Today poll. Michigan State and Illinois are 23rd and 25th, respectively, in the coaches' poll, but unranked by the writers.

Turgeon knows that there are a lot of factors going into having his team ranked.

"I think it's a reflection of a lot of things, No. 1 there's a lot of teams that lost games, some teams lost multiple games," Turgeon said. "We've only lost one and it's a reflection of Virginia and what they did against VCU on the road.

"People know we have a couple of people out. And Winthrop is a heckuva team, they won at Clemson and Clemson beats Arkansas and we handled them pretty easily. I thought we were really good on Saturday."

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