COLLEGE PARK — Before the Maryland men's basketball team (7-1) practiced Friday at Xfinity Center, Terps point guard Melo Trimble made an interesting observation.
Asked about his ability to get to the free-throw line regularly through his first eight college games, Trimble said it's actually easier than it was in high school.
"I'm strong, but there's a lot of other players that are stronger than me," the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Trimble said ahead of Saturday's 2 p.m. game against visiting Winthrop (3-3). "Once I get past them, they try to arm-bar me, so that's how I get fouled."
Trimble is 55-for-62 from the line this season, or about 89 percent overall. As of Friday, the freshman has made more free throws than any Division I player nationally, two more than Hofstra junior guard Juan'ya Green (53-for-65 in seven games) and BYU senior guard Tyler Haws (53-for-58 in eight games).
In the Big Ten Conference, the only players close to Trimble's volume of free throws are Iowa's Aaron White and Penn State's D.J. Newbill. A 6-9, 220-pound forward, White is 51-for-58. Newbill, who leads the conference in scoring, is 49-for-59. The only conference player with a better shooting percentage from the foul line is Wisconsin senior guard Traevon Jackson, who is 21-for-22 (95.2 percent).
Trimble has more made free throws than any of his teammates even have attempts. Junior forward Jake Layman is second in both categories, at 34-for-47.
The crackdown on hand-checking certainly has helped.
"For college, if you do a hand check, it's a foul, so it's easy to get the line, 'cause [opponents] try to cut you off, and they've got to bump you to cut you off," Trimble said.
That happened several times during No. 21 Maryland's 76-65 loss to visiting No. 7 Virginia on Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Trimble hit six of the Terps' 10 straight free throws that help cut a 12-point deficit to eight by halftime. He finished 12-for-14 from the line, finishing with a team-high 16 points.
"Trying to handle Melo off of those screeens, he didn't shoot it well, but he got to the line," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said afterward. "He poses some problems."
Trimble was 13-for-14 from the charity stripe in his season-high 31-point performance against Arizona State in the semifinals of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo. He was also 13-for-14 in a 24-point night against Monmouth, a game in which he hit eight straight down the stretch to hold off the Hawks, 61-56.
After that Nov. 28 win, Layman made a telling remark about Trimble.
"He's the one we want with the ball in his hands at the end of a game," Layman said.