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'Melo is Melo' down the stretch as Maryland continues road success with 77-71 win at Ohio State

COLUMBUS, OHIO — Maryland junior guard Melo Trimble was having a tough game Tuesday at Value City Arena against Ohio State. He missed seven of his first eight shots and eight of his first 11. He turned the ball over five times.

Yet when it mattered, after the Buckeyes threatened to come back from a 10-point deficit in the second half to end Maryland's six-game winning streak, Trimble did what he has done for most of his career as a Terp.

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With two big shots — his first 3-pointer of the game with 2:02 left and a driving layup with 32 seconds left — and two clutch free throws with 13.2 seconds left, Trimble helped No. 17 Maryland survive with a 77-71 victory.

The late 3-pointer was taken with the same confidence as the first five he missed, a couple of them badly.

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"Like I've always said, I play with a lot of confidence; if I miss the first one, I'm going to shoot the next one," Trimble said. "Coming into the game, I missed a lot of shots, a lot of 3s that I thought would go in. I just stayed within the game and stayed mature about it and stayed confident. I took that shot and made it."

Trimble's late heroics are expected, given that the Terps are now 29-6 over his career in games decided by six points or less. But on Tuesday night, his late contributions seemed to be more of a surprise.

Trimble's surge came after Turgeon pulled him from the game following a turnover with a little over five minutes left and Maryland hanging onto a 66-65 lead. When Turgeon re-inserted Trimble with 2:58 left and the Terps up by three, Turgeon had a message for his star.

"I put him back in at 3 and I said, 'Take over,'" Turgeon said. "I wasn't great tonight. I didn't help our guys very much, but when you've got a guy like Melo, you just kind of get out of the way and let him do what he does."

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Trimble said Turgeon "sounded like a parent" handing the car keys over after a long drive.

"It was like, 'Son, I want you to take over,'" Trimble recalled with a smile. "I went out there and did that."

Trimble finished with 13 points, but it was freshman forward Justin Jackson who again helped give the Terps their road swagger. Coming off a career-high 28-point performance Saturday at Minnesota, Jackson led Maryland (20-2, 8-1) with 22 points — all in the first 25 minutes — and a career-high 12 rebounds.

"I think they did a better job of guarding Justin, but it wasn't like we were going to him," Turgeon said. "We weren't calling plays for him. Most of the stuff he got in the first half was out of flow. …It was just kind of open for him early. The last two games he's really shot the ball well."

Jackson, who finished 8-of-12 from the field, hit his first five shots, including three 3-pointers, before missing a corner 3-pointer late in the first half after a friendly conversation with Ohio State coach Thad Matta.

Right before that shot, standing in front of the Ohio State bench, Jackson said Matta told him, "I need you to miss one for me."

"I was upset when I missed it because I told him, 'I'm not missing this one,'" Jackson said.

Junior forward Jae'Sean Tate had 20 points to lead Ohio State (13-10, 3-7).

The Terps secured their fifth straight road win in the Big Ten. The team is off to its best 22-game start in school history.

Leading by six at halftime, and as many as 10 in the second half, Maryland managed to stay in the lead despite several rallies by the Buckeyes.

"It's been a pretty amazing run," said Turgeon, whose Terps' next game is Saturday at home against No. 23 Purdue, the first ranked opponent this season. "Tonight we didn't have the fire we've had normally, but we were good enough offensively to overcome it."

Having Trimble is the ultimate security blanket for Turgeon and his young team.

"I thought the 3 was huge, it gave him confidence," Turgeon said. "Our guys believe in him, they know he's going to make plays. The good thing is that we've had enough guys do it, I just thought tonight, in this setting, the way they were playing, the way we were playing, it was going to have to be his time to do it."

Said Jackson, "Melo's Melo. He's going to have the ball in his hands, regardless. I feel we've already established that. He's the closer and the great thing about Melo is that he doesn't always have to take the shot. He can make a nice pass. That's the thing I really love about him. He's not really selfish."

In this case, the Terps needed Melo to be Melo.

For the last two minutes, he was.

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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