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Major minutes not a concern for Maryland's Melo Trimble

Melo Trimble fights for a loose ball with North Carolina Central guard Dante Holmes in the second half Wednesday night.
Melo Trimble fights for a loose ball with North Carolina Central guard Dante Holmes in the second half Wednesday night. (Evan Habeeb, USA Today Sports)

Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon keeps saying that he wants to cut down on Melo Trimble's minutes in order to save the freshman point guard's legs for later in the season.

It is one of the few things Turgeon hasn't been able to succeed at during the 9-1 start for his 19th-ranked Terps.

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Averaging a team-high 31 minutes going into Wednesday's game against North Carolina Central and coming off a season-high 37-minute effort in Saturday's 82-62 win over Winthrop, Trimble played 34 minutes in a 67-56 victory over the Eagles at Xfinity Center.

Though there were times when he didn't appear to have the same burst than he has demonstrated throughout the season, Trimble was efficient. He finished with 12 points, including hitting all eight of his free throws, to go along with four assists and just one turnover.

It's apparent that the Terps don't run their offense as effectively with Trimble on the bench, so he hasn't spent much time there.

"He's fine. He can handle it," Turgeon said Wednesday night. "We'll rest him tomorrow. He'll go light [at practice Friday]. He'll be ready [Saturday against USC-Upstate]. He's young. He's a freshman. Those guys don't get tired."

Trimble, who has lost about 15 pounds since his senior year at Bishop O'Connell High, is averaging the most minutes of any freshman in the Big Ten (31.3), just a shade more than Indiana's James Blackmon Jr. (30.4) and Ohio State's DeAngelo Russell (30.1). His 16 points per game ranks third in the conference behind Blackmon (19.3) and Russell (18).

But neither Blackmon nor Russell are being asked to run – and lead – their respective teams, something Turgeon has counted on Trimble to do since the season started. Those responsibilities increased considerably when senior guard Dez Wells fractured his wrist two weeks ago.

Not that Trimble seems to mind.

"Since Dez and Evan [Smotrycz] have been out, I've been the next leader to come up and it's been good for me," Trimble said. "I've started to become comfortable and more aggressive."

It has been a position Trimble has been in since his sophomore year in high school.

"I was on a young team my sophomore year and I had to be a leader, and ever since then I've been working on it," he said. "When I got here, Dez told me that I could be a leader too, not just him."

It has been evident in the way Trimble has become a more confident passer. Among his assists Wednesday night was a no-look pass to freshman center Michal Cekovsky for a dunk, a pass that Trimble whipped across his body.

After having more turnovers than assists (20-19) in his first eight games, Trimble has 11 assists and just three turnovers in the past two.

"I'm actually looking at a lot of film and looking at things I can do better," he said, "especially [working around] ball screens and spacing."

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