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Career day for Damonte Dodd helps Maryland bounce back with 77-70 road win over Michigan

The near-week layoff for the Maryland men's basketball team might have seemed like a month the way the Terps had lost at home to Nebraska on New Year's Day.

Whatever Mark Turgeon did to revive his young team's seemingly fragile confidence after one of his toughest losses during the coach's six seasons in College Park seemed to work Saturday against Michigan at Crisler Center.

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With Melo Trimble struggling with his shot until late in the game, the Terps got 15 points each from Damonte Dodd and Justin Jackson as well as a season-high 12 points off the bench from Jared Nickens to beat the Wolverines, 77-70.

"We got after it in practice and it showed. We got a lot better," Turgeon said after the Terps won their first Big Ten road game for the third straight year. "Because we weren't getting better, we had so many guys hurt, we were down to nine or 10 in practice. We got a lot better in practice."

Asked whether there was an air of desperation coming into the game, Trimble said, "Oh yeah. We had a whole week we couldn't even play after losing that game. Just a lot of time to focus and redial in and get ready for this game. It showed today. We played with a lot of passion. We were tougher today and we won."

Maryland (14-2, 2-1 Big Ten) shot 10-for-15 from 3-point range, with Nickens going 4-for-4. Nickens, a 6-foot-7 junior, had been in a slump for most of the season. The Terps also got 11 points in the first half from the 6-11 Dodd to lead 37-28 at halftime.

"Once I started getting open shots and crashing [the boards], I think that opened up shots for guys because they had to pay attention to me," said Dodd, a senior who wound up with a career high in points.

Turgeon said the fact that Maryland built a double-digit lead in the first half and led by nine at halftime despite Trimble scoring just two points was good for his team.

It forced others to look for their shots, and it helped the 6-3 junior guard gain more confidence in his teammates when he was on the floor.

Recalling how the Terps had turned a tie game into a seven-point lead in the first half with Trimble on the bench, Turgeon said, "We started moving the ball and I think it was good for him. And then he got it going. He was really good. He trusted his teammates. That's important moving forward."

Trimble finished with 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting for Maryland, which got some much needed momentum going into Tuesday night's game against No. 25 Indiana at Xfinity Center. Trimble also added six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

"We just took a tough L to Nebraska. To come here and win on the road … it just gives us a lot of confidence and hopefully gives us a lot of momentum going into our next game. We have a tough opponent Tuesday," Trimble said. "To come out on top really means a lot to this team."

After building an 11-point first-half lead, the Terps seemed to revert to the offensive struggles and defensive lapses they demonstrated against the Cornhuskers, when Nebraska came back from 13 points down in the last six minutes to win by two.

In the first nine possessions of the second half, Maryland managed to score just one point on a free throw by Trimble as Michigan (11-5, 1-2) cut its deficit to one, 38-37. That's when Nickens hit his third 3-pointer of the game to give the Terps some breathing room.

Every time Maryland appeared ready to extend the lead back to double digits, the Wolverines would score, often from 3-point range. Michigan hit 16 of its 26 shots in the second half, including five of six by sophomore center Mo Wagner, who led the Wolverines with 17 points.

"We went through it against Nebraska; they made a run and we couldn't respond. They went 1-3-1 [zone] and we couldn't respond," Trimble said. "[Michigan] went 1-3-1 and we got them out of it right away; we got a layup for Ivan [Bender]. Every time they made a shot, we stayed [cool] under pressure and scored when we needed to."

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That was certainly the case late in the game when Jackson drove through the lane, his team ahead 71-68 going into the final minute. As he neared the basket, the 6-7 freshman ran into the 6-11 Wagner, endured the contact and was fouled as he hit a short shot to extend the lead to five, 73-68.

Asked whether he thought it showed that he is ready for a big stage in the Big Ten, Jackson said, "I guess, if you want to look it like that. I just looked at it as another basketball play to be honest. I tried to stay on my feet. I almost got a charge. Then I almost traveled. I felt like I was rushing a bit, but I gathered myself and went up strong."

Unlike last Sunday, when Maryland failed to score on its last nine possessions against the Cornhuskers, the Terps scored on nine of their last 11 possessions against Michigan. Maryland put the game away when Jackson and fellow freshman Anthony Cowan each hit both ends of a one-and-one in the last 30 seconds.

Turgeon knows as big a win as it was for his team's confidence, it only counts as one game in the Big Ten standings.

"It's a marathon," he said.

And after losing its way against Nebraska, Maryland was back on course.

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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