Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon needs to schedule one of these mystery opponents more often, given the amount of "we" time his struggling team was able to get back home in College Park this week after losing four of its last six regular-season games.

Uncertain of which team the No. 18 and seemingly fading Terps were going to play in its first Big Ten tournament game until late Thursday night, third-seeded Maryland looked like a different team for much of Friday's quarterfinal against No. 11 seed Nebraska.


As things turned out at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Terps needed nearly all of the 25-point lead they had built with a little under 16 minutes left in the second half. After watching the big lead cut to six with 1:38 remaining, Maryland held on to beat the Cornhuskeers, 97-86.

Senior forward Jake Layman helped the Terps build their big lead to as many as 21 points in the first half by making his first five shots and scoring 17 of his season-high  26 points – one off his career high – by halftime. Freshman forward Diamond Stone finished with 23 points on 11-for-15 shooting to go with eight rebounds.

"I think all of us had fun today," sophomore point guard Melo Trimble said after an efficient 16-point, eight-assist, seven-rebound performance. "We didn't worry about missed shots. … It started with defense. We hadn't been playing great defense as of late, but we showed that today."

actually looked like it started – and ended – with offense.

The Terps set a Big Ten tournament record for points in a game, breaking the old mark set on four different occasions by three. Maryland (25-7) hit nine of its first 10 3-point shots – five by Layman – and made 13 of 22 overall, finishing one off the tournament record.

"Obviously we did a lot of great things offensively tonight," Turgeon said. "First of all, we followed the game plan. We played inside out. I knew they were going to double us. Our post played with great poise, Diamond and Robert [Carter]. And we made shots. We executed well, shared the ball, 20 assists. It was a great win for us."

The victory helped the Terps move into Saturday's semifinal against No. 2 seed and No. 2-ranked Michigan State, which crushed Ohio State, 81-54. That was on Turgeon's mind when he subbed out all his starters but senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon.

Playing its fourth game in six days and its third game in as many days after beating No. 14 seed Rutgers here in the opening round and upsetting No. 6 seed Wisconsin in the second round, Nebraska (16-18) seemed to have the Terps reeling as Turgeon was forced to put his starters back in.

"Maybe we let down a little bit. We were up 18, 20," Turgeon said. "But they never stopped. I subbed. I was trying to get some guys some rest for tomorrow and it backfired. But Damonte [Dodd] made a big play. It was a good call for us. He made the free throw, the back tip to Jake and the game was kind of over."

Turgeon was referring to Dodd drawing a foul trying to rebound a rushed and contested 3-point try by reserve wing Jared Nickens. Dodd, a 67.7-percent free-throw shooter who had taken just one foul shot in his previous nine Big Ten games, made the front end of a one-and-one with 54 seconds remaining.

The second free throw banged high off the back rim and Layman tapped it back out to Sulaimon, who was fouled and made a pair of free throws. After Nebraska guard Glynn Watson Jr. missed a corner 3-pointer, Layman got the rebound and was fouled. He also made both free throws to seal the game.

"We didn't shoot free throws well until the end, until we had to," said Turgeon, whose Terps made just 14 of 22 for the game. "I want to give Nebraska a ton of credit. They had a lot of fight in them. They never stopped playing. … They played hard. They made a lot of shots."

Said Nebraska coach Tim Miles, "I would like to give credit to Maryland. They played at an unbelievable pace and really played well. I think a lesser team would have maybe folded, but I thought our guys showed just grit, toughness, heart, soul … to battle back and put themselves in decent position … to win the game."

Maryland will have a much tougher task – some might think impossible – when it faces Michigan State (27-5). In their only meeting this season, Jan. 23 in East Lansing, Michigan State beat the Terps, 74-65.


Back then, the Spartans had lost three straight games and were coming off a home loss to Nebraska. The Terps were the hot team, having won nine straight and were considered one of the favorites to reach the Final Four. Now their roles are seemingly reversed.

"You can say they were the desperate team, they wanted to win the game, they were hungrier," Trimble said Friday. "Things have changed. We're hungry. I know they're hungry as well. I feel we're more hungry because of what we went through. We want to overcome everything before the NCAA tournament."

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