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What the Terps did well, not so well vs. Virginia on Wednesday

From now until the end of the season, we will look back after Maryland's big nonconference and Big Ten games at things the Terps did well and not so well and what could be difficult to correct.

Something Maryland can learn from after losing to Virginia

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Maintaining defensive intensity. Mark Turgeon and his No. 21 Terps talked after the 76-65 loss to No. 7 Virginia on Wednesday that a fairly young team needs to come out with more of a commitment to its defensive principles and a little more passion, especially when it comes to stopping the opposition.

In reviewing the game, Maryland started with two very good defensive plays. Senior forward Jon Graham challenged a short jumper by Anthony Gill on the opening possession, and grabbed the rebound. Damonte Dodd followed it by blocking Gill's follow shot on the second possession.

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It took a turnover by freshman guard Melo Trimble and a rushed 3-pointer by Jake Layman that led to two quick transition baskets for the Cavaliers and what eventually became an early 10-point lead for Virginia from which Maryland couldn't completely recover.

Neither Graham nor Dodd, after starting the game setting the tone for the Terps defensively, could keep it going. A lot of that had to do with the Cavaliers, as efficient as they are offensively, settling into their offense and finding holes in Maryland's defense.

Something Maryland can build on going forward

Two of the more impressive stats for the Terps on Wednesday night were turnovers and free throws.

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Against one of the nation's top defensive teams -- possibly the best when it comes to forcing opponents out of what they want to do -- Maryland didn't turn it over as much as it had in the first seven games this season. The Terps had a season-low seven turnovers.

While the Cavaliers don't turn force a ton of turnovers (an average of 11 per game before Wednesday), Maryland played with the kind of poise few teams that play as many as four freshmen (at the same time in a couple brief stretches) usually do. The Terps eventually started getting shots, especially driving to the basket.

Here's something to consider about Maryland's worst shooting night (16 of 40 overall, 6 of 18 on 3-pointers). That's probably the best defensive team the Terps will face all season. The Big Ten's image of being a physical league defensively is in the past.

The Big Ten has only two teams in the top 35 in scoring defense (Wisconsin at No. 6, Iowa at No. 35), just two in the top 35 in field-goal perecentage defense (Iowa at No. 13 and Maryland at No. 19) and two in the top 35 in terms of steals (Minnesota is No. 4, Iowa is No. 25).

As for the free throws, the Terps were 27 of 36 from the line and stayed in the game late in the first half largely on the fact that they made 10 straight before the break. Maryland had taken more free throws only once this season (41 in the season opener against Wagner, making 27.)

Trimble could be one of the best players in the country at any size or in any class at drawing fouls. Trimble didn't shoot well from the field (2 of 9 overall, 0 of 3 on 3-pointers) but he had his third high-volume free-throw shooting night in the last five games, making 12 of 14. He is currently 55 of 62 for the season.

Something that might take awhile to fix

As former Terps standout Tony Massenburg was walking out of the Xfinity Center, he had a disgusted look on his face. Massenburg, who transformed himself from a skinny jump shooter to a future NBA power forward by transforming his body and eventually his game, said: "We need some big men."

Maryland has some tall men in 6-foot-11 Damonte Dodd and 7-1 center Michal Cekovsky. But the lack of a physical presence inside, at least until next season when Robert Carter becomes eligible, could wind up hurting the Terps in the Big Ten. They were badly outrebounded (36-22) by a more physical Virginia team.

Dodd and Cekovsky helped Maryland beat then-No. 13 Iowa State last week in Kansas City, Mo., by controlling the inside and forcing the Cyclones to settle for jump shots in the second half. That didn't happen against the Cavaliers who, according to Turgeon, scored 18 of their 26 baskets on layups (or dunks or lob dunks).

I still liked the way Cekovsky battled and the fact that Dodd overcame a very slow start to make a little bit more of an impact in the second half. While getting Evan Smotrycz back will give the Terps a little more size and another capable rebounder, this ultimately might be Maryland's biggest weakness right now.

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