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No. 17 Maryland rallies to end road drought at Indiana, 77-76, behind Jalen Smith’s career-high 29 points

For most of the first half Sunday at Assembly Hall, it looked like the Maryland men’s basketball team was finally going to complete its Big Ten victory tour at road venues. The Terps, who led by as many as 14 points in the first half and by nine at halftime, had never won here since joining the league six years ago.

For much of the second half, it appeared as if the Terps were going to suffer another defeat to the Hoosiers on their venerable homecourt. But No. 17 Maryland scored the last seven points, the final two on a lay-up by sophomore forward Jalen Smith with 14 seconds left, to beat Indiana, 77-76.

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Smith, who finished with a career-high 29 points and 11 rebounds, also swatted away a potential game-winning tip-in after freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis missed a shot near the rim as the clock expired.

The Terps raced on to the court to mob Smith, but the celebration lasted a little too long and the normally sedate Baltimorean started taunting Indiana fans seated near the court. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon angrily pulled Smith off the court to the locker room.

Both Smith and Turgeon were quick to apologize for what happened after the game.

“Before I get started about the game, I want to apologize for Jalen, the way he acted after the game,” Turgeon said in his opening remarks at the postgame news conference. "It’s very uncharacteristic of Jalen. If you know him, he’s a great kid. It’s one of the best fan bases in the country, top five.

“Jalen feels terrible about it, I feel terrible about it. I tried to stop it when I saw it. But it’s not who he is. I want to apologize to Archie [Miller, Indiana’s coach], the team, Indiana nation. We’re sorry for the way we acted.”

Smith issued an apology on Twitter to Indiana and its fans, writing: “I want to sincerely apologize to all of Indiana’s fans and players for how I acted after. I let my emotions get the best of me and it won’t happen again. I have nothing but respect for all Indiana’s fans and players. Please forgive me and I wish you all the best.”

Asked what precipitated the outburst, Smith said: “The adrenaline was pumping and I let my emotions get the best of me. I apologize to all their fans, Indiana has a great crowd. Their fans are terrific, they stand within the whole game. I’m just they were just here for a great game. I just lost my emotions, I couldn’t control them. I got to do a better job the next game.”

The victory was the third straight for Maryland (16-4, 6-3 Big Ten) and second straight road win after losing its first four this season away from College Park. It followed an 11-point win at Northwestern on Tuesday, when the Terps erased a 14-point halftime deficit when Smith scored a then career-high 25 points to lead the comeback.

Senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. finished with 18 points and junior guard Darryl Morsell added 10 points and six rebounds for Maryland. Senior guard Devonte Green led Indiana (15-5, 5-4) with 16 points and helped give the Hoosiers, coming off a win over No. 11 Michigan State on Thursday, as much as an eight-point lead. But it was Smith, again, who carried the team to another comeback win.

“He’s walking around with a little more of a swagger in between games, and all that stuff,” Turgeon said. “He’s feeling good about himself ... He’s just more confident.”

Smith, who recorded his 11th double double of the season, continued his recent stretch of hot shooting, including from 3-point range. Smith hit his first five shots, including his first three 3-pointers, and finished 10-for-14 from the field and 3-for-6 from beyond the arc.

“Just a lot more confidence. My team has a lot more trust in me,” Smith said. “I’m making sure I’m always staying positive during the stretches when we’re down or up. I’m just making sure that I’m always focused.”

The same can be said for sophomore wing Aaron Wiggins, who after missing two straight open 3-pointers from the corner — normally his favorite spot to shoot — hit one from left wing to pull the Terps within a point with 55 seconds to go. It followed a turnover by the Hoosiers, when Morsell got a hand on the ball and Smith, his former Mount Saint Joseph teammate, scooped it up.

After Maryland’s defense, which allowed Indiana to score on its first 12 possessions of the second half, tightened again and forced Green to miss a mid-range jumper with 28 seconds to go, Turgeon eschewed a timeout. On a play that started as a pick-and-roll, Cowan softly lobbed a pass to wide-open Smith, who laid the ball in.

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“The difference in the end [from Maryland’s defense] was time and score,” Turgeon said. “We got lucky, we got a deflection [by Morsell]. ...'Stix' blocked a couple of shots on Trayce, and he might have been [thinking about it]. Who knows? But he got a good look. He was two feet [away]. I’m sitting there thinking, ‘They’ve made every shot. Damn, here we go again.’ It was our day.”

Said Wiggins: “We’re a resilient team. During the [last] media timeout, we told each other, ‘We’re going to fight for each other, we’re going to try to win this game.’ Everybody believed it, everybody said we were going to find the energy to fight. I don’t think there was that one point where anybody believed we were going to lose."

Maryland had lost all three games it had played at Assembly Hall since joining the Big Ten, the closest coming two years ago when the Terps blew a five-point lead in the last 4:51 and lost, 71-68. Now, after winning its second straight road game and third straight overall, Turgeon’s team has distanced itself from its disastrous loss at Wisconsin, when the Terps failed to inbound a pass with the lead and 13 seconds left.

“This is a crazy gym to play in with the fans, especially being right there on top of you,” Wiggins said. “This means a lot. I saw this being one of Maryland’s first wins [at Indiana] since joining the Big Ten. This is big for the program. This is a just a really good win for conference play, being in the top three, top four in the race for No. 1 in the conference. It just makes us a lot more confident in our abilities.”

Said Cowan: “We’re learning. I definitely think how we’ve been playing on the road early in the season, that taught us a lot. We took our losses, but we also learned from them. And that was the big reason how we were able to pull it out today.”

Iowa@No. 17 Maryland

Thursday, 8:30 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM

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