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Maryland men’s basketball shakes off offensive struggles in 72-59 win over Minnesota

COLLEGE PARK — The Maryland men’s basketball team faced Minnesota for a pivotal game on Valentine’s Day, but it felt more like Groundhog Day for the Terps.

Maryland dominated the Golden Gophers for the second time this season, this time in a near wire-to-wire 72-59 win at Xfinity Center on Sunday night.

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Four Terps scored in double figures, led by junior guard Aaron Wiggins’ 17 points. Maryland made 10 of 20 3-pointers and shot 52.9% from the field, its best shooting performance in Big Ten Conference play this season. It’s the first time the Terps scored 70 points in a conference game since a New Year’s Eve loss to Michigan.

“Offensively, we were good in the first half,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “We shared the ball, moved the ball, we cut, we got them spaced. And we’re hard to guard in that small lineup if we’re moving the ball and doing things the right way.”

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Maryland (11-10, 5-9 Big Ten) raced out to a start similar to its first meeting with Minnesota (13-8, 6-8), a 63-49 win for the Terps at Williams Arena. In that game Jan. 23, Maryland used a 12-1 run to take a 17-3 lead early in the game. On Sunday, a 14-0 run gave the Terps a 16-3 lead about six minutes into the game.

And again, Maryland attacked Gophers center Liam Robbins, landing him in early foul trouble. In the first meeting, Robbins played just 22 minutes and was held to six points. This time around, Robbins picked up two fouls less than five minutes into the game and logged 18 minutes as he recorded a season-low two points.

Gophers guard Marcus Carr, who entered Sunday as the Big Ten’s third-leading scorer (19.9 points per game) and had a game-high 25 in the teams’ last meeting, was held to nine points on 4-for-15 shooting from the field.

“We were definitely locked in from the jump,” Wiggins said. “Guys were locked in defensively. That’s always been our emphasis throughout the season. When we’re locked in defensively, we’re a really good team — and even when things can’t get going offensively. Tonight, everything was kind of clicking for us in the first half. We made shots, we were able to execute plays and defensively we were really good. We were able to carry over into the second half and our energy kept us going.”

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Maryland led by as many as 19 in the first half, its largest margin in conference play this season. Its second-largest margin, 16, also came against Minnesota in the first meeting.

The Terps made their first three 3-point attempts and hit their final five shot attempts of the first half as they led 44-28 at halftime.

The Gophers cut Maryland’s lead to as little as six, with an 11-0 run making it 65-59 with about three minutes remaining. But Wiggins hit a deep, contested 3-pointer as the shot clock was winding down and senior guard Darryl Morsell (13 points) made a reverse layup to give the Terps a 5-0 run and 11-point lead with 1:42 left.

“You hope that it gives them confidence moving forward,” Turgeon said as Maryland forges ahead to back-to-back home games against Nebraska and four games within a span of eight days.

NEBRASKA@MARYLAND

Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM

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