College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - The 14th-ranked Maryland Terrapins begin a brief two-game homestand on Wednesday evening, as they play host to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a Big Ten showdown at the XFINITY Center.
Mark Turgeon's Terrapins have settled in nicely in their new conference, as the team is already a viable entity in the Big Ten in its debut season. Maryland comes into this contest with a stellar 15-2 overall record and has won eight of its last nine games. The team was last in action on Saturday, when it knocked off Purdue on the road, 69-60, to move to 3-1 in conference play. The Terps are 10-1 at home this season.
Eddie Jordan's Scarlet Knights have adapted to play in their new conference as well. The team is a modest 10-7 overall with a 2-2 mark in the Big Ten, but has won two of its last three games, including an impressive 67-62 upset of then fourth-ranked Wisconsin on Sunday, the highest ranked victory in school history. The Scarlet Knights are eyeing back-to-back wins over nationally- ranked foes for just the third time ever.
This marks the seventh all-time meeting in a series that dates back to 1940. The series is knotted up at 3-3. The last meeting resulted in a 95-79 Rutgers win in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl Classic in Tucson, Ariz.
The Scarlet Knights trailed by 13 points in the second half, but battle their way back by shooting a scorching .667 from the floor in the second half, propelling them to the monumental victory over the Badgers at the RAC. Myles Mack led the charge with 21 points in the victory. Kadeem Jack was a close second with 20 points, as Rutgers overall, shot .543 from the field, the best shooting percentage of the year for the Knights.
Offense hasn't come that easy for Rutgers this season. The team comes into this game netting a rather ugly 58.8 ppg, doing so on just .389 shooting. The team is last in the conference in both categories. Mack and Jack are the only two viable scoring options on the roster, averaging 13.8 and 12.6 ppg, respectively. The good news is that Rutgers remains competitive thanks to strong defensive play. The Scarlet Knights rank third in the conference in scoring defense (60.6 ppg) and sixth in field-goal percentage defense (.398).
That defense will be put to the test by a Maryland team that is offensively efficient if nothing else. The Terrapins are averaging 72.8 ppg on .451 shooting, while converting 74.9 percent from the free-throw line (third in the Big Ten). In addition, Maryland has played well defensively, leading the conference in field-goal percentage defense (.369), while limiting opponents to just 61.4 ppg. Freshman guard Melo Trimble has made an immediate impact. The 6-foot-3 youngster leads the team with 15.9 ppg and is tops in the Big Ten in free-throw percentage (.886 - 117-of-132). Junior forward Jake Layman adds 14.4 ppg to the mix, while pacing the team in rebounding (6.3 rpg). Senior guard Dez Wells (13.8 ppg) has returned from injury and is a scoring threat as well.
It was a balanced offensive attack that led to Maryland's road win at Purdue over the weekend. Four Terrapins notched double figures in the victory for Maryland, which shot only .375 from the floor, but held the hometown Boilermakers to an even worse .368 effort. Layman led the charge with 14 points, as he was an ugly 2-of-11 from the floor, but 9-of-11 from the charity stripe. Wells finished with 13 points, while Trimble and Richaud Pack added 11 points apiece. The game was decided at the free-throw line, where Maryland outscored Purdue, 27-13.