Lincoln, NE (SportsNetwork.com) - Finishing up their first season as a member of the Big Ten Conference, the 10th-ranked Maryland Terrapins make their first trip to Lincoln on Sunday evening to do battle with the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Maryland has come out firing against the rest of the Big Ten, after making the move from the ACC, posting 13 wins in 17 opportunities in order to lock down the second spot in the league standings with the conference tournament approaching. The team defeated Rutgers on the road Tuesday by a score of 60-50, extending their win streak to six in a row.
With 25 victories already this season, the Terps have increased their overall win total by eight over 2013-14, one of the best improvements from last season to this point among the schools representing the Power Five Conferences.
As for the Cornhuskers, another one of the recent additions to the league, they've struggled this season with only five wins in 17 chances. As a result, the team is third from the bottom in the standings. Nebraska has won just once in the last 10 games, suffering an eight-game slide at the moment after bowing to Illinois on Wednesday night, 69-57.
Maryland won the first and only meeting between the teams by a score of 69-65 at home last month.
Against a Rutgers team that is bringing up the rear in the conference, the Terps should have won by more than 10 points, but Maryland shot only 38.6 percent from the field, including 5-of-22 behind the 3-point line on the road. Dez Wells was on the floor for 37 minutes and finished with a double-double consisting of 20 points and 10 rebounds, not to mention four steals for the visitors. Jake Layman tacked on 14 points and Melo Trimble 10, although the latter converted just 3-of-13 from the floor.
The fact that Maryland is so high up in the standings in the Big Ten might be seen as a surprise, particularly when you consider the team is scoring only 66.1 ppg and giving up 64.7 ppg, allowing very little room for error. Trimble, who is shooting just 39.7 percent from the floor in conference, heads the scoring list with 16.1 ppg and is also tops with both 53 assists and 22 steals. Wells comes in with 15.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 47 dishes in an effort to get teammates involved in the action.
In a game that featured four ties and eight lead changes, Nebraska was ahead by six points only minutes into the meeting with Illinois at the State Farm Center, but was then behind by six at the break and never recovered. In addition to shooting only 5-of-20 behind the 3-point line, another telling stat for the visitors showed them being outscored at the free-throw line, 20-4.
Shavon Shields led the Huskers with 14 points, followed by Terran Petteway with 13 and David Rivers 10 points, while Leslee Smith provided eight points and nine rebounds in the losing cause.
For the season, Nebraska is scoring 61.3 ppg, but when it comes to conference play that number drops to only 56.9 ppg, as the team converts a mere 27.1 percent beyond the arc and is beaten on the glass by almost five rebounds per contest as well. Petteway and Shields generate 16.8 and 13.3 ppg, respectively, which means they account for more than half the team's output.