Tourney recap: Xavier knocks Maryland out
No. 11 Xavier was too much for No. 6 Maryland, as the Terrapins fell 76-65 in its opening NCAA game. The Terrapins were fueled all season by junior point man Melo Trimble (full box score).
And freshmen Justin Jackson, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter played big roles in 2016-17 for a team that lost a lot of key personnel from last season, including Diamond Stone, Jake Layman, Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter.
And Mark Turgeon had the Terrapins in contention for the Big Ten title most of the season. But Maryland was beaten on the glass and didn’t shoot well. So, its season is finished earlier than expected.
Xavier has been one of the most underrated programs in the nation for years, as it is making its 11th NCAA trip in the last 12 seasons.
Top star: Maryland had no answer for Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett, who had a game-high 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting. The Indianapolis native hit 7-of-15 shots and 5-of-10 from 3-point range. He also had four rebounds and four steals. Bluiett was one of four Musketeers in double-figures. Maryland was led by Kevin Huerter, who had 19 points with four rebounds and five assists. The kid has a bright future.
Top stat: 34, rebounds for Xavier, compared to just 24 for Maryland. And the Musketeers hit 50 percent of their shots, while the Terps hit at a 40 percent clip. Melo Trimble had just 13 points and hit only 5-of-15 shots and 1-of-9 from 3-point land. Maryland needed more from its star.
It was over when …: Maryland had a 36-35 halftime lead. But Xavier took control in the second half behind the play of Trevon Bluiett, a dynamic junior guard who had 18 second-half points. Xavier went on a 21-4 run to take a 61-50 lead with 9:09 to go, the largest lead of the game for the Musketeers at that point. When Kaiser Gates made an emphatic dunk with 2:02 to go to make it 69-59, that basically iced it.
What’s next? Maryland has a lot to build around moving forward for a program that began this season 20-2. A big key: Will Melo Trimble come back for his senior year? If so, Mark Turgeon will have a formidable squad with Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan back as sophomores. Expect the Terrapins to once again contend for the Big Ten title.