On Sunday afternoon, the Nebraska Cornhuskers kicked off the new year with a road trip to the east coast, where they would take on the Melo-Trimble-led Maryland Terrapins. With Nebraska coming off an unexpected victory over No. 16 ranked Indiana this past Wednesday, and Maryland picking up its thirteenth win of the season over Illinois, there was no denying the implications of this Big Ten matchup.
In this back-and-fourth battle, guard play was crucial on both sides of the floor.
Nebraska came out hot in the first half, shooting 48 percent from the field with Glynn Watson Jr. contributing 12 points. After connecting on just eleven of their thirty-three shots in the first, Maryland brought the score to 53-65 in second with a surge of baskets from Trimble and Kevin Huerter. However, Nebraska would shock the Big Ten once again as they went on a 14-0 run in the second to close out the game, 67-65.
Let’s see what we learned from the game.
What We Learned
1. Nebraska is capable of competing with top Big Ten teams.
Nebraska’s 87-83 win over Indiana this past week may have, to some, appeared to be “lucky.” After being faced with a difficult out of conference schedule this season, where they took on then ranked No. 14 UCLA, No. 10 Creighton and No. 3 Kansas, Nebraska finally seems to have found their identity.
The Cornhuskers clearly have two elite guards in Tai Webster and Glynn Watson Jr., that they can look at to lead them to victories. Webster’s defensive ability is something that can plague an elite player’s performance. Webster was able to hold Trimble to just 14 points on 5-15 shooting from the field. The team’s ability to play as one will continue to benefit them in the future. In Nebraska’s last two games against Indiana and Maryland, three or more players have scored in double figures. The unselfishness of this team will help bring them a long way.
2. Maryland must capitalize on leads.
After escaping against teams like Georgetown and Kansas State, Maryland was unable to work their fourth quarter magic in their second Big Ten game of the season. In the final moments of the second half, Melo Trimble could simply not produce for Maryland, as he failed to connect on his last-second shot attempt. In order for Maryland to have success against elite competition this season, they can’t solely rely on Trimble.
In the loss to Nebraska, Trimble went into halftime with just 3 points on 1-5 from shooting. Although his talents might be exceptional, when he is unable to produce, others must step up to the plate. Guard Kevin Huerter, could be a possible solution to the problem after he contributed 26 points in the loss.
With Trimble and Huerter being the only two Terrapins to notch double figures on Sunday, others must quickly follow in their footsteps. It’s important that Maryland finds other reliable scorers to consistently put points on the board. If the Terrapins can find other dependable options, expect big things from them in the future.
3. Nebraska’s big men are a force.
In order for this team to continue winning, every player must acknowledge their role. Two players who know their role all too well, are Forwards Ed Morrow and Michael Jacobson. After both neared double-double performances against Maryland, their presence in the paint must be noted. In Nebraska’s previous win over Indiana, Morrow was able to grab ten boards while Jacobson brought down seven.
Both are two of the top-ten rebounders in the Big Ten, and have gone head-to-head with top-tier big men. If these two can continue to play the way they have in recent games, Nebraska should have no problem picking up a surplus of Big Ten wins.
Nebraska is capable of winning many conference games this season, should their guards continue to rise to the occasion. Maryland must find other reliable scorers to step up, when their star is unable to produce. While Maryland looks for a quick turnaround against Michigan, Nebraska hopes to keep their undefeated conference record alive against Iowa.