COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The Maryland men’s basketball team looked like two different teams from one half to the next Jan. 11, but despite going down by as many as 14 points to a talented No. 22 Indiana team (12-4, 3-2 in the Big Ten), the Terps turned an eight-point halftime deficit into a 78-75 victory.
"It was a great win. One of the best wins and I’ve been doing this a long time," head coach Mark Turgeon said. "Ever since I had this team in Italy this summer, there's something about them I can't explain. I think it's about how much they care about each other, how much they love each other and how they play hard for each other. There's just something in them."
Here are five takeaways from the Terps' second victory against a ranked opponent this season:
1. Another slow start put the Terps in a deep hole, but they dug themselves out again.
In what has become somewhat of a theme this season, the Terps started slowly yet again, shooting a paltry 4-of-15 (26 percent) from the field to start the game and digging themselves a 14-point deficit.
"To not start the game well again, we have to fix it," Turgeon said. "We have to do better."
They weren't helped by eight first-half turnovers, several of them unforced, which led to eight Indiana points.
When the Terps fell behind 28-14 in the first half, junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. took control, scoring six of the team's final 13 points to cut the deficit to eight at the break.
After halftime, Indiana senior forward Juwan Morgan rolled to the basket for an easy layup to put his team back up by 10. But then Indiana went ice cold, missing their next nine shots as Maryland went on a 16-0 run to take the lead and control of the game.
Cowan said the team played more freely in the second half, locking in on defense which led to easy transition baskets.
"[Cowan] helped us push the ball," Turgeon said of his team's run. "We just played with great poise, we got a shot every time, that’s important."
2. Bruno Fernando showed why staying a second year might have been the right decision.
In front of a host of NBA scouts, sophomore center Bruno Fernando had arguably his best game of the season, punishing the Hoosiers with his size and collecting five of the team’s 18 offensive rebounds. He finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and a block on the night.
The rejection, which came at the 16:36 mark, was soon followed by a vintage fast-break dunk that tied the game and raised the 15,017 fans at Xfinity Center out of their seats.
Later, Fernando called his own number and banked in his third career 3-pointer to push the lead to 67-58, showing his inside-out potential that makes him such an attractive NBA prospect.
"He is going to get double-teamed every game and he is just a mismatch for a lot of people," Cowan said. "When they double, I am just trying to work off of him."
He made up for a poor showing from his frontcourt teammate Jalen Smith, who was pushed around in the paint for much of the game. Smith finished 0-for-9 from the field with just two points.
"It was one of those nights. I felt bad for him because he's such a terrific player," Turgeon said of his star freshman forward. "It's humbling for him, but I love the kid, I know he's going to play great [against Wisconsin Jan. 14]."
Smith did make a difference on the glass with 10 rebounds.
Turgeon said it speaks to his team’s depth when a key scorer is held to two points and other players step up.
"It's huge," he said. "It should take the pressure off him and just needs to relax."
3. An insane game by Romeo Langford almost canceled out a stellar performance by Fernando and Cowan.
At halftime, Fernando, Cowan and Indiana’s blue-chip freshman guard Romeo Langford each had 8 points. After the break, each player imposed their will on the game for long stretches.
Langford scored 20 of his game-high 28 in the second half, scoring 10 of the Hoosiers' final 15 points down the stretch. His teammates failed to provide much support, as no other Indiana player had more than eight points after the break.
"Langford was as advertised," Turgeon said. "We couldn't guard him. We fouled him and kind of got him going."
Cowan and Fernando had 16 and 17 points, respectively, after the break, trading off the mantle of Maryland's main scoring option to score 33 of the Terps' 51 second-half points.
"They've both have improved so much," Turgeon. "I loved the poise we played with, that Anthony or Bruno had the ball in their hands almost every possession late in the game."
4. Maryland limited turnovers in the second half and dominated on the rebounding margin.
After the ugly first half, it appeared that Maryland was quickly headed to another double-digit turnover game. But thanks to strong guard play from Cowan and freshman guard Eric Ayala, the team had just one in the second half.
"We weren't doing that a month ago," Turgeon said. "We were turning it over 16 or 17 times. I know we only had one in the second half so that's big for us."
This is just the second time this season that the Terps have kept their turnovers in single digits. They committed eight turnovers Dec. 11 against Loyola-Chicago.
On the glass, the Terps were once again dominant, stretching a six-rebound advantage at halftime to 17 (42-25) by game's end. On the offensive boards especially, the Terps were unstoppable, grabbing 18 to the Hoosiers' three. Those extra possessions led to nine Maryland second-chance points.
"[We] just couldn't get it done on the glass," said Indiana coach Archie Miller. "That’s going to get you beat."
5. The team now carries a five-game winning streak into a difficult stretch of games.
This is Maryland's second victory against a ranked opponent, along with knocking off then-No. 24 Nebraska Jan. 2. The Terps have shown they can take a punch against an experienced and talented team and come back from it. They are now 5-1 in the Big Ten, with their lone blemish a two-point defeat at Purdue, Dec. 6.
The winning streak has come down to "commitment," Fernando said. "Everyone is sacrificing individual goals for the good of the team. … We are just making sure that everybody helps each other be successful on the court."
Since late December, this team has made marked improvement and where they go from now until the end of the season is exciting but unknowable, Turgeon said.
"We have huge upside," he said. "We talk about it in the locker room all the time. We’re in the middle of a serious grind right now -- not that there’s ever an easy game in our league -- but we're going every three days so we're not able to practice as much, but we are getting better in games. So that's good for us."
Their schedule doesn’t get any easier as they face Wisconsin Jan. 14, followed by visits to No. 16 Ohio State Jan. 18 and No. 6 Michigan State Jan. 21.
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