Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Illini Stumble in Big Ten Opener vs. Maryland

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Illini Stumble in Big Ten Opener vs. Maryland

Article excerpt

COLLEGE PARK, Md. * Maryland coach Mark Turgeon didn't expect to be part of a 25-point game in Tuesday's Big Ten opener against Illinois. Neither did Illini coach John Groce.

Turgeon was the only one of the two who was pleased at the surprise.

Melo Trimble scored 20 points, Jaylen Brantley added 13 and Anthony Cowan had 12 points and six assists as Maryland routed Illinois 84-59.

It was the sixth victory in a row for the Terrapins (13-1), who have won their conference opener in all three seasons since joining the Big Ten.

"I didn't see it coming," Turgeon said. "I didn't think the numbers were going to be the way they were. Guys were dialed in. They were fresh. We took four days off over Christmas break. I said 'Guys, a lot of people wouldn't do this, but it's such a long season. We're going to be fresher tonight.'"

Malcolm Hill had 21 points for the Illini (10-4), who saw their six-game winning streak end.

"I didn't see it coming," Groce said. "We've had great effort, great attitudes, really practiced well and played well and kept playing better. ... At the end of the day, to me it's about quality possessions. We didn't have enough of them today and we'd had a lot of them recently."

Maryland played without two of its top post players. Junior Michal Cekovsky rested a left ankle injury, and senior Damonte Dodd missed his fifth consecutive game with a sprained left knee ligament.

Their absences mattered little against the Illini, who never led and were outscored 48-24 in the lane as Maryland's guards drove to the basket with ease.

After both teams struggled in the early moments, Maryland uncorked a 10-0 run to seize a 15-4 lead. The Terps' lead would never shrink below nine points, and Maryland held a 39-23 edge at the break and shot 55.9 percent for the game.

"I was really pleased looking at the scoreboard and seeing we were up by a lot, especially in the first half," Trimble said. …

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