COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A middle-aged man walked behind the Maryland bench at halftime of Saturday’s game against Michigan State, the man flashed a big smile on his face and a red T-shirt that read “Stay Melo”
By then Melo Trimble, the freshman point guard for Maryland, already scored 21 of his game-high 24 points as the Terps built up a 14-point halftime lead.
By halftime, there were plenty of people with smiles on their face in College Park as Maryland cruised to a 75-59 win against Michigan State before a sellout crowd of 17,950 fans.
“It was just dropping for me,” said Trimble, who a year ago was playing for Bishop O’Connell High in nearly Arlington, Va.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo had high praise for Trimble, who made eight-of-16 shots from the field, including six-of-11 from 3-point range.
“He is the straw that stirs the drink. There is no question about it. He gets people involved. He has an incredible ability to get to the free throw line. I am not sure he is that good of a three-pointer shooter all the time, Izzo said.”
Said Trimble: “Tom Izzo is a big name coach; to get that kind of compliment from him is really good.”
Forward Jake Layman had 23 points and 12 rebounds and guard/forward Dez Wells had nine points, five assists and three rebounds while playing stellar defense. Layman was 11-of-12 from the free throw line and has 25 rebounds in his last two games.
“I was just getting back to my old ways,” Layman said of his moves in the paint.
It was the first repeat opponent in the Big Ten for Maryland, which left the Atlantic Coast Conference after last season.
“It feels great. We keep getting better. Today was a step in the right direction. I think people are excited, they should be,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. “It was a fun win. The crowd had fun, the players had fun. You have to give our defense pretty good credit too.”
Reserve forward Evan Smotrycz, a transfer from Michigan, made back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 57-40 with 12:21 left. Trimble then connected on yet another 3-pointer, his sixth of the game, to make it 60-40. The Terps were never challenged from that point forward.
Maryland improved to 17-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten, while Michigan State fell to 12-6, 3-2. The loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Spartans.
“My leaders have to play better. We really struggled; you are not going to beat a good team when you do stuff like that,” Izzo said. “Maryland played hard. They played better. Give them credit. We were pitiful. But they were really good.”
Michigan State forward Branden Dawson had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and reserve forward Matt Costello had eight of his 12 points in the first half for the Spartans.
Guard Travis Trice of Michigan State entered the game averaging 14.3 points per game, but was held scoreless in the first half and had five points. Guard Denzel Valentine had nine points and five assists but was 1-of-5 from 3-point land.
The Terps got the ball back on a Michigan State turnover late in the first half and Trimble buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2.5 seconds left to give Maryland a lead of 40-26 at the break.
“He is a humble. He will handle it the right way,” Turgeon said of Trimble. “Today he had one of those games he is capable of doing. He will keep getting better.”
The Terps won at Michigan State in double overtime, 68-66, on Dec. 30 in the first Big Ten game in school history for Maryland. Now they are 2-0 against one of elites in the conference.
“It is a great win. We were really good. The crowd was terrific. They gave us great energy. We fed off of it,” Turgeon said. “Our guys know when a guy is hot and who to go to.”
And on Saturday that hot guy was Trimble, who may help boost T-shirt sales around College Park.
NOTES: Maryland was coming off a win at home on Wednesday against Rutgers,
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