College Park, Md. — Nebraska’s final attempt to score had gone awry, and as the buzzer sounded, Maryland’s players rushed to the middle of the court to celebrate the team’s most significant victory of the season.
“We beat a really good team. We need that for a confidence builder,” coach Mark Turgeon said after the Terrapins used a late push to get past No. 24 Nebraska 74-72 on Wednesday night.
Bruno Fernando had 18 points and 17 rebounds, Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 19 points and freshman Jalen Smith accounted for Maryland’s final seven points to finish with 15, including a tiebreaking layup with 3.8 seconds left.
The Terrapins (11-3, 2-1 Big Ten) had previously lost to Virginia, at Purdue and at home against Seton Hall. Turgeon rarely misses a chance to point out that this is “fifth-youngest team in the country,” but he also knows that isn’t an excuse for losing.
“Our guys are doing great,” Turgeon said. “We’re getting better. I’m just glad we won.”
Maryland trailed 71-70 before Smith made a follow-shot off a 3-point try by Cowan with 28 seconds left. After James Palmer converted 1 of 2 free throws for Nebraska, Smith drove the middle of the lane for his decisive layup.
Following a timeout, Nebraska (11-3, 1-2) tried to work the ball up the court before Ricky Lindo Jr. knocked away a pass under the basket to seal it.
“It was extremely encouraging for all of us, just to see how far we’ve come,” Fernando said. “Wins like that mean a lot to us, to the coaches, to everybody at the whole University of Maryland.”
Palmer scored 26 points and Glynn Watson Jr. added 12 for the Cornhuskers, whose four-game winning streak ended.
Nebraska coach Tim Miles lamented his team’s poor free-throw shooting (15 for 23), lack of rebounding (Maryland dominated 38-28) and a defense that allowed the Terps to hit eight 3-pointers.
“You can’t give them eight 3s and not rebound. Pick one that you want to be awful at,” Miles said.
It was a tough loss to take, as was an earlier seven-point setback at Minnesota, but Miles accepted it as life in the Big Ten.
“You’ve got to look at it from a global, big-picture perspective and say, ‘This is just the way it’s going be,’” he said.
The final minutes went back and forth, with neither team able to take charge.
After a three-point play by Smith put Maryland ahead 70-67 with 2:42 left, Watson made two free throws and Palmer turned a steal into a dunk for a 71-70 lead with 2:13 remaining.
That would be the last time the Huskers were in front.
“You hear the celebration in the opposing locker room, and it’s disappointing because you probably played well enough to win but you just didn’t do enough little things,” Miles said.
The game was tied early in the second half before Maryland missed eight straight shots over a four-minute span while falling behind 47-39.
Fernando ended the drought with a layup and made another before Aaron Wiggins and Cowan drilled 3-pointers to cap a 10-2 run that tied it at 49 with 12 minutes left.
Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the way.
Smith struggled in the first half, scoring only three points in nine minutes.
“He wasn’t very good early, was he?” Turgeon said. “I was chewing on him, the assistants were chewing on him, and he responded.”
The Cornhuskers limited Maryland to 28-for-60 shooting. It was the 38th time in 39 games Nebraska’s opponent failed to exceed 50 percent, dating to last season. Minnesota topped 50 percent on Dec. 5 in an 85-78 victory.
Playing on the road in a loud arena, the Cornhuskers gave a tough Maryland team everything it could handle. But Nebraska needs to be more aggressive on the boards and against the Terps got only three players to the foul line.
The Terrapins must build on this victory rather than merely bask in it.
“We’re going to enjoy this one and move on,” Fernando said.
(At) No. 5 Kansas 70, No. 23 Oklahoma 63: Dedric Lawson had 13 points and 15 rebounds, Kansas’ young backcourt made enough crucial plays when it mattered, and the Jayhawks held off Oklahoma in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
Devon Dotson added 16 points and fellow freshman Quentin Grimes had 14 for the Jayhawks (12-1), who survived a nervy final minute to win their 28th consecutive conference opener.
The last time Kansas lost its initial Big 12 game was against Oklahoma on Jan. 8, 1991.
The Sooners (11-2) nearly turned the trick again Wednesday night, rallying just about every time the Jayhawks went on a run. And when Charlie Moore missed two free throws in the final minute, Aaron Calixte’s off-balance runner got them within 67-63 with 31 seconds to go.
Dotson made the second of two foul shots at the other end for Kansas. Calixte and Kristian Doolittle then came up empty for Oklahoma before Dotson made two more free throws to seal the win.
Lagerald Vick finished with 12 points for Kansas, despite an off night shooting the ball. He was 2 of 7 from beyond the arc, where the Jayhawks were just 4 of 21 as a team.
Brady Manek led the Sooners with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
(At) No. 6 Nevada 72, Utah State 49: Jordan Caroline scored 15 points and Nevada matched a school record with its 14th straight victory to begin the season, beating Utah State.
Cody Martin and Tre’Shawn Thurman had 14 points apiece in the Mountain West Conference opener for the Wolf Pack (14-0, 1-0), one of four undefeated teams in the nation.
Sam Merrill led Utah State with 16 points.
Nevada held the Aggies (10-4, 0-1) to 26 percent from the floor. They entered averaging 81 points per game on 48 percent shooting.
No. 11 Texas Tech 62, (at) West Virginia 59: Jarrett Culver scored all of his 18 points in the second half, and Texas Tech overcame some early shooting troubles to beat West Virginia in their Big 12 opener.
Matt Mooney added 14 points and Davide Moretti had 12 for Texas Tech (12-1).
Lamont West led West Virginia (8-5, 0-1) with 22 points. Derek Culver finished with 12 points.
Each of Texas Tech’s previous wins came by double digits. The Red Raiders had to scrape and claw to earn this one. The Red Raiders surrendered a nine-point lead in the second half. Moretti’s 3-pointer with 2:08 remaining put Texas Tech ahead for good, 55-54.
Culver, who played most of the game in foul trouble, scored six points in the final 41 seconds, and Moretti made one of two free throws with 3.3 seconds left for the final margin.
(At) No. 15 North Carolina 77, Harvard 57: Luke Maye scored 14 points to help North Carolina beat Harvard.
Cameron Johnson and Coby White added 13 points apiece in the Tar Heels’ final nonconference game. North Carolina led 44-39 early in the second half before pulling away with a 22-3 run. Harvard missed 11 consecutive shots from the floor as North Carolina extended its lead to 66-42 with 6:20 to play.
Nassir Little scored 12 points and Kenny Williams had 11 for the Tar Heels (10-3). Robert Baker scored 10 points for Harvard (6-6). The Crimson had 22 turnovers.
(At) No. 19 Houston 74, Tulsa 56: Corey Davis Jr. scored 21 points and hit six 3-pointers and Houston remained undefeated, beating Tulsa in the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
Houston (14-0) extended the longest home winning streak in the nation to 27 games.
Nate Hinton had 13 points and eight rebounds, and Galen Robinson Jr. added 10 points for Houston. The Cougars shot only 37 percent, but outrebounded Tulsa 52-40, including 16-9 on the offensive glass, and had an 18-7 edge in second-chance points.
Martins Igbanu had 18 points and eight rebounds for Tulsa (10-4). The Golden Hurricane shot 31 percent from the field, and had their five-game winning streak snapped.