University Park, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The 19th-ranked Maryland Terrapins land at the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday night to do battle with the Penn State Nittany Lions in Big Ten Conference action.
Maryland, one of the newest additions to the Big Ten, enters the weekend trailing only Wisconsin for first place in the league standings. The Badgers have won all but one of their 11 conference outings, while the Terps are 8-4 and tied with Ohio State and Purdue for the next spot. The last several weeks have been an issue for Maryland however, the program alternating wins and losses over the course of seven games.
The trend continued on Wednesday night when the Terps bounced back from a loss at Iowa last weekend with a narrow 68-66 triumph over Indiana at home.
Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions have a record of 15-10 overall but have been outstanding at home with 10 wins in 12 opportunities. Unfortunately, PSU is still one of the weaker programs in the Big Ten with just three wins in 12 chances and that has the group sitting third from the bottom in the standings. Wednesday night saw Penn State suffer a lopsided 75-55 loss at nationally- ranked Ohio State, the third defeat in four games for the program.
Maryland now leads the all-time series by a 10-8 margin, following a 64-58 victory at home earlier this month. Dez Wells scored a game-high 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor for the Terps, while D.J. Newbill tallied 18 points on a mere 6-of-19 from the field for the visiting Lions.
It wasn't pretty, but the Terrapins did just enough to slip by Indiana at the XFINITY Center earlier this week, making the team 5-0 this season following a loss. Leading the offense for Maryland were Wells and Melo Trimble with 18 points apiece, while Jake Layman dropped in 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor, adding seven rebounds in an effort to offset his five turnovers. The Terps made good on an impressive 10-of-21 behind the 3-point line and secured the win despite collecting only six offensive rebounds.
For a team that is nationally ranked and among the best teams in the Big Ten, it might be puzzling to learn that the Terrapins are actually being outscored in conference play. While it is not a huge margin (minus-0.8 ppg), it goes to show just how tough the league can be. Trimble leads the offense with 15.2 ppg, although he is shooting only 36.2 percent from the floor, and that in turn has brought the entire team down to only 39.7 percent in those 12 outings.
Against the Buckeyes at Value City Arena, Penn State fell behind right out of the chute and never recovered, shooting only 32.2 percent from the field and dealing with 15 turnovers, which OSU traded in for 21 points. Newbill accounted for 16 points in 35 minutes of the visitors, followed by Brandon Taylor with 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting behind the 3-point line. As a unit, PSU converted only 6-of-17 out on the perimeter.
On a team that is putting up 63.4 ppg in conference play, really the only true scoring threat from one game to the next is Newbill. Averaging more than 36 minutes per contest, Newbill is pouring in 19.9 ppg, having made 55-of-77 at the free-throw line. Responsible for 4.9 rpg and a team-best 35 assists. Newbill has made almost twice as many free throws as his closest teammate has even attempted versus the rest of the Big Ten.