Minnesota has been through it this season.
They’ve won just once since Nov. 30th, and that win came against a Chicago State team that is currently 4-23 on the season.
It hasn’t been fun to be a Gopher, but what’s made it all the more difficult is that Minnesota is losing winnable games on seemingly a nightly basis. They entered Thursday having 17 of their last 18 games, but 12 of those 17 losses were by single digits, including seven of their last eight games.
They’ve been competing.
And on Thursday night, against the No. 6 team in the country, the Gophers finally broke through. Nate Mason had 18 points and six assists and Jordan Murphy chipped in with 17 points and 11 boards as Minnesota knocked off Maryland, 68-63.
The win elicited this reaction from Joey King:
That moment is precisely why we love college basketball.
But it came at the expense of a Maryland team that has the roster of a team that should be winning league titles and competing for the Final Four, not losing to a team that hasn’t won since Dec. 16th. It’s the second straight game that the Terps have lost — Wisconsin got them by 13 points in College Park on Saturday — but it’s far from the only time that this team has looked poor against a theoretically overmatched opponent.
To get an idea of just how bad this loss was for Maryland, think about it like this: Minnesota shot 6-for-30 in the second half. And won.
The issue of late has been Melo Trimble. In his last three games against Division I competition, Trimble is shooting 6-for-37 from the floor (16.2%) with 12 turnovers. On Thursday night, in the final two minutes — which, generally speaking, have been when Trimble has been his best at Maryland — he not only airballed a jumper but he committed a pair of ugly turnovers. That included botching a 3-on-1 break after Maryland was able to force a turnover with 30 seconds left and down 62-61.
But I also think it’s fair to wonder if this team simply just does not fit together. They don’t have a back-up guard that can spare Trimble or Rasheed Sulaimon. Jaylen Brantley is so far behind the curve that he’s had difficultly beating out walk-on Varum Ram for minutes. The only other wing on the bench is Jared Nickens, who has struggled this season, which means that the majority of Jake Layman’s time on the floor has to be at the three even if he’s a better fit playing as a small-ball four.
Even if Maryland wanted to keep Layman at the four, it may not be possible if they want to have their five best players on the floor. That’s what happens when you have two future NBA big men in Robert Carter Jr. and Diamond Stone.
In other words, I don’t know if there is a “fix” here.
But I do know this: a “broken” Maryland team is sitting at 22-5 overall. That’s not a bad place to be.