What We Learned After Oklahoma State

No. 17 Maryland (11-1) went into Stillwater, Okla., and knocked off Oklahoma State, 73-64, Dec. 21. Here’s what we learned following the latest Terps victory.

No. 17 Maryland (11-1) went into Stillwater, Okla., and knocked off Oklahoma State, 73-64, Dec. 21. Here are five things we learned following the latest Terps victory.

Trimble Isn’t Fazed

Before the game, one of the main questions was how freshman point guard Melo Trimble would handle the raucous Gallagher-Iba Arena crowd. He hadn’t flinched yet this season, but Oklahoma State represented a different animal.

But once again Trimble rose to the occasion as both a facilitator and a finisher. He was just 4-of-10 from the field, but he ended up scoring 15 points, knocking down all seven of his free throws, dropping four dimes, recording four rebounds and nabbing two steals.

Trimble did turn the ball over four times as the Cowboys ramped up the full-court pressure, and he took one or two questionable deep threes, but for the most part the freshman refused to cower.

A particularly telling sequence came directly after the under-four-minute media timeout in the first half, with the Terps up just one, 21-20.

Oklahoma State counterpart Phil Forte III was playing tight defense, so Trimble broke him down off the dribble, sliced down the lane, drew a foul and converted a layup. Twenty seconds later, Trimble swiped the ball from Forte, started the team in transition and fed Evan Smotrycz, who found Dion Wiley for an open triple.

OSU proceeded to go right down the floor for an easy deuce, but Trimble returned the favor by beating Forte for yet another layup, prompting the Cowboys to call a timeout. Oklahoma State did not get closer than five points the rest of the game.

Trimble’s best work, though, came as a ball-handler, once again providing a calming effect in Maryland’s half-court sets. The Terps turned the ball over just five times in the first half, and much of that was thanks to Trimble’s ability to deal with the OSU defense.

Then, in the second half, Trimble had two key assists that allowed UMD to stretch its lead to double-digits. First he drove the lane, drawing two OSU defenders in the process. But instead of attempting an awkward layup, he kicked the ball to Jake Layman, who nailed the open three. Less than a minute later, following a Damonte Dodd steal, Trimble found Layman streaking down the lane for a thunderous dunk.

And when the Cowboys made one last charge, climbing to within 67-61 late, Trimble calmly nailed four straight free throws to keep the opponent at bay.

Layman’s Not Lacking

Terps junior forward Jake Layman had one egregious error at the end of the first half where he attempted to bust through practically the entire OSU defense, leading to a turnover and a seemingly-momentum-swinging Cowboys three-pointer. But other than that, Layman once again played the part of veteran leader.

After scoring just five first-half points, Layman came up clutch in crunch time, finishing with 21 -- including drilling 7-of-12 from the field and 3-of-5 from deep -- hitting all four free throws, grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds, dishing out two assists and recording three steals.

Three times during the second half Layman answered an Oklahoma State charge with a crowd-silencing shot. Two minutes in, following a Cowboys three, Layman sank a triple of his own, giving UMD a 43-30 advantage.

Then, at the 8:58 mark, OSU cut the lead to 10 when Michael Cobbins jacked up the fans with a dunk, but Layman once again stepped up with another three-pointer. Thirty-eight seconds later, Layman one-upped Cobbins by throwing down a slam of his own.

But his most important bucket may have been when OSU was making its furious comeback with less than five minutes to go. Anthony Hickey had just drilled one from downtown to draw within 61-51, but Layman immediately came back with another dunk to put the Terps back up by 12.

The junior forward might have been even more effective defensively, his length giving two Cowboys forwards all kinds of trouble. Sophomore Leyton Hammonds ended up scoring just two points in 16 minutes, while freshman Jeff Carroll didn’t have a single bucket in 13 minutes.

Layman even helped force two Phil Forte turnovers to start Maryland’s 13-3 second-half-opening run. First, he wrestled the ball away from Forte, leading to a Jared Nickens three, and less than a minute later he picked the OSU point guard’s pocket, this time going coast-to-coast for a layup.

’Pack’-Line Defense

Cowboys point guard Phil Forte came into the Dec. 21 contest averaging 17.1 points per game. A deadeye three-point shooter and assist man, not to mention an active defender, Forte had one of his least effective outings of the season thanks to Maryland guard Richaud Pack’s defense.

And you wouldn’t know it just by looking at the box score. Pack didn’t record a single steal, but he basically lived in Forte’s hip pocket throughout, frustrating the Oklahoma State point guard with his ability to cut off driving lanes; swat at the ball like a pesky fly; and fight through screens when Forte attempted to gain separation. When Maryland went on its 13-3 run to begin the second half, the normally steady Forte turned the ball over twice, both a direct result of Pack’s defense. (The Terps ended up spinning both hiccups into a wide-open dagger three-pointer from Dion Wiley and a Layman layup.)

Forte did score 13 points, but he was just 4-of-11 from the field and turned the ball over four times. Of those 13 points, Pack was only responsible for surrendering about six of them. (When Forte canned a three at the end of the first half, cutting Maryland’s lead to 32-27, Melo Trimble was guarding him.)

Perhaps most telling was when Terps coach Mark Turgeon yanked Pack with UMD ahead 49-35 at the 13:31 mark, and Forte immediately jacked up two wild jumpers with Dion Wiley on him. They were clearly frustration shots, almost as if Forte felt he had to get the ball up with Pack on the bench.

In addition to his lockdown defense, Pack also pulled down 10 rebounds, a direct result of Oklahoma State’s long threes caroming off the rim.

It should be noted that Pack did not have a terrific effort offensively. He finished just 1-of-5 from the field (five points), took a couple ill-advised shots and turned the ball over twice. When Turgeon allowed Pack to run the point in place of Trimble, the former struggled beating the Cowboys’ defense -- most egregiously when he had his pocket picked at the 5:20 mark and OSU answered with a three to draw within 60-51.

Ball Spacing, Ball Movement

Spacing and ball movement are two of the main reasons Maryland is sitting at 11-1, and for the majority of the game the Terps put on a clinic in both areas. Oklahoma State is known for its aggressive, bulldog defense, but the Terps handled it well until the Cowboy’s full-court pressure resulted in a handful of turnovers later.

That aside, UMD once again moved the ball in its half-court sets, both around the perimeter and inside-out. The Terps rarely jacked up wild shots; they passed up somewhat-contested looks for open teammates, used a variety of cuts to create space, and came hard off ball screens for the pick-and-pop.

At times, Oklahoma State looked tired, puzzled or both as the Cowboys attempted to switch defenders and keep up with the active UMD players. The Terps ended up shooting 45.3 percent on the afternoon, and 38.5 percent from three-point range.

Several examples of Maryland’s spacing/ball movement leading to open jumpers:

Setting the tone out of the gate, freshman wing Jared Nickens came off a ball screen, took a pass from freshman point guard Melo Trimble and knocked down a trey.

In the waning minutes of the first half, following a Trimble steal, the Terps’ point guard hit Evan Smotrycz at the elbow. Instead of making a move, Smotrycz quickly shoveled the ball over to Dion Wiley, who drained a corner triple.

Also in the first half, Jake Layman took a pass in the corner, drove the lane, drew in two defenders and found Smotrycz for an open three. Thirty-seconds later, Smotrycz reciprocated, finding a streaking Layman for a dunk after three other Terps touched the ball.

Dodd Delivers (Sometimes)

Sophomore forward Damonte Dodd didn’t have his best game against Oklahoma State, but he was the Terps’ most effective big man. Still rather mechanical on the offensive end, Dodd broke out some newfangled moves Terps fans hadn’t really seen before.

Early in the game, the 6-foot-10 power forward made a strong move down the lane and finished with a rim-rattling dunk. Later in the half, Dodd got a step on his man with a nifty face-up move before driving in for a layup. Then, in the latter frame, Dodd threw down his second dunk of the afternoon, giving him his six points.

And while Dodd did have his share of problems guarding Cowboys forward Le’Bryan Nash (17 points), the former also got the better of the latter his share of times. Dodd wrestled the ball away from Bryan at the 4:13 mark of the first half and then converted a layup on the other end. One possession later, Dodd learned from an earlier mistake by cutting off a Bryan drive, altering the dynamic OSU scorer’s shot.

In fact, of the three main Maryland paint presences (Dodd, Michal Cekovsky and Jon Graham), Dodd was the Terps’ most effective rim protector Dec. 21. He finished with just one block, but did a good job denying the Cowboys’ frontcourt easy looks.

Now, it’s true Dodd wasn’t as active on the glass as he recorded just one rebound and none on the defensive end. He also picked up three early fouls, forcing Turgeon to pull him for long stretches (Dodd played 22 minutes). Dodd then added his fourth foul with 7:21 to go in the second half; he barely saw the floor the rest of the way.

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