COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Two months ago, not even the players themselves expected Maryland to be this good so soon.
With their 70-58 victory over Minnesota on Saturday, the 12th-ranked Terrapins extended their winning streak to seven games and added another noteworthy accomplishment in the Big Ten to go with their double-overtime triumph at Michigan State on Tuesday.
Maryland (14-1, 2-0) is off to its best start since 1997. It seemed hard to imagine at the outset of the season, given the Terrapins were 17-15 last year and have four freshmen receiving significant playing time.
"I wouldn't have believed it, but I believe it now," freshman Melo Trimble said. "The way we're practicing every day and the way we come to the games focused and basically making defense a priority."
Trimble scored 20 points, and the Terrapins cranked up the defense in pulling away from the foul-plagued Golden Gophers (11-4, 0-2). Trimble missed 10 of 15 shots from the floor but went 9 for 13 at the foul line. Dez Wells added 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and sophomore Damonte Dodd had a career-high 12 rebounds.
After winning its Big Ten debut on the road, Maryland rolled to victory in its first home game in its new conference.
Although the Terrapins never trailed after the opening three minutes, Minnesota kept it close deep into the second half. But the Golden Gophers shot only 33.8 percent in their lowest-scoring outing of the season and were outrebounded 44-35.
Maurice Walker had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Carlos Morris scored 18 for the Gophers, who have lost two in a row after an eight-game winning streak.
The Gophers were called for 15 fouls after halftime. Maryland made 20 of 28 free throws overall after going 3 for 4 in the first half.
"Certainly, we fought back a couple of times ... but we just kept fouling," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino lamented. "You can't win like that."
That was part of a 9-0 run that made it 47-35 with 13:50 left.
The Gophers closed to 53-46 before Wells scored off his own miss and sank two foul shots for an 11-point lead with 7:27 remaining. Minnesota never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
"Our confidence is at an all-time high right now," Dodd said. "I don't think people expected us to be doing as well as we are, so we've just got to continue to build on this and keep getting better."
Knowing that the regular season extends into March, coach Mark Turgeon downplayed the 14-1 start.
"What matters to me is how we're playing, and I don't think we're playing as well as we can play," he said. "We've got to play a more complete game and be a little bit more consistent."