Tuesday night, the Maryland men's basketball team took the Xfinity Center floor in front of a star-studded crowd.
Prominent university attendees, such as Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, former coach Gary Williams, ESPN SportsCenter host Scott Van Pelt and Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis, lined the court. Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and owner Steve Bisciotti were there, too. And Maryland football coach DJ Durkin watched from behind the Terps' bench.
The celebrities were a few of the 17,213 fans in attendance who knew the Terps' clash with the Hoosiers was the most important game yet for a team that hasn't faced a ranked opponent.
And thanks to the 75-72 thriller over Indiana in College Park, one that featured guard Kevin Huerter's electric late-game plays and forward Damonte Dodd's stifling post defense, all of Maryland's notable guests left happy — except perhaps Harbaugh, who sat behind the Hoosiers' bench in support of coach Tom Crean, his brother-in-law.
The Hoosiers, who climbed as high as No. 3 in the rankings before a slew of recent defeats, were just as desperate — if not more than Maryland — to correct their lapses. Instead, the Terps, who have rebounded with two quality wins after starting the new year with a thud against Nebraska, secured their most impressive victory of the season.
During almost every timeout, the jumbotron highlighted another distinguished attendee to the delight of fans. But by the end of the evening, the roars came for the Terps' heroics.
As they jogged off the court, coach Mark Turgeon flashed a smile. Soon after, Van Pelt left through the same tunnel, pumping his fist to the beat of the school's fight song.
Guard Kevin Huerter: A
Crean admitted after the game the freshman, aside from All-Big Ten guard Melo Trimble, was the most important player in the Hoosiers' scouting report. Huerter's dazzling display, which included a lethal 3-pointer-to defensive rebound-to transition assist stretch late in the game, showed signs of Trimble's rookie magic. He finished the game with 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists, eliciting compliments from Turgeon that ranged from "terrific" to "big-time." If the teams meet in the postseason, Indiana might want to focus on Huerter even more.
Guard Melo Trimble: A-
After playing a supportive role Saturday against Michigan, Trimble returned to his leading-scorer role with 18 points to go along with two rebounds and three assists. Trimble was nifty at drawing whistles early in the game but endured foul trouble late in the half that hindered Maryland from building on its advantage. Still, the star junior was pivotal in helping Maryland overcome its second-half deficit with his late drives and free throws.
Forward Damonte Dodd: A
With forward Michal Cekovsky (ankle) missing his fourth consecutive game, there was legitimate worry about how Dodd would hold up as the Terps lone true center against Indiana's dominant post players. By the final buzzer, however, the anxiety had long vanished. Dodd tormented forward Thomas Bryant, a projected NBA first-round pick, and the Hoosiers' big men, posting six of the Terps' nine blocks and securing four offensive boards. He took the brunt of a nasty dunk in the waning seconds, but that didn't detract much from perhaps his best game of the season.
Forward Justin Jackson: B+
The rookie helped the Terps match Indiana's furious pace to start the contest, logging eight points and four rebounds in his first seven minutes. He slowed down as the game progressed, finishing 4-for-12 shooting with 11 points and six rebounds, but his physical presence on the wing and in the paint were an asset. Like his freshmen counterparts, Jackson has yet to show anything but poise and maturity through the start of Big Ten play.
Guard Anthony Cowan: A
After the game, Cowan couldn't hide his smile as he talked about his layup to put the Terps up by three with a little more than a minute left. Huerter, who secured the rebound to spark the transition score, had just declared to reporters Cowan was the fastest player on the court, so he expected the Bowie native to get behind Indiana's defense. Cowan grinned because he never doubted he would. The points capped a 15-point, three-rebound, two-assist, one-block performance from Cowan, and the sequence signified the duo's chemistry and confidence.