One-hundred and forty-seven combined points and 15 lead changes kept an announced crowd of 17,213 at Xfinity Center on edge for much of Tuesday night's battle between two of the Big Ten's premier men's basketball programs.
Yet it was two freshmen, playing in their fourth-career conference games, who swung the momentum in Maryland men's basketball's favor in the final moments of its 75-72 win over Indiana.
There was Kevin Huerter — "1B" on Indiana's scouting report behind guard Melo Trimble, Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said — whose third 3-pointer gave the Terps a one-point lead with less than two minutes to play.
On the next possession, Huerter grabbed the rebound and had the vision to launch a two-handed outlet pass down court to fellow first-year guard Anthony Cowan, who converted the layup that forced Crean to call a timeout.
The Hoosiers didn't have a response to the rookies' late heroics. Their last-ditch three-point attempt clanged off the rim, allowing the Terps to celebrate their second straight win after Nebraska stole one in College Park on New Year's Day.
"I kept looking up 'Oh, we're only down three, we're only down four, we're only down two,'" coach Mark Turgeon said. "I kept telling the guys 'Hang in there, we'll get some stops.' And we did. Couldn't be more proud of our team."
Despite shooting 5-for-16, guard Melo Trimble led the Terps (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) with 18 points, thanks to shooting 8-for-10 from the free throw line. Much of the other offensive production came from Huerter, Cowan and freshman forward Justin Jackson, who combined to score 37 points. Blackmon paced the Hoosiers (11-6, 1-3), with 22 points, while guard Robert Johnson added 13.
Tuesday's game came a few days after Maryland's road win against Michigan and more than a week removed from its puzzling late-game collapse at home against the Cornhuskers. And Indiana may have given the Terps their toughest test yet. The Hoosiers (11-6, 1-3 Big Ten) climbed to No. 3 in the rankings before losing to Fort Wayne, and they validated that early-season hype throughout the game.
Guard James Blackmon Jr. slashed into the lane and hoisted several 3-pointers, each method resulting in points for the Hoosiers' leading scorer. Preseason All-American Thomas Bryant struggled offensively with the presence of forward Damonte Dodd (six blocks), but he still grabbed seven boards, a category the Hoosiers dominated in the first half. Guards Robert Johnson and Curtis Jones complemented Blackmon's production from the outside, combining to make 5 of their 10 three-point attempts.
After a back-and-forth race in the first half — Trimble's layup at the buzzer gave Maryland a 39-38 lead — Indiana seemed poised to take control of the contest after intermission. Blackmon's trey with about 12 minutes remaining put his team up five. A few minutes later, Johnson's triple rebuilt the advantage.
In both instances, the Terps responded.
"We just stuck around," said Cowan, who finished with 15 points. "The older guys really help us in these types of environments to really calm us down sometimes, so that's always really important for us."
Tied at 63 with about five minutes to play, Huerter drilled his second 3-pointer. The advantage lasted three possessions, as Blackmon responded with a shot from beyond the arc and then followed that with a layup.
Still, Huerter's make gave him confidence before his next attempt. Trailing by two, Maryland ran a play for Huerter similar to a look it used several times against Nebraska, when the 6-foot-8 guard poured in a career-high 26 points. So when he caught the ball on the left wing Tuesday night, Huerter didn't hesitate.
"He was fresh, he was feeling good, he was confident," Turgeon said.
But after that, Huerter was confused. He couldn't hear the play call through the raucous Xfinity Center crowd.
Nevertheless, he was in position to grab the rebound off Indiana's missed jumper and look down the floor. Turgeon has lauded Huerter's point-guard skills, and they were on display as he launched a chest pass for an assist that cushioned Maryland's gap.
"I always tell Anthony in practice 'Just take off when I get a rebound and I'll find you,' because he's the fastest guy on the court," Huerter said. "And I got the rebound and there was no one around, just threw it up and let him run after it."