As frustrating as the Maryland men's basketball team's season has been for its fans, Minnesota's struggles have likely rankled Golden Gophers supporters even more.
Sure, Maryland has dealt with season-ending injuries to forwards Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender and posted its worst record through 20 games since 2013-14. After suffering road losses of more than 20 points to Michigan State and Ohio State, the Terps wasted a golden opportunity to earn a marquee victory away from College Park on Monday when it blew a lead in the final seconds to No. 23 Michigan.
But Minnesota entered the year as the No. 15 team in the nation and started 7-0 with respectable wins over Providence and Alabama. The program appeared set for its deepest postseason run in recent memory, an expectation the Terps couldn't claim after losing leading scorer Melo Trimble. Before facing the Terps at Xfinity Center on Thursday, however, the Gophers had gone 6-5 in their past 11 contests and dropped out of the top-25.
Minnesota's freefall made a contest once billed as a major test for Maryland into one of the Terps' easiest Big Ten wins. Coach Mark Turgeon's squad outscored the Gophers by 10 in the second half, throwing numerous alley-oops en route to a 77-66 victory.
Maryland's season hasn't gone according to plan thus far. But at least the Terps aren't coming apart in the same manner as Minnesota, which is on the verge of plummeting out of NCAA tournament contention.
Huerter showed his ability to score in a variety of ways, torching Minnesota for 19 points with catch-and-shoot 3-pointers in transition, pull-up jumpers and difficult layups. If the Terps' best outside shooter continues to refine other aspects of his offensive game, he has an NBA career ahead of him.
Cekovsky has often converted buckets early in games only to disappear offensively in second halves. That didn't happen against the Gophers. He followed up a quick start with five made field goals after the break, leading to a 17-point display.
This was not the 24-point showing Cowan put on against Michigan, as it took him until the second half to make his first basket. But the point guard did other things well early on, contributing 10 assists and six rebounds. His shooting form returned as Maryland pulled away, and he ended up with 15 points to complete an impressive all-around display.
For the first time in more than a month, Morsell shot better than 40 percent in consecutive games. After going 4-for-9 from the field against the Wolverines, he went 5-for-8 on Thursday. Taking just one 3-pointer between the contests is perhaps is a sign he's become more disciplined midway through conference play, a change that would greatly improve the Terps' offensive efficiency.
Tomaic has a skillset no other Terp possesses. At 6-foot-9, the redshirt freshman can use his size inside to gather rebounds and defend in the paint. But with a silky jumper, he can also stretch the floor at the other end with his outside shooting. His bench role has expanded with Jackson and Bender out, and he's responded by showing flashes of his potential as a game-changing substitute. On Thursday, he had seven points and five rebounds in a career-high 25 minutes, and he extended his streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to three.