COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) As the clock ticked toward zero, Maryland freshman Melo Trimble had one sensational play left to make in a remarkable first half.
Dribbling the ball to the top of the key, Trimble performed a crossover dribble so impressive that his defender, Lourawls Nairn Jr., lost his balance. Trimble then buried the 3-point shot as the buzzer sounded, bringing an even higher level of volume from the sellout crowd of 17,950.
With Trimble leading the way, No. 14 Maryland breezed past Michigan State 75-59 Saturday to sweep the season series and gain sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
Trimble scored 21 of his 24 points in the first half, which ended with the Terrapins ahead 40-26. The margin swelled to 20 with 10 minutes left.
”Great win,” coach Mark Turgeon said. ”That’s what I’ve been waiting for. I don’t think we’ve played our best basketball recently, and our guys stepped up and really played well.”
In the first game between the teams, Maryland escaped with a double-overtime victory on Dec. 30. This one was all but over after Trimble juked Nairn off his feet and drained the shot.
”Things were just dropping for me,” Trimble said.
It was highlight reel stuff, except perhaps for those who see the 6-foot-3 point guard perform on a daily basis.
”I’ve seen Melo do that many times, and it doesn’t shock me,” Turgeon said.
Trimble had help. Jake Layman had 23 points and 12 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season and second in a row. But credit this victory to Trimble, who made seven of 11 shots in the first half, including 5 for 7 from beyond the arc.
”I have to say he’s the straw that stirs the drink,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. ”He gets other people involved. Once in a while, he’s almost casual out there. He doesn’t really look to do much. He just gets people involved. He’s as good as I’ve seen in a while.”
Maryland (17-2, 5-1) sank 11 3-pointers and limited the Spartans (12-6, 3-2) to 3-for-17 shooting from beyond the arc. Another factor: Maryland went 20 for 22 at the foul line and Michigan State was 4 for 13.
Izzo used the words ”awful” and ”pitiful” to describe his team’s performance.
”That was an inept performance by us on a big stage,” he said. ”That doesn’t happen very often. That is on me.”
Playing its first season in the Big Ten, Maryland moved a half-game ahead of idle Wisconsin for the top spot and handed Michigan State its most-lopsided defeat of the season.
Branden Dawson had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans and Matt Costello scored 12. Michigan State had won three straight since losing to Maryland.
”We didn’t make layups. We didn’t guard,” Izzo said. ”Very disappointing. Every time I think we take two steps forward, we take one step back.”
The Terrapins didn’t need any offense from Dez Wells, who came in averaging 14.1 points but didn’t score until sinking a layup with 14:39 left.
The basket put the Terps up 50-37, and Wells followed with a 3 that boosted the margin to 16 and effectively ended any shot the Spartans had of making a comeback.
Michigan State: Dawson played without a brace above his left hand for the first time since he fractured his wrist Dec. 17 against Eastern Michigan. He missed games on Dec. 20 and 22 before returning with a brace against the Terps.
Maryland: The Terrapins used their eighth different starting lineup. Sophomore Damonte Dodd was replaced by Jon Graham, who missed his first two shots and was taken out for Dodd with just over three minutes elapsed.
UP AND DOWN
Michigan State: Travis Trice, who had a Spartans-leading average of 14.3 points per game, finished with five on 2-for-8 shooting.
”My leaders have to play better,” Izzo said.
Trice was guarded for the most part by Trimble, who said, ”I really wanted to … play great D on him because I knew it was going to be an important part of the game.”
Maryland: Layman scored four points in the first game between the teams. In this one, he was overshadowed only by Trimble.
”We took advantage of (Layman’s) matchups today and he was smart about it,” Turgeon said. ”What makes it look better is that he finishes when those plays happen.”
Michigan State hosts Penn State on Wednesday.
Maryland travels to Indiana on Thursday.