Terps close out non-conference slate against Grizzlies

Dec 27, 2014 - 3:23 PM College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - The 15th-ranked Maryland Terrapins play their last home game of the 2014 calendar year, as they welcome the Oakland Golden Grizzlies for a non-conference matchup at the Xfinity Center on Saturday.

The Grizzlies are in the midst of quite a gauntlet, as Maryland represents the fifth straight power-five conference foe for Oakland, all on the road. Oakland opened a grueling six-game road trip with a win at Morehead State (70-68 OT), but hasn't returned to the win column since, with four straight losses. The team was last in action on Dec. 22, suffering a 70-60 setback at Clemson. The loss to the Tigers dropped Oakland to a mere 4-9 on the year.

The Terrapins are gearing up for their first season in the Big Ten and hope to bring plenty of momentum into conference play, which begins after this contest. Mark Turgeon's squad has suffered just one loss on the season, that coming against former ACC rival Virginia (76-63) back on Dec. 3. Since then, Maryland has strung together four straight victories, including a 73-64 road win at Oklahoma State last weekend, improving its record to an impressive 11-1.

This marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs on the hardwood.

The Grizzlies had no answer for Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame, who netted a career-high 26 points in leading his Tigers to a 10-point win at home last week. Oakland fell behind by 10 points at the half and although the team pulled to within four points with under six minutes to play, the Grizzlies were unable to get out of Littlejohn Coliseum with a win. The loss spoiled a big game from guard Kahlil Felder, who finished with 22 points and six assists. Dante Williams added 10 points off the bench, but there was little scoring help elsewhere for the Grizzlies, who shot a collective .392 from the floor.

Oakland has been solid offensively this season, generating 73.4 ppg on an efficient .455 shooting. However, strong play at the defensive end has been non-existent. Foes are netting 79.2 ppg against Oakland and shooting .478 from the field overall. Felder, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, does it all for Oakland. He leads the team in scoring at 16.8 ppg and the entire nation in assists (95) and minutes played (506). Senior big man Corey Petros is a perfect complement with 14.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Tommie McCune and Williams round out the top scoring threats on the roster with 11.3 and 10.0 ppg, respectively.

Oklahoma State has lost just five non-conference home games since 1987 and Maryland now lays claim to one of those, as the Terps went into Stillwater and left with a nine-point victory. Junior forward Jake Layman played a huge role in the win, netting a season-high 21 points and grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the year. Freshman Melo Trimble added 15 points and Jared Nickens finished with 11 for Maryland, which held a 35-26 edge in rebounding over the Cowboys.

The Terps have been highly efficient on both ends of the court all season long. The team is averaging 75.1 ppg on .474 shooting, while giving up just 61.6 ppg and holding foes well under .400 shooting (.375) overall, including a mere .290 effort from 3-point range. Most teams would be in trouble after losing a top performer like Dez Wells (16.2 ppg), but the Terps are an impressive 6-1 since the 6-5 senior was lost to a hand injury that required surgery a few weeks ago. Layman and Trimble have been huge in Wells' absence, coming into this game averaging 15.8 ppg apiece.

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