COLLEGE PARK — Melo Trimble isn’t the new guy taking the conference by storm anymore. In his second season, Trimble is the focal point for the University of Maryland Terrapins and opposing teams know it.
“Teams are starting to strategize against me and watch film on me,” Trimble said after leading the basketball team with 18 points in a winning effort against the Northwestern Wildcats, 62-56, on Tuesday night.
With the win, Maryland (17-2 overall, 6-1 Big Ten) keeps pace with Indiana and Iowa, who are undefeated in the conference. Northwestern (15-5 overall, 3-4 Big Ten) remains in the middle of the pack.
The star point guard has been able to break down defenses in a multitude of ways since he arrived in College Park last season. Against Northwestern, he used his ability to score. This past Saturday against Ohio State, he only took five shots and scored eight points but instead impacted the game with his passing, dishing out nine assists.
Northwestern tried to employ a matchup zone to slow down Trimble and the high-powered Terrapins offense but it wasn’t enough.
“He’s just a tough guy to guard, now he’s got so many weapons,” Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said in a press conference after the game. “He presents so many problems when he can get around you. He’s so shifty, if you put too many guys on him he’s going to hit Rasheed (Sulaimon), he’s going to hit Jake (Layman), he’s going to hit Diamond (Stone), he’s going to hit Robert (Carter Jr.), he’s a tough cover.”
Trimble added six assists and also had a block, a steal and a rebound. In two games against Northwestern, he has combined to score 42 points.
On the season, Trimble is averaging 13 points per game – three fewer than last season – but has upped his assists to five per game, which is two more than he averaged in his freshman season.
It’s still a learning process for Trimble, who had a chance to win the game with a buzzer-beating three-pointer on Tuesday as he did a week ago against Wisconsin. But instead he clanked the ball off the rim.
“(Coach Mark Turgeon) just told me go to the basket next time. He said a lot of other things but that’s all I heard,” Trimble said.
Seeing as how he made a season-high five three-pointers the last time the two teams matched up, the shot seemed like a good option.
“I jumped him pretty good. It’s funny. If the shot would’ve gone in, I wouldn’t have jumped him. But it didn’t go in,” Turgeon said in a press conference after the game.
Trimble made up for the miss in overtime by attacking the rim and setting up his teammates.
“In overtime (Trimble) was tremendous. He got baskets for Robert and Diamond. I thought his defense on McIntosh was unbelievable, that kids a good player,” Turgeon said.
Trimble is leaning on last year’s experience as he prepares to try and lift Maryland to new heights.
“We found out last year that every game in the Big Ten is going to be tough,” Trimble said. “All of my teammates believe in each other. They believe in me to go down and bring us home.”
Trimble and No. 7 Maryland will be tested again on Saturday when they travel to East Lansing to take on No. 11 Michigan State (16-3 overall, 3-3 Big Ten).
Maryland swept the regular season series against Michigan State last season but lost in the Big Ten Tournament to the Spartans.