COLLEGE PARK – There’s no place like home for the Terrapins men’s basketball team. Maryland boasts a 25-game winning streak at the Xfinity Center that dates back to Dec. 6, 2014.
The source of the Terps’ overwhelming home-court advantage is the raucous, sold-out crowds that routinely shake the rafters of Xfinity. Coach Mark Turgeon lauded the fans for their role in Maryland’s 74-68 win over then-No. 3 Iowa on Jan. 28.
“I was proud of the fans,” Turgeon said. “The students came out and gave us a huge lift in the game.”
Heading into their fourth matchup with a ranked opponent this season in No. 18 Purdue on Saturday, the Terps have plenty of success on their home court to draw on against a big, physical Boilermakers squad.
The victory over the Hawkeyes was the first top-10 matchup ever played on the Xfinity floor and the Terps’ first win against a ranked opponent this season. Turgeon’s squad has struggled in top-25 matchups on the road, losing to then-No. 9 North Carolina on Dec. 1 (89-81) and then-No. 11 Michigan State on Jan. 23 (74-65).
Maryland saw the other side of a game-changing crowd in their loss at Michigan State. The neon-green-clad fans rattled the Terps on a night when the team had a poor showing on the glass with only 9 offensive rebounds to the Spartans’ 17.
Turgeon told reporters after the Iowa game while “everybody that cares about Maryland basketball was in a panic” after the Michigan State game, he and his squad kept their cool and took two days off to recuperate. Forward Jake Layman said learning from the loss and the two days off were integral in bouncing back against Iowa.
“We are a very resilient group and we learn from our losses,” Layman said. “We try to come out with same energy every game. It’s definitely better when you have your home crowd with you.”
The fresh-legged Layman didn’t give fans much of a show on offense against Iowa, going 5-of-15 for 11 points. But the senior, along with forward Robert Carter Jr., were workhorses on the defensive end, holding Iowa’s leading scorer and front runner for Player of the Year Jarrod Uthoff to 2-of-13 from the floor and a season-low nine points.
Guard Rasheed Sulaimon said he thought the couple of days off were pivotal for more than just rest and allowed the team to bond over players-only meetings and team dinners.
“It’s a fine line from being a good and a great team,” Sulaimon said. “And I think the little things like the chemistry and stuff like that makes a big difference.”
Upsetting ranked opponents at home is nothing new for the Terps. Maryland has beaten a top-five-ranked team at home in each of its last four seasons: No. 3 Iowa (2015-16), No. 5 Wisconsin (2014-15), No. 5 Virginia (2013-14) and No. 2 Duke (2012-13).
After failing to make the NCAA tournament in Turgeon’s first three seasons, Maryland made a quick turnaround, advancing to the Round of 32 last March. The team now stands as a legitimate contender for the national championship.
But the narrow win over Iowa was a milestone of maturity for the program and its fans. Instead of flooding the court as in seasons past, students remained in the stands and took in the night’s victory in stride.
In Turgeon’s five-year tenure, Maryland fans have grown with the team’s successes, from suffering with an underdog mentality to acquiring a healthy expectation of a winning culture. Turgeon said it’s rightfully so.
“They expect us to win,” Turgeon said. “That’s the way it should be.”