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Maryland 59, Illinois 58

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - No. 3 Maryland couldn’t help but like the way its Big Ten opener against Illinois ended.

How the Terrapins got there - not so great.

Anthony Cowan Jr. hit a tying 3-pointer in the final 20 seconds and a go-ahead free throw with 2.1 seconds left as Maryland rallied from a 15-point deficit for a 59-58 victory.

“We have to be better,” Cowan said. “We obviously didn’t play our best game. We’re here to win a championship. This is a good win. Not to take anything away from Illinois, they played a great game."

Cowan had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Jalen Smith (14 points, 13 rebounds) recorded his sixth double-double of the season for Maryland (10-0, 1-0 Big Ten), which is off to its best start since it won 10 in a row to open the 1998-99 season.

Trent Frazier scored 13 points for Illinois (6-3, 0-1), which nearly claimed its first road victory over a top-five team since 1989. The Fighting Illini have lost 15 consecutive road games against ranked teams and six straight conference openers.

“That one was one hard,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “I’m not going to lie.”

Illinois led 39-25 at halftime and briefly pushed its lead to 15 in the second half, but Maryland gradually narrowed the deficit.

Donta Scott's basket with 1:45 remaining got Maryland within 57-55, and Frazier split two free throws 2 seconds later. It remained a three-point game until Cowan hit a deep 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining.

“Right when he shot it, it looked perfect,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “I knew it was in, and that’s just kind of what he does.”

Illinois played for the final possession, but guard Andres Feliz turned it over and fouled Cowan in the ensuing scrum. Cowan made the first free throw and missed the second, and the Illini failed to get a shot off in the remaining time.

The 14-point halftime hole was the largest Maryland has erased since coming back from a 15-point deficit at the break in an 80-78 defeat of Bucknell on Nov. 18, 2017.

“The basketball gods were obviously on our side,” Turgeon said. “It was kind of a miracle win. We weren’t very good. I wasn’t very good. And we weren’t ready to play, and they were.”

Associated Press

December 7, 2019