Connecticut is two years removed from winning the NCAA title, and No. 6 Maryland arrived for the Jimmy V Classic last night at Madison Square Garden as one of the favorites to contend for this year’s crown. For most of the night, the Terrapins looked dominant, but they had to survive a Huskies run that cut the lead to three points with 2:54 left before holding on for a 76-66 victory.
UConn’s Rodney Purvis had 10 of his 11 points in the 18-5 surge as the Huskies pulled within 67-64 on a left-wing three-pointer by Daniel Hamilton, who led them with 25 points.
But moments after that basket, Maryland star Melo Trimble, who scored 25 points, was fouled and Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie drew a technical.
That put Trimble at the line for two technicals and a one-and-one, and he converted three foul shots for a 70-64 advantage. The Terps finished the game on a 9-2 run.
Maryland (8-1) jumped on UConn (5-3) early, racing out to a 27-11 lead and building an advantage of 20 points before the end of the half. Seton Hall transfer Sterling Gibbs, had five of his 12 points in a 9-2 second-half surge that cut Maryland’s lead to 48-39.
Trimble had six points in an 11-4 burst that bumped the Terps’ lead back up to 59-43, seemingly restoring control before the Huskies’ thrilling comeback.
Maryland also got 18 points and nine rebounds from 6-11 freshman center Diamond Stone, who is projected as an NBA lottery pick. The Huskies were outrebounded, 45-22.
In the earlier game, No. 10 Virginia (8-1) overcame a 12-point first-half deficit to score a 70-54 blowout over No. 14 West Virginia (7-1). Over the final 22:23 of the game, the Cavaliers outscored the Mountaineers, 47-19, and held them to 30 percent shooting in the second half while converting 73.7 percent from the field (14 of 19).
The athletic Mountaineers used full-court pressure to build a 35-23 lead late in the first half.
Anthony Gill led the Cavaliers with 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Malcolm Brogdon added 14 points, but the second-half catalyst was junior guard London Perrantes, who was playing nine days after undergoing an appendectomy.
Perrantes didn’t take a shot in the first half but scored 13 second-half points, shooting 5-for-6, including all three three-pointers he attempted.
Perrantes had only two practices after getting out of the hospital, and one was non-contact.
“It was tough,” Perrantes said. “The days I wasn’t practicing I could barely walk. I didn’t have my feet under me as I should. I guess that’s what the first half was for.”
Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of Perrantes: “It’s impressive. He looked winded and rusty, but he responded. That’s the beautiful thing. It’s a matter of toughness and great medical care.“