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Terps visit Illinois for Big Ten battle for 1st place

Posted at 5:12 PM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 18:41:57-05

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — It’s a Big Ten battle for first place.

“We know it’s going to be a wild Friday night in Champaign,” said Terps head men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon. “It’s going to be an incredible building.”

No. 9 Maryland visits No. 20 Illinois. Both teams are tied atop the conference standings with 8-3 records.

“We always have good games with them. Expect another great game with them,” said Turgeon.

“It’s really big. It means a lot, especially towards conference standings and stuff,” said guard Aaron Wiggins.

The Terps are looking to sweep the Illini after beating them 59-58 back in December in the Big Ten opener. Maryland brings a five-game win streak into the match-up.

“Really the difference is - it’s real simple - we are turning the ball over less and we’re making like two more shots a game,” said Turgeon.

Nobody is playing better in the Big Ten right now than Terps big man, Baltimore’s own Jalen Smith.

Over his last five games ‘Stix’ is averaging 20.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. Thursday he was named as one of ten national candidates for the 2020 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award.

“My confidence is at an all-time high. Coach has been helping me with that. My therapist has been helping me with that and just making sure that I keep the right mind going into every game,” he said. “I know what I’m capable of doing and my team knows what I’m capable of doing. I’m just going out there to play every night.”

Maryland tips off in Champaign against Illinois Friday at 8:00 p.m.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook