Maryland captures elusive road win by taking down Northwestern 71-64

It was not pretty and the second half certainly wasn’t clean, but in the end the Maryland Terrapins pulled out their second road win of the season by taking down Northwestern 71-64.

With these two teams meeting just nine days ago, there was some familiarity when they stepped on the court Monday night. The Wildcats were coming off of a devastating loss to Michigan State in which they lead the Spartans by 27 but still managed to lose 65-60. Maryland, on the other hand, has enjoyed a decent amount of success in recent games while winning three of their last five.

The Terrapins shot over 50% from the field in Monday’s win over Northwestern but got a great deal of offensive production from some players who usually remain quiet. Michael Cekovsky has not started much since returning from injury but still provides the team with a nice boost off of the bench.

It’s not often that Maryland has an advantage under the basket but Cekovsky didn’t waste anytime using that to his benefit when he came off the bench in the first half. The 7-foot-6-inch senior dominated the rim with three dunks and four rebounds in the first half.

Dion Wiley also came through with one of his more flashy performances of the year. Mark Turgeon has given Wiley an opportunity to start a lot of games over the past few weeks but he has stuck to his role as a facilitator for the most part. On Monday, the junior from Oxon Hill dropped 13 while adding three rebounds and a pair of steals.

Kevin Huerter would finish with 18 points and four assists to lead the Maryland offense. He was also responsible for three of the Terrapins five three pointers in the game. It was interesting to see Maryland shy away from the deep shots especially in the first half when the Wildcats were flourishing from beyond the arc. Chris Collins’ team shot 15 three pointers in the first half and managed to sink eight of them to take a 37-30 lead¬†at the break.

However, that previously mentioned height difference between each teams big men helped the Terps keep pace with Northwestern early and eventually pull away. I am also a little surprised with just how fast the Terps played at points, especially in the second half. With the regular season coming to a close, I would have guessed that most of the team would be drained from playing extended minutes all year. Instead, Maryland did a lot of their scoring in transition and appeared to fluster the Wildcats down the stretch.

Maryland’s 41 point second half was fun to watch mainly because of their consistency. There were no scoring droughts as the Terps spent the full 20 minuets battling to either get even or hold on to a slim lead. Just like their game against Rutgers on Saturday, Maryland did a good job of closing the game out with a lead as well. Northwestern started intentionally fouling a little earlier than expected and the Terrapins took advantage by going 6-6 from the line to put the game on ice.

This second road win has been a long time coming for the Terps. There have been a lot of close calls since they took down Illinois in overtime earlier this season but they could never quiet get it done. I was happy to see Maryland thrive away from home but I can’t help but think about Northwestern’s arena situation.

The Wildcats have been relocated to the Allstate Arena this season while their normal home gets renovated. This has resulted in a lack of home court advantage for Northwestern. Just look at this picture of their student section¬†from tonight’s game. None the less, the Terps found a win outside of the Xfinity Center and that all that matters.

Maryland will honor their senior players this Saturday as Michigan makes a trip to College Park. Big wins have eluded the Terps all season but they will get one more crack at it as the Wolverines are currently sitting at No. 17 in the AP rankings.

Image credit: Jim Young / AP

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Slow start comes back to bite Terps in 75-67 loss to #3 Purdue

Maryland limped into their Wednesday night matchup against Purdue as a desperate team. The last few weeks have seen many disappointing performances and tough losses but things got even worse for the Terps when they lost Michael Cekovsky to an ankle injury in Tuesdays practice. The severity of the injury is unknown but Cekovsky did not make the trip to Mackey Arena on Wednesday, leaving the Terps very undermanned against the #3 team in the nation.

If you’re like me, you were anticipating a blowout loss after hearing this unfortunate news. Maryland certainly didn’t do themselves any favors early on and failed to score a basket for the first four minutes of the game. This cold start looked like the beginning of the end but the Terps hung around throughout the first half thanks to a slightly underwhelming offensive performance by Purdue.

The Boilermakers finished the half shooting just 35% from the field. In addition to this, they failed to flex their muscle under the basket and allowed Maryland to match them in rebounds. However, a lopsided 11-1 turnover margin would be the downfall for the Terps. Purdue wasn’t running their best offense but this advantage was enough to give them a 35-24 lead at the half.

I think the best way to describe this Maryland team and their season is¬†a tale of two halves. Every major game usually sees Mark Turgeon’s¬†team start strong but fall apart late thanks to a lack of depth. Wednesday nights game was definitely a tale of two halves but this time Maryland was able to turn it on and play a great second half.

Maryland nearly doubled their first half point total while testing the Boilermakers down the stretch. Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell helped lead a potential comeback with great second half performances but the size disadvantage and depth issues would catch up with the Terps in the end.

Fernando struggled to assert himself against Purdue’s big men early in the game but started the second half with a pair of impressive possessions. The electric freshman would end up finishing with 20 points despite battling foul trouble. Morsell contributed 13 points of his own and played a very tough game on the boards. The Freshman picked up seven rebounds int he first half and finished the game with nine for a new career high.

Kevin¬†Huerter had a great second half performance as well and single-handedly put the Terps back in the game. Around the nine minute mark Huerter¬†nailed three straight three pointers to cut Purdue’s lead to just one possession. It was their slimmest lead since the very beginning of the game when they went up 4-0. The environment had completely changed after this quick nine point run but Purdue had an answer.

Good teams do not crumble under pressure and even though the Boilermakers had just surrendered their lead, Matt Painter was able to setttle his team down with a timeout. They would come out of this short break and put together a mini 7-0 run to take back a ten point lead.

Purdue had trouble stopping Huerter and the Terps from beyond the arc but they were able to utilize the drastic size difference to easily regain their lead and eventually close out the game. No matter how many big shots the Terps made, Purdue was just too tough under the rim. As usual Isaac Haas was a forced to be reckoned with. The senior racked up 20 points with ease to lead the Boilermakers to their 18th straight win.

Sophomore guard Carsen Edwards had 17 points while Dakota Mathias chipped in 11 and made his 200th career three pointer in the first half. The Boilermakers now have the longest active win streak in the nation and continue to build their best conference start in school history. Early in the year, Michigan State looked like a clear favorite to walk away with the Big Ten but Purdue has quickly emerged as the new front-runner.

Maryland hasn’t had the easiest schedule but anytime you lose six out of eight, there is a reason to be concerned. The Terps are still winless against ranked opponents and the road ahead will likely only offer one more chance to change that. The Cekovsky injury will be a huge factor moving forward as well. I would assume losing him for any amount of games would surely put the nail in Maryland’s season.

Image Credit: Michael Conroy / AP

Terps take late lead but can’t hold on in 68-67 loss to #23 Michigan

Maryland walked into Ann Arbor on Monday night and quickly took control of their game against #23 Michigan but still ended up losing in disappointing fashion. The Wolverines passed the Terps at the last second with a pair of free throws by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and escaped with a 68-67 win.

Anthony Cowan put up 24 points and left it all on the court for the Terps, but in the end it wasn’t enough to take down Michigan. The newly-ranked Wolverines leaned on their veteran players after getting off to a slow start and held off the Terps late in the game.

Michigan shot just 31% from the field in the first half, and found themselves down by ten at the half. Maryland did not do anything spectacular during this stretch but they certainly controlled the pace of the game by running a balanced offense and grabbing rebounds. Not only was Michigan shooting poorly, but they showed almost no hustle when it came to getting offensive rebounds. Maryland held a 22-12 advantage in that category at the half.

Unlike their past losses to Michigan State and Ohio State, the Terps’ lack of depth was not exposed in the first half. Everything was moving slow and the home crowd was clearly impacted by it. Once the Wolverines sped the game up, everything changed.

Michigan came out of the half swinging and quickly tied the game up with a 10-0 run. A few minutes later, the Wolverines put on a three-point shooting contest and started to run away from Maryland. Michigan nailed seven baskets from beyond the arc over a five-minute span. You have to give credit where it is due and Michigan deserves it, but Maryland left their shooters wide open on almost all of these attempts.

As the clock ticked away and the game approached crunch time, the defect felt twice as large but Maryland remained within striking distance. Kevin Huerter finally came to life after a quiet start and joined Cowan to put Maryland just one possession behind Michigan. The two sophomores combined for a dozen points in the final two minutes but the biggest shot came from Huerter with just seconds left.

With 16 seconds remaining and no timeouts, Maryland needed a basket to tie. The ball was passed around quickly but Huerter ended up drilling a deep three-pointer to give the Terps a 67-66 lead. After the hectic sequence the Wolverines were left with just three seconds to inbound and score.

Michigan faced no resistance from Maryland on the inbound as they easily got the ball across mid court on the pass. Senior guard Abdur-Rahkman raced toward the basket and got tripped up by Bruno Fernando, drawing a foul. In a fairy tale finish, Abdur-Rahkman sunk both free throws to give himself seven on the night and 1,000 for his career.

This is not the Terps’ first heartbreaking defeat of the year but it will sting the most. After dropping big games against Syracuse, Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State, Maryland was given yet another opportunity and they squandered it.

There is no single moment to blame, though. Obviously, the Terps should have defended the inbound better and not given one of the best free throw shooters in the game a chance to win at the line. But what about the Terps’ own foul shooting? Despite struggling to score a basket at times in the second half, Maryland drew fouls. However, they went just 9-for-14 at the line. Just a few more of those and you get a win.

My biggest gripe has to be the pace of play. The key to Maryland’s first half success was so clear but they failed to stick with it when Michigan started to make a comeback. When you lose by one point, you look back at all the little things that happened down the stretch. Trying to run a fast offense while throwing up bricks should be looming over the Terps as they leave Ann Arbor because they have no one to blame but themselves for this loss.

Maryland is now 1-4 on the road but they will return home on Thursday to host Minnesota. The Golden Gophers hold a similar record to the Terps and are scrapping just as hard to make a name for themselves in the Big Ten.

Image credit: Tony Ding / Associated Press

Terps fall to Ohio State 91-69 after cold shooting performance

On Thursday night, the Maryland Terrapins lost to Ohio State 91-69, marking their second blowout loss in the last three games. Conference play has not been kind to the Terps so far and things are not looking any brighter on the horizon.

Ohio State was not ranked coming into this matchup but they should be by next Monday. After knocking off #1 Michigan State on Sunday, the Buckeyes became one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten and they moved to 5-0 in conference play after stomping the Terps on Thursday.

Keita Bates-Diop has been one of the biggest standouts in the Big Ten this year, averaging 20 points per game. He led the way for the Buckeyes once again on Thursday by recording 26 points and eight rebounds. Overall the Buckeyes had an amazing shooting night to help lift themselves over the visiting Terps.

Just for comparison, Ohio State shot 52% from the field in their win over Michigan State last week and they shoo 56% against Maryland. The Buckeyes were even better from the three-point line, picking up 17 of their 32 baskets from beyond the arc. Three other players, in addition to Bates-Diop, finished with double-digit point totals.

Maryland was abysmal from the field all night. The Terps shot just 36% and got about 25% of their points from the free-throw line. Unlike past losses, the turnover margin was not to blame. Maryland coughed up the ball just seven times but still managed to lose in lopsided fashion.

Like in their loss to the Spartans last week, Maryland found themselves on the wrong side of a scoring run at the end of the first half.  The teams were tied at 22 with eight minutes to play but the Buckeyes quickly took complete control with a 22-2 scoring run. Mark Turgeon did not call a timeout during this entire span even though the Terps were clearly not running their proper game plan. The Buckeyes defense was stout but when your team is forcing shots early in the clock and not hustling back on fast breaks, you need to call a timeout and reset.

The only player who didn’t have a terrible night for the Terps was Michael Cekovsky. The senior started his night by going 5-for-5 with ten points and finished with 18. Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter usually lead the way on offense but the two combined to shoot 7-for-23. Rounding out the starting lineup were freshmen Darryl Morsell and Bruno Fernando. The two have been electric in the past but were non-existent in Thursday’s loss, combining for six points on 1-for-9 shooting.

Its’ difficult to not be frustrated with this Maryland team. When they started the season there was a lot of promise and opportunity but that has faded pretty quickly. Certainly the injuries have had a big impact on their play but the opportunities to pick up quality wins continue to come and go.

The Terps have played a handful of games against quality opponents but their best wins are still against Butler and Penn State. Meanwhile, there are already at least three or four losses that will come back to haunt the Terps when the season is over.

Mark Turgeon and the Terps will take the weekend off before traveling to face Michigan on Monday. This presents yet another opportunity for Maryland to pick up a big win. Hopefully they can regroup and put themselves in a position to win down the stretch instead of falling behind early.

Image credit: Adam Cairns / TNS

Terps fail to keep pace with #1 ranked Spartans in 91-61 loss

After picking up a solid win over Penn State on Tuesday, Maryland was faced with their biggest matchup of the season. The only problem is they had just two days to prepare. The Terps traveled to East Lansing on Thursday and got blown out by the #1 ranked Michigan State Spartans 91-61.

It’s almost crazy to think how fast the game fell apart for Maryland. With six minutes to play in the first half, the two Big Ten teams were tied at 29 points. The Terps came out of the gate fast and matched the Spartans intensity by hitting eight of their first ten shots. Kevin Huerter was the key to this hot start and ended up scoring 14 points in the first half.

Despite getting off to an amazing start, Maryland could not keep Michigan State down. The Spartans enjoyed an insane three-point shooting percentage in the first half, going 10-16 and scoring 30 or their first 44 points from beyond the arc.

Once the Spartans started to create some separation it was over for this inexperienced Maryland team. Michigan State finished the half with a 15-3 run to take a 44-29 lead the break.

The Terps came into this game as an extreme underdog for many reasons. One of those being the fact that Michigan State has a lot of depth and the Terps don’t after their recent injuries. This became evident as the Spartans started to pull away. Mark Turgeon’s team looked gassed and were just trying to make it to the half.

The problem is, Maryland came out of the break looking just as uninspired. Michigan State is the number one team in the country for a reason, but the Terps didn’t show much of an effort to change their game plan. Both¬†Anthony Cowan and Huerter looked very confident at times but they couldn’t get the ball inside to mix up the offensive attack. This forced the perimeter players to throw up way too many contested three pointers while the game slipped away.

To harp on the depth issues, Both Bruno Fernando and Michael Cekovsky had four fouls a piece before the mid-way point in the second half. This made them absolutely non-existent for the remainder of the game and they finished with seven and two points respectively. With no one to substitute, Maryland just couldn’t keep pace with a very fast and fluid Spartan team.

Just to emphasize how dominate Michigan State was, four players finished the night with double-digit scoring. Miles Bridges has been a monster for the Spartans this season and he put on a show Thursday night with 15 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds.

Michigan State also came very close to scoring 100 points in their fifth straight game. However, the previous four games were against non-conference pushovers like Houston Baptist and Long Beach State. I will let you decide what that says about Maryland. The Spartans have scored less than 80 points in just four games this season.

You can’t help but feel disappointing in this Maryland team. I know that they had a slim chance to defeat the best team in the country on two days rest but after their hot start, the second half was just torture to watch. The Terps will have a chance to bounce back on Sunday as they rerun home to host Iowa. The Hawkeyes are really struggling this season with a 9-8 record (0-4 in Big Ten) that puts them at the bottom of the conference.

Image Credit: Rey Del Rio / Getty Images

Maryland uses late push to take down Penn State 75-69

COLLEGE PARK, MD — 2018 is here and the Maryland Terps are ready to really dig into their conference schedule. After dropping two big games against Syracuse and Purdue, Maryland was able to finish 2017 with six wins before Big Ten play took over for good.

While the talent has certainly been there, we knew that this Maryland team was going to be a work in progress throughout the season due to their youth. The Terps took a big hit this past week though when Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender were ruled out for the remainder of the season. Jackson was being counted on as one of the leaders of this team and Bender will be greatly missed from a depth standpoint.

Replacing both of these players is not going to be easy and their absence will hurt the teams chances of competing against the bigger names in the Big Ten. You just hope that the team will mature rapidly enough to overcome this.

The first half of Tuesdays contest was a little unconventional for Maryland. Kevin Huerter picked up two fouls very early in the game and was forced to sit on the bench as a result. Huerter went scoreless but there was enough scoring from Anthony Cowan and Bruno Fernando to give Maryland a slim lead for most of the first half.

Neither team was able to get a three pointer to fall until a little over two minutes remained in the half. Penn States’s Tony Carr broke this with a pair of three pointers which helped spark an 11-3 run for the Nittany Lions. Penn State went into the half with a 34-30 lead.

Penn State and Maryland continued to play a very similar style of basketball in the second half. Neither team had a clear advantage in rebounds, turnovers, or shooting percentage. The only area of the game that ended up being disproportionate was the free throws. Maryland didn’t waste much time getting into the bonus in both halves but ended up making just 23/34 at the line. Penn State only shot four free throws in the entire game.

The second half scoring continued to come from those who had a hot hand. Cowan and Fernando would finish as the top scorers for the Terps but Kevin Huerter was able to finally come alive down the stretch. The Sophomore didn’t score his first points until about the ll minute mark when he knocked down a pair of free throws.

Overall the second half was what you would expect from Big Ten matchup. Two teams trading points back and forth until the final minutes when someone manages to pull away just in time. Here is how that happened for Maryland.

Darryl Morsell had a rough night but he sparked the Terps final push by nailing a three pointer with 4:30 to play. The big shot tied the game up but it wasn’t until the next possession when Michael Cekovsky got the home crowd really fired up. The big man was able to wrestle the ball away from a defender and throw it down for a huge dunk, giving Maryland their first lead since the first minute of the second half.

As the clock continued to tick away, the Terps played their best defense of the night and really put the pressure on the visitors. Kevin Huerter’s stellar finish included 13 points and four rebounds and played a huge role in the Terps win. Huerter was also lights out at the free throw line to help Maryland put the game away in the final minuets.

The 75-69 win marks Maryland’s second in conference play and gives them some nice momentum going into what could be their biggest game of the season. Mark Turgeon will have to get his young team ready by Thursday as the Terps prepare to take on the #1 ranked Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing.

Image Credit: Toni L. Sandys / The Washington Post

Maryland’s Justin Jackson to miss remainder of 2017-18 season with torn labrum

COLLEGE PARK, MD —¬†After being sidelined for the past three games, it was revealed on Thursday afternoon that forward¬†Justin Jackson has a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The injury will sideline Jackson for the rest of the 2017-18 season.

Head coach Mark Turgeon made the announcement during practice on Thursday and said that the team has been waiting to see the severity of the sophomore’s injury. “After evaluating Justin’s shoulder over the past few weeks – which included extensive rehabilitation and rest , we feel the best course of action is for Justin to move forward with surgery.”

Jackson played in 11 games this season, averaging 9.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He enjoyed a great deal of success in his freshman season and even garnered some attention when the NBA draft rolled around. The Toronto native decided to return to Maryland for his sophomore year and was expected to be one of the leaders of the young team as he continued to grow as a player.

This injury is devastating to say the least. Not only for Jackson, but for the team as a whole. Conference play is about to start as the new year approaches, but the Terps will have to rely on their other sophomores, Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan, to carry the weight. In addition to this, the freshman will have to make some big improvements if Maryland is going to secure a trip to the NCAA tournament.

“Justin has an extremely bright future,” said Turgeon. “And I am confident he will continue to be an outstanding and impactful basketball player.”

Image Credit: Patrick Semansky / Associated Press