Terps fail to build on first half success, drop contest with #6 Spartans 74-68

After dropping a big road game against Indiana on Monday, the Terps got nearly an entire week of rest leading up to their rematch with #6 Michigan State. The Spartans had a much more turbulent week. In wake of the Larry Nassar trial, the University has been in hot water, specifically the athletic programs.

In addition to this, Michigan State’s basketball team faced a tough schedule this past week. They were able to defeat Illinois and Wisconsin despite all of the chaos around their program but the stress and pressure of playing three games in seven days certainly toke a toll on the Spartans when they entered College Park on Sunday.

Maryland has been desperately waiting for a rematch after losing by 30 points when they traveled to East Lansing a few weeks ago. The Terps didn’t waste any time getting their home crowd involved with a pair of three pointers by Dion Wiley and an alley oop dunk by Darryl Morsell.

This early 8-0 lead put the momentum in their favor right from the start. The Terps would not surrender that lead until the second half. No matter how close the Spartans got, Maryland had an answer. Fueled by the raucous crowd, Maryland’s offense was able to run a lot of fast breaks and enjoyed a lot of success in transition. Overall the shots were falling for Maryland while the Spartans struggled to shoot above 30% from the field.

The Spartans were clearly not playing their best basketball. They turned the ball over a lot and missed some layups while trying to keep up with the Terps. Maryland did a great job of shutting down Michigan State’s top scorers though. Miles Bridges and Nick Ward combined for just five points on 2-11 shooting in the first half.

The second half was a completely different story. Despite taking a 13 point lead at the break, the Terps couldn’t keep Michigan State from erasing that lead in the first five minutes of the second half. The Spartans made major adjustments during the break and didn’t have any problems changing the pace of play in their favor.

For the first time in the game, Maryland was forced to play a close game and that is when their depth issues became exposed. I give Anthony Cowan all the credit in the world for being the leader of this offense but he is playing too many minutes per game. The sophomore has delivered some great performances this season but I think the pressure of playing a lot of minutes is starting to catch up with him. In recent games, Cowan has struggled in crunch time and the second half in general. Sundays game was no different.

A balanced offensive attack helped give Maryland the lead in the first half but in the second they were forced to slow things down and Cowan was called upon to shoot more than his share.

The two teams battled throughout the entire second half with the refs calling every small foul along the way. Both teams entered the bonus quickly and the foul shooting became the main source of scoring in the final minutes. Maryland kept their opponent close enough for a late game rally but their rebounding would end up killing them.

Kevin Huerter hit a big three pointer with 3:30 left and Jarred Nickens followed with a layup to make it a one possession game. As a top ten team, the Spartans have faced a lot of situations like this and they showed the amount of composure you would expect while sealing a victory on Sunday.

Maryland played some good defense without fouling but they just couldn’t get their hands on the rebounds. It was a problem all day but with the game on the line, Michigan State was able to reset their shot clock and drain a lot of extra time in the final minutes of the game. The Spartans racked up 19 offensive boards on the afternoon and out-rebounded the Terps 46-29 overall.

Michigan State utilized this advantage and made the necessary foul shots to secure a 74-68 win. Maryland has now dropped five of their last seven and the NCAA tournament is looking almost out of reach. There is a lot of basketball left before we get to March but Maryland is running out of opportunities against top-tier competition.

Even if they manage to take down a ranked team, a deep run in the conference tournament might be necessary to punch a ticket for March. The Terps will have to regroup quickly as they travel to face #3 Purdue on Wednesday.

Image Credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

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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

Trimble’s game winner pushes Maryland past Michigan State, 63-60

Maryland closed out the regular season on Saturday with a 63-60 win over Michigan State. Melo Trimble’s late game three-pointer also secured the #3 seed for the Terps in next weeks Big Ten conference tournament.

Both teams played poorly in the first half but with an extremely fast pace. The 28-27 halftime score favored the Spartans, but also showed how many missed opportunities there were for both teams. Maryland shot an abysmal 3-13 from beyond the arc in the first half. Michigan State was much better from three, shooting 50%, but had a low overall shooting percentage of 33%.

Maryland’s leading scorers at halftime were Anthony Cowan and Melo Trimble with six points each. With the three point shooting not falling through, the Terps were able to stay in the game by shooting 6-8 at the free throw line. The Spartans did not shoot any free throws in the first half.

The second half started with some more bricked three’s for Maryland but the offensive rebounding by Dodd and Jackson kept the Terps’ possessions alive and the score close.

Just a few moments later, Anthony Cowan drove to the basket against some tough defense to take back the lead. On the next Maryland possession, Kevin Huerter scored his first points of the game with a big three pointer, bringing the crowd back into the game. Trimble followed with a three of his own and gave the Terps their biggest lead of the afternoon.

Michigan State responded and quickly erased Maryland’s eight point lead at the 10 minute mark. Throughout the entire game, both teams got hot and cold at the same time, causing the score to be tight all afternoon. Neither team was able to pull away for too long. One of these cold streaks came during the final minutes of the game when both teams were tied at 60. Each team had a handful of chances to take the lead but could not score. Layups, jumpers, three pointers, and free throws were all attempted but nothing fell through.

With six seconds to play, Maryland had one last chance to win. The ball was inbounded to Melo Trimble, who raced down the court and put up a desperation three pointer. The shot went through and the Xfinity Center exploded.

After looking at the replay, the refs put one second back on the clock, giving Michigan State a chance to send it to overtime. The Spartans inbound pass was perfect and allowed Miles Bridges to get a clean shot off but the ball hit the front of the rim and the Terps’ celebration resumed.

Trimble finished with 16 points and six rebounds. Since his freshman year there have been many rumors that Trimble would declare for the NBA draft. The rumors have not been as loud this season but the senior day festivities combined with the game-winning shot put everyone in a different mood. The student section chanted “one more year” as Melo left the court, hoping this would not be his final game in College Park.

This win gives Maryland the #3 seed in the Big Ten tournament next week. The Terps will get some much needed rest since they won’t be playing until next Friday. With the tournament being held just a few miles down the road from the University of Maryland, the team can take even more time to prepare instead of traveling.