Led by strong defense, Maryland basketball looks to continue its winning ways against Northwestern

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Defense has been Maryland men’s basketball’s (14-4, 4-3 B1G) calling card all season-long, with its length and athleticism posing issues for opposing teams. The Terps proved as such with a commanding defensive performance against Purdue, holding the Boilermakers to 50 points and 36% from the field. Similar tight defense will be needed against Northwestern (6-11, 1-6 B1G) on Tuesday, for the Terps to pick up their first true road win of the season.

Northwestern is entering Tuesday’s matchup struggling, losing seven of their last eight games. For the Wildcats, everything starts with forward Miller Kopp who is the team’s leading scorer. Kopp is a lethal shooter from behind the arc, canning 40% of his three-point attempts. That mark is the third highest in the conference, making him a clear threat for the Terps. 

Maryland’s defensive communication and rotations will need to be strong against the Wildcats, especially to keep track of Kopp. Guards Aaron Wiggins and Darryl Morsell will be tasked with contesting Kopp’s perimeter jumpers and moving him off his spot. 

While Kopp is the Wildcats main threat on the perimeter, freshman forward Robbie Beran has emerged as a consistent option down low. Beran has started the last five games for the Wildcats averaging 10.6 points and six rebounds since seeing his role expand. Center Jalen Smith, the Terps low-post defensive anchor, will be tasked with preventing Beran from finding a rhythm. He has been outstanding defensively all season-long, averaging 2.2 blocks per game. Still, in a conference stacked with big men, Smith will have another tough challenge.

While leading on defense, Jalen Smith has also been extremely efficient offensively of late. Running high screen and rolls efficiently with guard Anthony Cowan Jr., Jalen Smith has displayed his outside shooting prowess. Since conference play began, he’s leading the Big Ten by shooting 58% from behind the arc. 

With Jalen Smith emerging as an outside shooting threat and freshman Donta Scott finding his groove offensively, the Terps have found a formidable front court duo. Scott is coming off a career-high 13-point performance against the Boilermakers, also displaying his outside shooting touch. Both players finding their range makes the Terps’ offense more versatile and much more difficult to slow down for the Wildcats.

Strong perimeter shooting and stifling low-post defense will be pivotal for the Terps to pick up their first conference road win of the season. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 7 p.m. and will air on FS1.

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