Coming off a much-needed victory over Minnesota, Maryland (11-10, 5-9 B1G) will look to continue building on its momentum with consecutive games on Tuesday and Wednesday against Nebraska (5-12, 1-8 B1G), the lowest-ranked team in the conference.
Despite the Cornhuskers’ porous record, they’re coming off a 62-61 win over Penn State in Happy Valley and a tough overtime loss against No. 5 Illinois the game before. However, the Terps are coming off their best collective performance in several weeks excelling on both ends of the floor against the Golden Gophers on Sunday night.
“You hope that it gives them confidence moving forward,” head coach Mark Turgeon said after the Minnesota win. “We’ve got to lock in defensively and keep sharing the ball.”
Maryland’s 72 points were its most since defeating Wingate on Jan. 15, as four different players finished in double figures and the ball was constantly rotating from side-to-side. The most encouraging sign offensively was Galin Smith’s effectiveness as a low post presence, with 10 points on 4-4 shooting, four assists and five rebounds.
Smith also played stifling defense on Minnesota’s Liam Robbins with pivotal contributions on the defensive end. A formidable presence down low completely changes the complexion of Maryland’s offense as it allows them to utilize an inside-out offensive attack.
That dynamic has been virtually nonexistent in the Terps’ offense this season, whereas in prior season’s it was a staple of their offensive attack. Sunday night against Minnesota was a perfect example, as Smith kicked out several post touches to shooters when a double team came.
Aaron Wiggins was the recipient of one of those Smith passes, continuing a strong stretch of play outside of his struggles at Penn State. Wiggins displayed his offensive repertoire with several jumpers and crafty finishes attacking the basket with assertiveness and confidence. Wiggins also continues to flash his underappreciated vision as a passer finding his teammates for open looks, particularly in transition.
Darryl Morsell and Eric Ayala also found success. Ayala knocked down four triples, while Morsell used his physicality and aggressiveness to attack the basket. Ayala’s success from behind the arc was indicative of the Terps’ overall shooting success, a trend which they’ll look to replicate against the Cornhuskers.
Morsell was masterful defensively against Minnesota as usual and a similar effort will be needed against guard Teddy Allen— the Cornhuskers’ leading scorer. He averages 16.6 points per game and is the main initiator of Nebraska’s offensive attack.
Expect Morsell to be the primary defender on Allen, as he’s usually tasked with slowing down the opponents’ number one option. Limiting Allen’s success will be pivotal as the Cornhuskers aren’t a deep offensive team, lacking multiple consistent scorers.
Maryland needs to continue taking each game one at a time because a loss on either Tuesday or Wednesday to Nebraska would be a serious detriment to their NCAA Tournament aspirations.
Tip-off for both games is scheduled for 7:00 on the Big Ten Network.
“The guys they see the light at the end of the tunnel, they know it’s coming to an end soon, so we gotta make haste quickly,” Turgeon said.