Coming off their first loss in over a month, Maryland basketball (22-5, 12-4 B1G) has an opportunity to begin a new win streak against Minnesota. The Golden Gophers, (13-13, 7-9 B1G) are coming off a dominant 83-57 win over Northwestern and are a much better team at home. Overall, Minnesota is 10-4 at home, while just 2-8 on the road.
Everything for the Gophers starts down low with center Daniel Oturu, who averages 19.7 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game in conference play. Oturu is one of the conference’s best on both ends of the floor and will impose another challenge down low for sophomore Jalen Smith. Last season in Minneapolis, “Stix” enjoyed one of the best games of his freshman season with 21 points and eight rebounds. However, this season Smith will have an added challenge, guarding Oturu on most possessions with Bruno Fernando now in the NBA.
Three weeks ago, against Iowa’s Luka Garza, one of the other premier post players in the conference, Jalen Smith held his own defensively. While Garza and Oturu are different players, it will be crucial for Smith to maintain the same discipline and versatility defensively that garnered success against Garza. Coming off one of his weaker performances of the season with eight points and seven rebounds, “Stix” has a great challenge, but also a great opportunity to bounce back.
While Oturu poses a great threat down low, Daniel Carr and Gabe Kalscheur present a potent duo on the perimeter. Carr, a transfer from Pitt, is averaging 15.4 points per game, displaying great quickness and an affinity to attack the basket. Kalscheur shoots 33% from behind the arc and is one of the best perimeter scorers in the conference. Similar to Sunday’s matchup against Ohio State, the Terps perimeter defense will be a point of emphasis.
Guard Anthony Cowan will look to bounce back on both ends of the floor in his 127th career start. The senior enters Wednesday’s matchup coming off one of his weaker scoring outputs of the season. Struggling with the Buckeyes hounding defense, Cowan finished 1-4 from the field and also fouled out for only the third time in his career.
“I’m just going to come out focused more than anything because the regular season is coming to an end,” Cowan said. “We just got to come out ready to work.”
A return to Minneapolis might be a welcome site for Cowan. In last season’s victory at Williams Arena, he finished with a then career-high 27 points, including going 10-10 at the line. When Cowan and “Stix” are playing at their best, Maryland is a much tougher team to deal with on both ends of the floor.
Stifling perimeter defense and resurgent performances from Cowan and “Stix” will be pivotal for the Terps to pick up their fifth conference road win of the season.
“We know this [game] is going to be just as
hard, Minnesota needs it and our guys have responded well,” head coach Mark