Wednesday night against No. 14 Wisconsin, Maryland stormed all the way back from an 18-point deficit, as it cut the Badgers’ lead to three with 11:45 remaining.
However, for a 3:26 stretch shortly after, the Terps went without a basket as Wisconsin extended its lead to 15, once again taking control of the game.
That sequence was emblematic of a recent trend in Maryland’s losses, where the Terps’ offense has gone quiet for prolonged stretches. During that span, Maryland turned the ball over three times as Wisconsin’s offense simultaneously hit its stride in the 61-55 loss.
“We stayed on 40 forever,” head coach Mark Turgeon said after the loss against Wisconsin. “It’s tough, it’s hard on all of us,” Turgeon added on the scoring droughts.
Although, that wasn’t the only period of the game where Maryland’s offensive futility was evident, unable to solve its shooting woes. In the opening 10 minutes against the Badgers, the Terps went 6:02 without a field goal.
During that stretch, Maryland was unable to convert on open perimeter opportunities as it started the game 0-9 from three. As Maryland’s offense failed to capitalize, the Terps’ defense did their best to keep the team in the game.
Against a Top 15 team like Wisconsin, keeping the Badgers’ offense at bay for an extended period proved to be incredibly challenging. That’s generally true on most nights in the Big Ten. The conference is one of the deepest in the country with six ranked teams in the most recent AP Top 25 Poll.
Unfortunately for Maryland, Wisconsin wasn’t the only recent contest where the Terps’ offense let them down in spurts. On Jan. 7 against then-No. 5 Iowa, Maryland exploded out of the gates with a prolific shooting start. The Terps scored 19 points in the opening eight minutes as they seemingly converted shot attempts with ease.
Yet, the lengthy scoring drought reared its ugly head once again, which allowed the Hawkeyes to regain the lead. For an 8:47 stretch, Maryland faltered without a basket as it missed 10 consecutive shots and committed five turnovers. Iowa didn’t look back after that as it took a commanding halftime lead in Maryland’s 89-67 loss.
A 63-55 loss on Jan. 4 was also defined by a critical scoring drought, this time down the stretch. Against the Hoosiers, Maryland went over six minutes without a field goal in the final nine minutes. That allowed Indiana to stretch a two-point lead into a 10-point lead.
Over that span, the Terps couldn’t capitalize on seven straight shot attempts and coughed up the ball on three possessions.
All three examples point to Maryland’s continued development towards putting together a consistent 40-minute effort on both ends of the floor.
In Maryland’s most recent 63-49 win over then-No. 17 Minnesota on Saturday, the Terps delivered exactly that. For 40 minutes, Maryland played stifling defense and orchestrated efficient offense.
However, after losing against Wisconsin, the Terps are once again looking to regain that necessary consistency.
Missed shots are undeniably a common denominator in these stretches, but they come with the ebbs and flows of a game. However, the biggest issue in addition to missed shots has been turnovers. During these scoring droughts, the Terps are committing turnovers over at a higher rate.
“We had nine turnovers, three or four of them were just at the worst time for us,” Turgeon said after losing against Wisconsin.
Like every team in the country at this point in the season, Maryland is looking to build on the positive aspects of its game, while minimizing the negative stretches.
For the Terps, a key step in building that consistency and offensive fluidity lies with improved shot-making and eliminating critical turnovers. Both will be pivotal for the Terps to minimize the prolonged scoring droughts that have characterized their most recent losses.