There is almost no room for mistakes when facing the best teams in the nation. Maryland made plenty in Ann Arbor and paid the price with its seventh loss of the season.
Maryland (8-7, 2-6 B1G) fell 87-63 to the No. 7 Wolverines (12-1, 7-1 B1G) and were destroyed by a Michigan team that was toying with its unranked opponent all night.
“We weren’t ourselves tonight and they were terrific and that’s not a good recipe for success,” head coach Mark Turgeon said.
Here are my three takeaways from Maryland’s second loss to Michigan.
Good low post defense, no perimeter defense.
Maryland came out and did what was necessary to silence Hunter Dickinson on the offensive side of the ball. Double teams, ball denials and a strong showing from Galin Smith were enough to keep Michigan’s freshman at bay. But it still wasn’t enough to account for the Wolverines tactical ball movement and efficient three-point shooting. At times, Maryland’s lethargic defensive rotations did nothing but help Michigan’s perimeter offense, regardless, the Wolverines offense was good enough to dispatch Maryland early.
“We did some stuff that I hadn’t seen before,” Turgeon said. “And our rotations and our communications weren’t great.”
Michigan opened up the contest shooting 5-5 from three and went on to drain three more as the half ended. Its significant lead was enough to warrant a much more conservative offensive approach.
Michigan still scored at a high mark, but only managed to convert four triples in the final half. The Wolverines finished the game with 12 threes on a solid 50% clip. Perimeter defense has been an issue for the Terps all season, but because of the nature of the Big Ten, their front court concerns have taken a precedent. It’s clear the Terps have a lot more problems than just a small lineup.
Poor free throw shooting.
As some might say, basketball is a make or miss game. So when Maryland misses almost half of their free throws, it can be hard to imagine that same Maryland team edging out a win against one of the best teams in the country.
In the first half, the Terps missed on five free throw attempts, that could’ve turned a 17-point first half deficit to a much more manageable 12-point Michigan lead going into the final 20 minutes. The Terps went on to draw more fouls in the closing minutes but went on to miss eight more free throws. Maryland had the opportunity for 30 points at the charity stripe and only connected on 17 tries.
“If we just make a couple [baskets] and make our free throws, we’re still in the game at halftime for as bad as it went,” Turgeon said.
Maryland’s winning chances were squashed by a characteristic slow start.
After nearly 10 minutes of first half play, Maryland had only eight points to show for it. And while they did turn their offensive fortunes around for the rest of the opening period, the damage had been done and the Terps early double-digit deficit remained at the end of the first half and at the final buzzer.
The aforementioned 5-5 three point shooting display in the first six minutes of the game coupled with four early turnovers, three of which committed by Aaron Wiggins, was enough to seal the deal in Ann Arbor. Starting slow is practically a mainstay of Maryland basketball but it especially hurts this season with the team’s inconsistent play.
“Our guys just didn’t compete against their pressure,” Turgeon said. “We’ve been competing but the first half we didn’t compete the way we need to.”