Maryland men’s basketball continues dominance at XFINITY, edge No. 21 Indiana

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athleticsd

Maryland men’s basketball outdueled No. 21 Indiana in a 66-55 defensive struggle on Tuesday night.

The matchup concluded Maryland’s three-game homestead with a trifecta of conference victories. The Terps are now 15-7 overall and 6-5 in the Big Ten, with all conference wins coming on their home floor.

Despite the Terps’ poor shooting performance, seniors Donta Scott and Jahmir Young managed to get it done despite the statistical woes. Scott, Young and young big man Julian Reese all hit double-digit points to combine for 49 points and 22 rebounds. 

“I think Julian Reese is slowly turning into a big-time player,” Maryland Coach Kevin Willard said. “To battle the bigs he’s had to battle for the last five games… if not winning, breaking even just shows how hard Julian’s had it.”

Indiana, with the same record as the Terps, landed in College Park riding high on five straight victories, most recently trouncing Ohio State 86-70 three days prior. Trayce Jackson-Davis led the Hoosiers with six of their 17 assists against the Buckeyes. 

Jackson-Davis, a 6-foot-9 senior, joined the John R. Wooden Top 20 Watch List, which recognizes the most outstanding men’s and women’s players in the country. He leads his squad with 19.6 points per game to match 10.7 rebounds per game.

The Terps’ task at hand was to host a tough team that excels in areas Maryland hadn’t recently. Indiana has the highest field goal percentage in the Big Ten as the only member of the conference shooting 50% or better. 

This is due much in part to its 38.4% clip from three-point range, 0.1% off from leading the conference in that category as well. 

Maryland, on the other hand, averages fewer assists than anyone with 11 per game and shoots a Big Ten-second-worst 30.7% from long range.

Young scored the team’s first five points, and the times down the floor when he chose not to shoot resulted in crisp passes inside. 

On the other end, the Terps set a defensive tone early by bringing a double team to Jackson-Davis whenever he got the ball in the post. When the Indiana forward scored again, Reese made sure to get right back at him with a spin move and score.

Indiana Coach Mike Woodson’s defense appeared impenetrable early on, forcing the Terps to shell out for threes. They shot ten in as many minutes to open the game, a noticeable jump from their usual strategy as of recent, and only converted one. Scott finally snapped the cold spell in the thirteenth minute, and Young’s three on the next possession brought Maryland within one at 24-23.

“I just kind of reminded the guys, ‘if someone can make a shot, that’d be really helpful,’” Willard said. “I just kind of joked around, relaxed them a little bit. I thought we started off good, then we missed some shots, got tight, a bad pattern happened, and I thought they just needed to relax.”

The Terps didn’t record a single turnover in the first half, while forcing seven out of their opponent. This helped facilitate a 10-0 scoring run which they took to the final 90 seconds, enabling them to enter halftime with a respectable 37-29 lead, holding the Hoosiers to one of their last seven shots.

Young entered the half leading his team in scoring, contributing 13 points on efficient shooting splits. Hakim Hart led the team in assists with two, factoring in how the Terps were able to keep up with the Hoosiers in the assist category.

Aside from turnovers, fouls helped dig the Hoosiers’ hole in the first 20 minutes. Maryland shot 13-15 from the line, while Indiana just 5-6.

Indiana opened the fresh half rejuvenated, jumping off to a 6-0 run while drawing four Maryland fouls in the first four minutes to give themselves the same advantage the Terps once enjoyed. 

“Overrated” chants failed to vex Jackson-Davis, who collected his thirteenth rebound around that time.

Hard-nosed defense got even scrappier as the quarter slogged on, holding both teams to several scoring droughts ranging from two to three minutes. The Terps’ once tight handle loosened up, and they committed three turnovers by the midway point in the second half.

Maryland’s once-promising 12 point lead with eight minutes left dwindled with missed shots, as a 7-0 Hoosiers run placed the pressure on the Terps with five minutes left. Scott, who struggled most of the game offensively, poured in a 4-0 run of his own to give his team some breathing room. 

After Reese drove hard down low and made a tough layup, Scott took over. He scored four more in a row right after, including a dagger finish at the rim to place the bow on arguably his best performance in two months. 

Scott scored ten in the second half to bring his final total to 10, the highest he’s scored since the Basketball Hall of Fame Tournament on Nov. 19 and 20. Young hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to make him the only 20-point-scorer of the night.

The Terps managed to seal the deal 66-55 despite them turning in their third worst shooting game of the season at 34%. Thanks to their vaunted defense, they just about dragged the Hoosiers down with them, holding them to 37.5% from the field. 

The free throw disparity also proved valuable through both quarters, with the Terps taking 17 more foul shots than their opponent. Despite Jackson-Davis grabbing 20 rebounds, exactly half of his team’s total, Reese captained a Maryland team-rebounding approach to keep the difference close.

“We definitely felt disrespected as a team,” Reese said. “Felt like they just kind of overlooked us. Watching them warm up, they were all laughing, giggling…I took that kind of personally, and we went out there and punched them in the mouth.”

Maryland will head back on the road to face Minnesota this weekend and aims to continue building a resume for the NCAA Tournament.