Refound Life in XFINITY Center boosts confidence from Maryland men’s basketball

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Coming off of two Big Ten road games against Minnesota and Michigan State, the 16-8 Maryland Terrapins returned to Xfinity Center to host the 14-10 Penn State Nittany Lions. Maryland found itself in a home stand against the highest three-point shooting team in the Big Ten, a team that has made 283 three-pointers this season (Indiana follows in second with only 154). 

Maryland men’s basketball was delighted to see Xfinity Center sold out for the first time since March 8, 2020, against Michigan. With a packed home crowd to boost morale, Maryland pulled away with the win over Penn State, 74-68.

“The fans are basically our sixth man,” Hakim Hart said in his post-game presser. “When they get going, we get going. So we basically just feed off their energy.”

Hart finished the game with a season-high of 23 points to lead the team. He completed eight of his 10 ten field goals and finished with five rebounds and a pair of steals. “Just to be the leader of this team means a lot to me,” Hart said. “I’ve been here for four years, and I’ve always just wanted to do good things and win championships.”

Behind Hart were Jahmir Young (18 points), Julian Reese (11 points), and Donta Scott (9 points). 

Jahmir Young had an uncharacteristic start, racking up just five points in the last minute of the first half. However, Young found himself head-to-head against Penn State point guard Jalen Pickett, which brought out an incredible defensive effort against the Big Ten’s fifth-highest scorer, who was held to 15 points. Young quickly found his offensive groove in the second half, doubling his point total in just five minutes of play.

“I thought Jahmir got us back into the game and the second half, but he was expending a lot of energy on the defensive end,” head coach Kevin Willard said post-game. “I just wanted to give Hakim the ball, just to give Jahmir a break, and I thought he did a great job of just probing, being aggressive, and finding guys.”

Julian Reese and Donta Scott were vital to Maryland’s defensive effort. Reese finished the game with five rebounds (all of which were defensive), three blocks, and a steal. Scott, on the other hand, finished with a whopping ten rebounds, just two of which were on offense.

Coming off a 63-58 road loss to Michigan State, Maryland has only reinforced its pattern of finding success at home. With No. 3 Purdue coming to College Park on Thursday, Maryland will have home crowd advantage as it looks to avenge its 58-55 loss to the Boilermakers in January.

Looking ahead, Maryland has just three home matchups left against Purdue (12-2 Big Ten), Minnesota (1-11 Big Ten), and Northwestern (8-5 Big Ten). On the road they will face Nebraska (5-10 Big Ten), Ohio State (3-10 Big Ten), and Penn State (5-9 Big Ten). With arguably its two toughest opponents, Purdue and Northwestern, having to face the home crowd at Xfinity Center, Maryland is in a solid position heading into the Big Ten Tournament while currently holding an 8-6 record in the Big Ten.

“Michigan State is loud. Purdue is loud. Wisconsin is loud. Our building is loud, which is important. You need it in this league because winning on the road in this conference is unlike anything I’ve experienced,” Coach Willard said.