Whether it was sloppy turnovers or a failure to create good looks, the Maryland men’s basketball offense held its own all night.
Everything boiled over when the game time was about 12 and a half minutes. Trailing 38-30, Jahmir Young missed a marker from outside the baseline on a pass and flipped it to Rutgers senior guard Paul Mulcahy. Mulcahy, who was alone in transition when making an assist, drove all the way to the cup before getting on the wrong end of a vicious foul by Maryland sophomore forward Julian Reese.
– The turnover was great, to be honest. The jubilation wasn’t huge,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said. “I mean, I love that fact [Reese] drove it down and got up and played aggressively.”
The foul was upgraded to a flagrant, Mulcahy sank both free throws and Rutgers eventually walked away with four points and one possession. These four points were 12-0 The Rutgers run, and more importantly, the Terps’ four-plus-minute scoring drought.
The Terps never found their footing or identity in Piscataway, New Jersey, falling to Rutgers, 64-50. Life doesn’t get any easier for Maryland, which now stands at 10-5 and 1-3 in Big Ten play after another non-contest when No. 24 Ohio State comes to town on Sunday.
Thursday night’s race was sure to be a tough one for many reasons. Simply put, the Terps came off their worst loss since entering the Big Ten – 81-46 at the hands of Michigan. Rutgers, meanwhile, was riding high after beating No. 1 Purdue for the second straight season.
According to KenPom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency statistics, Rutgers also had the nation’s third-ranked defense. Jersey Mike’s Arena — formerly known as the RAC — can be one of the toughest venues in all of America, and if that defense gets going, the opposition can get “stuck in quicksand,” which is what Willard used to describe his team’s struggles. against the Wolverines.
The Terps jumped out to a 4-0 lead, which was accomplished with quite an offensive struggle. Maryland performed with a different intensity on the defensive end compared to recent games, but it didn’t seem to matter. Once again, Maryland was unable to generate any kind of offense, forcing Willard to burn his first timeout after his team trailed 11-4 before the under-12 media timeout.
Regardless, things continued to get worse in Maryland before they got better. Willard, seeing his team down 15-4, burned his second timeout before the 10-minute mark of the first half. In the end, junior guard Ian Martinez hit two free throws to cut Maryland’s deficit to 15-6 and snap an unimaginable scoring drought that lasted eight minutes, 45 seconds.
“Maybe I should hire someone, e.g [reporter] Jerry [Carino] when I’m your tweet, I should hire an offensive coordinator,” Willard said jokingly. “I thought I did this year. I think I could fire him now.”
The Terps held solid defensively and held Rutgers to more than five minutes of scoring in their own drought, but were unable to produce any competent offense. Almost unbelievably, Maryland suffered another long offense, this one lasting six minutes and one second before graduate guard Don Carey hit a triple.
Carey hit his second 3-pointer before the first-half buzzer, and somehow Maryland only led 24-17 at halftime. Maryland’s defense was mostly back to its best in the first 20 minutes, holding Rutgers to nine field goals and forcing nine turnovers, but its production on the other end of the floor made the second half an uphill battle.
Maryland seemed to find new life in the second half, hitting four of its first six shots. It cut the gap to just 34-30 with about 14 minutes left in the game, but never closer.
Rutgers went on a 12-0 stretch after what would be the icing on the cake in what would be another blowout loss for the Terps. Maryland trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half and couldn’t get within a lead after the Scarlet Knights’ run.
“Sometimes the schedule dictates how you play, and right now we’ve had three tough games on the road,” Willard said. – We have played well at home, we just haven’t been at home that much. So I trust these guys immensely. We’ll get it on the offensive again, I’m not that worried.
Three things to know
1. Another lousy attacking first half. The Terps scored 17 points in the first half, but somehow blew two wide scoreless streaks — one for more than six minutes and the other for nearly nine. Maryland turned it over 12 times in the first 20 minutes and had just 11 points with less than two minutes left in the half. The Terps have been awful offensively in their last four first halves against power conference opponents.
“I don’t know,” Willard said of the first-half offensive woes. – We have a good appearance in the first half. … They work hard, they get good looks, they’re good offensive players.
2. Where are the stars? Jahmir Young, Donta Scott and Hakim Hart were essential in Maryland’s 8-0 start. Since then, the trio has regressed offensively. In the first half, Young, Scott and Hart combined for just four points on 2-of-14 shooting. Young had a respectable second half and finished the game with 5 of 13 points–/ 12 shooting. However, Hart ended the game with two points while Scott had six.
3. Turnover galore. Maryland not only couldn’t mount any credible offense, but they couldn’t handle the ball at all. The Terps finished 20th Thursday – some sloppy, some forced – the most in a game this season. Three Terps finished with at least three turnovers. Maryland made more plays than scored (19).