Mark Turgeon did not believe today was a must win game, but it was clear that a third straight loss would be devastating to the Maryland Terrapins tournament seeding. After seeing their 27-game home win streak snapped at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers and giving Minnesota their first conference victory of the season, the Terps delivered the first blow against Michigan. Maryland weathered the storm while the Wolverines made it rain from deep to secure a thrilling 86-82 victory against a tournament team.
Terps play their best basketball in “4 or 5 weeks”
Maryland came out a little sloppy to start the game in the turnover department but their efficient offense was keeping they in it. Five minutes into the game things were tied at 10 a piece. The Terps bursted through with a 14-0 run, while Michigan went over seven minutes without a field goal. Turgeon believed it was the best stretch of basketball the program had played in “4 or 5 weeks” since the dismantling of Ohio State. Unlike the Ohio State game, the Michigan Wolverines fought back with 3-point shooting that cost Maryland the game in Ann Arbor.
Wolverines end the first and start the second half with impressive runs
After taking control of things with a game high 16-point lead, 33-17, with 5:47 left to play in the first half, Michigan quickly went on a 13-2 run in the next three minutes. Maryland’s perimeter defense has been suspect for most of the year and it nearly cost them again today. The Wolverines finished 13 of 27 from beyond the arc and were killed by Michigan’s small stretch-four lineup while Turgeon wanted to stay big. The traditional Maryland bigs had a tough time guarding the likes of Mark Donnal and Kameron Chatman on the perimeter allowing 5 of 6 combing shooting. Michigan was still down five at halftime, but put together a 15-7 run after the break to take their first lead of the game since the opening minute.
In a heavyweight bout, both sides land equal blows midway through the second half
The usually raucous Xfinity Center crowd was stunned at the 13:55 mark with Michigan retook the lead. They were soon given something to cheer for as Melo Trimble hit a patented driving layup before Jake Layman drilled his third 3-pointer of the game off a loose ball situation. In less than a two minute stretch Maryland blitzed the Wolverines with an 11-2 run, but they could not quite close things out yet. Following a fade away Rasheed Sulaimon jumper, Maryland got cold from the field missing five of their next six shots with three turnovers sprinkled in. While Michigan was getting easy layup looks from Mark Donnal, repeatedly wide open under the basket following defensive rotations, they took their largest lead of the game (3) thanks to a 14-2 run.
Finishing late against a “good team that played really, really well” bodes well for March
When Robert Carter Jr. cleaned up his own missed jump shot with a putback dunk, Maryland took a 76-75 lead and did not look back over the final 4:46 of the game. Carter, on his way to a team-high 17 points, made all of Maryland’s last four field goals. Before Duncan Robinson hit a desperation three late for Michigan, the Terps had clamped down on defense by forcing six of seven missed shots as well as three turnovers. Maryland’s Rasheed Sulaimon and Melo Trimble calmly knocked in their set of free throws, the former under the pressure of one-and-one, to secure an 86-82 victory. Mark Turgeon said it was a “great win” and it was “great to play well” because they “beat a good team the played really, really well.”
Maryland receives unexpected boost from Damonte Dodd and bench
In the past three conference games combined, the Terps have only gotten eight points from their bench unit forcing the starters to play extended minutes. Today 18 points was good for the most points from the second unit in conference play since Diamond Stone joined the starting lineup. Damonte Dodd led the way with seven points, six rebounds, and two blocks, while Jaylen Brantley and Jared Nickens combined for 11 more points. Dodd had back-to-back blocks during the early 14-0 Maryland run in the first half and told me that the guards are confident that even if they get past them he can erase their mistakes at the rim. Brantley’s defense was superb with three steals, while it was nice to see Nickens knock down a couple of triples. In a game that Trimble would like to remember with seven turnovers, the bench arguably one this game.
The Terps will have a nice six days of rest before having to travel to Purdue for a rematch with the Boilermakers. Maryland got a nice resume victory by beating Purdue two weeks ago and hope to repeat their success on Saturday, February 27th.