Maryland plays fearless against Badgers to pullout 70-64 win
Mark Turgeon and his team crawled into the Kohl’s center hoping to find their first conference victory of the season and left the Kohl Center jumping for joy as they found their first victory against a power five opponent this season. Maryland has struggled after a hot start to the season. Early on, Maryland showed potential by shelling out points against their opponents and received top 25 votes in the NCAA coaches poll.
However, since the Big 10/ACC challenge, Maryland has not been able to put together a complete game of basketball until tonight. Mark Turgeon was rewarded after attempting to adjust his lineup over the past few games to find scoring. Tonight Maryland found a recipe for success with Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala scoring fifteen and sixteen points respectively for Maryland. After struggling early, Maryland found momentum in a highly contested second half over #6 Wisconsin.
Greg Gard and his #6 ranked Badgers entered the game after knocking off Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans to extend their win streak to ten consecutive wins in conference and earning the NCAA “Team of the week” this past week. The Badgers have seen success in large part due to their team shooting efficiently from beyond the arc with 5-of-7 players shooting over forty percent from range and overall experience with the Badgers having one of the oldest rosters in NCAA, with a starting five that is older than the starting five for the Chicago Bulls.
Tonight the Badgers seemed to be bothered by the Maryland defense and shot poorly from the field and from the free throw line going 8-of-15 from the line. The poor shooting kept Maryland in the game and you could see their confidence grow as the game stayed within reach late.
Maryland started the game with several turnovers, yet got some quality play from Chol Marial around the paint and Darryl Morsell on the perimeter. Mark Turgeon felt that Marial played his best game of his college career in their matchup against Purdue and Marial continued to improve his play to help Maryland start the game with the early lead.
The first half was a back and forth battle with both teams playing in your face defense in which only a combination of well designed plays and high end athleticism seemed to find baskets for either team. D’Mitrik Trice led all scorers with ten points in the first half and the Badgers led at halftime 28 – 24.
The second half began as the first half ended with both teams playing physical defense. The Terps defense kept them in the game as they missed eleven straight field goals but still remained within five points of the heavily favored Badgers. Wisconsin found several open looks at the rim due to Maryland overplaying rebounds and leaving open shooters for Wisconsin, which they took advantage of.
Maryland found some success after switching to the zone defense and forcing Wisconsin to shoot over the defense. While Wisconsin normally shoots well from distance as a team, the length of the Terps defense seemed to cause an increased level of difficulty. The momentum on the defensive side seemed to bring some confidence on the offensive end. The aggressive style of play tied the game forcing a timeout from the #6 team in the country at the 13:29 mark of the half.
With under ten minutes to play, both Maryland and Wisconsin found some rhythm with Eric Ayala and hitting a three from Capital Square with one second left in the shot clock, putting Maryland up one late in the game. The lead was short lived as Wisconsin would match on the other end, and this would continue the rest of the game.
Over the next few minutes, both teams played some of the highest level of Big 10 basketball has to offer. Both teams made adjustments; both teams picked up intensity on the defensive end, and for the first time in the game both teams fearlessly attacking the defense. The lead would go back and forth as six ties and nine lead changes would transgress as both teams relentlessly attacked each other on both ends of the floor.
With only a few minutes left, both teams seemed to take what it wanted with no regard whatsoever. Trice scored twenty nine points against #12 Michigan State on Saturday, and tonight D’Mitrik Trice smacked Maryland with twenty five points, four rebounds, and three assists. However, Maryland would stick around and look to each other to win this game as a team.
Maryland fans were beginning to grow frustrated with the team’s performances this season but have reason to have celebrate and find confidence in this team with tonights performance. Their defense continued to define who they are and they found the ability to beat one of the best teams in the country and playing the best they have played all season.
The Terps will close out 2020 with a matchup against an undefeated and #16 ranked Michigan Wolverines Thursday, 7:00 at Xfinity Center.