Maryland defeated the Penn St. Nittany Lions on Tuesday night 75-69. The game was tight the whole way, with neither team having a lead of more than 6 at any time. Penn St. was no easy matchup since they’re ranked #42 on Kenpom, but a loss to them would have still been bad in terms of resume since they were picked near the bottom of the Big 10.
Maryland seemed to struggle from the field in the first half, scoring just 1 three, and took a 4-point deficit into the locker room. Luckily for the Terps, their frontcourt stepped up with Kevin Huerter in foul trouble for most of the game. The duo of Michael Cekovsky and Bruno Fernando poured in 27 points and 17 rebounds, and brought some much-needed momentum swings like Fernando’s and-1 to take the first lead of the second half and Cekovsky’s and-1 dunk in the final minutes to put the team ahead for good. If these two can produce as a tandem for the rest of the year, Maryland can survive the season-ending injuries to Bender and JJ.
None of this discounts the work put in from Anthony Cowan who has been a grinder all season. He stuck to that formula and went 18-4-2 in 40(!!) minutes. The fact that Turgeon trusts him so much is a testament to Cowan’s growth not only as a player, but as a leader.
Maryland has definitely developed since the start of the season, which makes it that much more disappointing that some key players are done. A significant indicator of their progression is the lack of turnovers. I’ve plotted Maryland’s turnovers per game and you can see a negative relationship:
Darryl Morsell made some important plays, but he needs to pass on the flashiness in my opinion. He often does a good job of penetrating the lane, but just jumps and has to improvise without a plan. This leads to a lot of his shots seemingly getting blocked or missing badly which made him shoot 20% from the field tonight. As he earns more starting time, Morsell will need to look more for passing to the open player or going in with a plan. I have confidence he can do so, as these were the same problems Cowan faced last year and has subsequently overcome.
The Terps will play their next game at #1 in the country Michigan St, so this nice 7-game win streak could very well come to an end. Tip is set for 8pm E.T. on Fox sports 1.