Maryland feeling good as shell! Give L to the Izzo, Win 73-55

Maryland’s Men’s basketball team marched into Xfinity Center this afternoon and kicked the Spartans out Xfinity with 73 – 55 message to the rest of the league. The Turtles are coming.

Michigan State hoped to continue their impressive three game winning streak defeating Indiana, #5 Illinois, and #4 Ohio State over the last week. After a difficult start to the season, it seemed Tom Izzo had his Spartans poised to make their familiar March to the tournament. The Spartans have made twenty-two consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament, all coached by Izzo and this season is far from a lock for Sparty. Maryland would have no sympathy for their Big 10 rival.

Maryland had not played a game in a week and the fresh legs of the Terps showed as they smashed the Spartans defense and opened the game on a 11 – 0 run. Over the first seven baskets, six different players scored for the Terps. While the Spartans were able to prove the mortality of the Terps by fighting their way back into the game, Mark Turgeon pulled a Xerxes at the battle of Thermopylae and ordered a barrage of arrows in the form of three’s (8-of-16) and free throws (23-of-24) to eliminate the Spartan army.

Eric Ayala led the scoring efforts with twenty-two points and Darryl Morsell shouldered the defense that held Michigan State to thirty-three percent shooting on the day. Ayala seemed to find ways to penetrate the Spartan defenses at will in the second half and Morsell battled his shoulder injury to shut down any player on the floor that seemed to gain rhythm.

The biggest difference of the game was the way Maryland started and finished the contest. Maryland found itself up twelve points early and Michigan State would skirmish their team within five points, but Maryland would decimate the Spartans by playing tough defense and continuing to punish the Spartans from the free throw line. Four Maryland players would score in double digits and the team would statistically looked similar to Michigan State in every major statistical category except from range and from the line where Maryland dominated.

Like a Chardonnay, the Terps have been getting better over time. Nearly two weeks ago Maryland fans wondered if Mark Turgeon’s bunch would have a chance to play in the NCAA tournament but after winning their last five games, Maryland appears to be a lock two weeks from now.

There are plenty of fans (Twitter faithful, I’m looking at you) love to critique Mark Turgeon, but his team was prepared for today’s contest.  Maryland was willing to sacrifice rebounding opportunities in order to ensure team defense in transition and double teamed Joey Hauser in the block to slow the rotation of the offense.

Both Donta Scott and Darryl Morsell continue to be unsung heroes for Maryland, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The smaller lineup has forced Scott and Morsell to consistently give up size around the rim and the Philadelphia and Baltimore natives represent their cities showing grit and tenacity on both ends of the court that allows Maryland to play faster on offense. The tactic also appears to allow specific roles for Smith and Hamilton off the bench for a more consistent and balanced lineup throughout the game.

Maryland is now officially 9-9 in the Big 10 with two games to play against Northwestern and Penn State who the Terps lost to earlier this season. Mark Turgeon and his team will continue to the pursuit of Madness this Wednesday in their final road game at 9:00 pm against Northwestern.

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