For Maryland, it has become an all too familiar problem; poor shooting and execution on offense resulting in a conference loss. On Sunday afternoon in Iowa City, Maryland experienced one of their worse stretches of basketball this season. Players not named Melo Trimble went a combined 1-of-17 from the field. Even if you factor in Trimble's 5-of-8 performance from the field, the Terps still shot a putrid 6-of-25 from the field (24 percent) while committing 12 turnovers. It's never a good thing when you commit two times as many turnovers as made baskets in a half.
Maryland played significantly better in the second half, but by that point, it was too little, too late. The Terps scored one basket from the floor in the first 11 minutes and 30 seconds of the game before Damonte Dodd hit a layup with 8:30 left in the first half.
If Maryland played like they did in the second half during the game's first 20 minutes, they would have beaten Iowa on Sunday. Their second half showing was so much better than the first half:
Maryland is a team capable of playing much closer to the second half team that we saw on Sunday. Unfortunately, over their past several games and even since conference play began, we've seen a trend in both Maryland's offensive output and their opponent's scoring that does not bode well for the Terps (courtesy of Statsheet.com):
As you can observe from the graph above, Maryland has been experiencing two very unfortunate trends: opponents scoring more and the Terps scoring less. That's not a recipe for success.
Another unfortunate chart for Maryland illustrates the continued downward trend of their scoring margin average. Having a scoring margin trend downward once conference play begins isn't really shocking, as most opponents you're facing will, for the most part, be a better quality opponent than a lot of the cupcake games a team faced during the non-conference portion of their schedule. But in this case, the drop off for Maryland is rather large once conference play begins and then becomes extreme following their huge blowout losses on the road to Indiana, Ohio State and now Iowa (again courtesy of Statsheet.com):
Maryland is less than 10 points away from being on a 0-5 skid in the middle of conference play. Not only are they losing big when they lose, but they're narrowly winning when they are able to pull out a W.
Over their past five games, Maryland is also getting to the line a lot less than they were earlier in the season, averaging 18.6 free throw attempts per game. As a team, they were averaging more than 27 attempts per game just a few weeks ago. During that same stretch of games, opposing coaches seem to have focused on trying to prevent Maryland from driving and getting to the rim to draw contact by relying on various zone defenses. In order to break those zone defenses, Maryland has often been forced to settle for three-point attempts but over their last four games, the Terps have made just 25 of their 88 shots (28.4 percent) from beyond the arc. If the Terps are unable to consistently hit three pointers, they're not going to be able to force an opponent to go back to a man defense that allows players like Jake Layman and Dez Wells to utilize mismatches that allow them to get to the rim and score.
The biggest takeaway from Maryland's recent skid is that opposing coaches have exposed a weakness in the Terps' play. Until they can snap out of their recent shooting slump from beyond the arc or better attack zone defenses to work the ball inside, they'll struggle on offense. I certainly don't think Maryland will continue to play this poorly the rest of the season. They have time to figure out how to once again score effectively. And Wednesday's game against Indiana could be a great opportunity for them to do just that.