clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Maryland-Rutgers final score: 3 things we learned from the Terps' 60-50 win

New, comments

Dez Wells wouldn't let Maryland lose, and the Terps held on to beat Rutgers, clinching a Big Ten Tournament top-two seed.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland men's basketball team clinched at least the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament with a 60-50 win over Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., Tuesday night.

The 10th-ranked Terrapins (25-5, 13-4 Big Ten) had more trouble than they'd have preferred putting away the Scarlet Knights, who struggled to string together baskets on a night when they sent off four seniors. Despite taking a double-digit-point lead early in the second half, Rutgers (10-20, 2-15) came back to tie the score with fewer than six minutes remaining before an 8-0 Maryland run pushed the Terps ahead for good.

The Terps' most dynamic offensive players were their offensive lifeblood, with Dez Wells leading the way in particular. He had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Melo Trimble and Jake Layman scored 10 and 16, respectively. The Terps shot just 23 percent on three-pointers and 38.6 percent from the field.

Maryland started the game more crisply than usual for a conference road game, vaulting to an 11-4 lead before it was six minutes old. The game turned sloppy from there, though, with a series of loose balls getting away from both teams and a lot of shots not falling through the basket. Rutgers shot a poor 9-of-30 from the field in the first half, while Maryland shot an only-decent 42 percent. The half brought two compelling moments: when Wells literally jumped over Rutgers guard Myles Mack to draw a travel, and when he, well, jumped over two defenders for a vicious dunk just before Maryland entered halftime with a 31-23 advantage.

A couple of Layman three-pointers helped Maryland get out to another quick start in the second half, but a short run by Rutgers got the Scarlet Knights back to within striking distance as the game wound down. The Terps led by only three points at the second half's under-eight media timeout. Mack tied the game with a three-pointer immediately thereafter, but Maryland's response was abrupt. Wells scored six straight points, culminating with a tomahawk dunk after a steal, and a Damonte Dodd flush on the next possession gave Maryland an 8-0 run after letting Rutgers equalize.

Of course, Maryland still wasn't all the way home. Rutgers answered with a 5-0 run of its own, cutting its deficit to three again with just inside two minutes to play. Maryland's response, again, came from Wells, who scored on a drive to make Maryland's lead five with a minute left. From there, Maryland held on.

The win formally secured Maryland in the top two places in the Big Ten standings, but it's extraordinarily unlikely that the Terps will catch league-leading Wisconsin. It's all but certain that Maryland will be the conference's second seed.

Three things we learned

1. Kadeem Jack's first-half stat line was genuinely unbelievable. This is only peripherally Maryland-related, but it's worth mentioning for how outrageous it was. In the first half, the Rutgers center took a game-high seven shots from the field. He made none of them, and he was a futile 0-of-2 at the foul line. That's complete offensive ineptitude. And yet, Jack had 9 rebounds in the first half (his season average is 6) and essentially dominated the Terps on the glass for the entire 20 minutes. It was just a weird, weird half. It wouldn't be fair not to mention it. Oh, and he air-balled a free throw in the second half. What a night.

2. Maryland's big three was its biggest three. By this point, it's no secret that Trimble, Wells and Layman are the bulk of Maryland's offense. They score more than half of the Terps' points on average. But Tuesday, in particular, was an exhibition in the trio's dominance. They combined for 44 of Maryland's 60 points and overwhelmed a Rutgers team that simply doesn't have the firepower to match up with even one or two players – let alone three – of their caliber. But it was really Wells' show.

3. All was well that ended with Wells. Maryland was flirting with disaster when Rutgers tied the game at 45-45 late in the second half, but Wells turned the game on its head all by himself after that. He mounted a personal 6-0 run to stake Maryland back to the lead it had lost, and he gave the Terps a lift they desperately needed. Wells didn't play well for the season's first two months or so, but he said at the end of January that his primary aim was to be playing his best basketball come March. After Tuesday, it certainly seems Wells is meeting that goal.