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Takeaways from Maryland men’s basketball’s ugly loss to Michigan

Maryland trailed 39-19 at halftime.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

It was an ugly showing for Maryland men’s basketball in Ann Arbor as they fell to Michigan 83-64. Maryland put together its worst half of the season in the opening 20 minutes. The Terps were much better in the latter half, but it was too little too late.

Maryland went with a different starting lineup on Tuesday night as Ian Martinez and Xavier Green got their first career starts with Fatts Russell and Hakim Hart coming off the bench. Who was in the first unit or who came off the bench didn't matter much as Michigan steamrolled Maryland.

Eric Ayala and Donta Scott had solid performances for Maryland, but Ayala’s hot shooting hand didn't start to come alive until the second half when the game was pretty much out of reach. Scott finished with 19 points and Ayala finished with 22, while 20 of those came in the second half.

Freshman Julian Reese had a solid showing with 10 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes, but other than that, contributions were few and far between for the rest of the team.

“We got to stick together, we got to grind through it and we got to somehow find a way,” interim head coach Danny Manning said.

Let’s get to some takeaways from a forgetful night in Ann Arbor.

Maryland put together its worst half of basketball to open the game.

Ugly and disappointing would be an understatement for how Maryland opened the game against Michigan on the road on Tuesday night. After a second-half collapse against Rutgers on Saturday that saw Maryland only score 21 points in a half they were outscored by 22 to fall 70-59 at home to the Scarlet Knights, the Terps laid another egg to open the game against Michigan.

Maryland scored just 19 points in the first 20 minutes, its lowest total in a half this season, and was outscored by 20 to enter halftime trailing 39-19. Maryland was embarrassed on both ends of the floor in the opening half.

The Terps shot 30% from the floor and 20% from three to open the half. The only promising takeaway from the half was the aggressive play from Donta Scott, who knocked down two threes. No one else on Maryland made a three or scored over two points in the half.

Maryland turned the ball over 10 times in the half that led to 12 Michigan points. Michigan on the other hand shot 55% from the field and 40% from three. The Wolverines also outrebounded Maryland by six.

While Maryland came out of halftime with a much more impressive performance — outscoring Michigan in the final 20 minutes — it didn't matter because of the sloppy first half from the Terps.

Michigan bullied Maryland in the paint.

Maryland was dominated in the paint from start to finish on Tuesday night. Manning likes the Terps to work through the post and encourages his players to get paint touches. But against Michigan, Maryland got a taste of its own medicine. Michigan outscored Maryland by 20 points in the paint.

It wasn't just Michigan’s star Hunter Dickinson who was having success in the paint. The Wolverines' entire team controlled the offensive glass and whipped by Maryland’s defenders to get shots close to the rim. Michigan grabbed nine offensive rebounds and 12 more total rebounds than Maryland.

Neither Qudus Wahab nor Julian Reese was able to protect the rim or contain Michigan’s bigs. The Wolverines don't shoot a lot of threes and have struggled to make them when they do. Even when they are stale offensively, Michigan runs its offense through the post. Maryland knew that going in, but still couldn't contain the Wolverines' dominant inside presence.

As the game went on, Maryland started to give more attention to Michigan’s premier player in Dickinson. But it didn't matter as Dickinson got to any spot he wanted and was able to recognize double teams and pass out of them to find open teammates. Dickinson finished with 21 points on 10-for-14 shooting in his return to the lineup after missing some time with an injury. He also dished out a career-high six assists and cleaned up six rebounds.

“We were doubling the post early on,” Manning said. “And Hunter did a really good job of finding their shooters on good passes. We have to do a much better job when we’re going to double team having active hands and not letting the pass come out so easy.”

Maryland has a poor assist-to-turnover ratio.

Maryland’s offense has been bad this season for a variety of reasons. Whether it's the inconsistency from some of its starts, an inability to make shots at a high level or poor shot selection, Maryland goes long periods where they fail to put the ball in the hoop.

A big part of that is because Maryland lacks ball movement. Maryland may run one or two sets in an offensive sequence but if they break down, which they often do, it becomes one-on-one isolation basketball, which rarely ends in successful trips.

Manning has talked about how he wants to see the ball moving from side-to-side more which puts the defense on edge and allows the Terps to get more open looks. However, it’s pretty rare his wish materializes on the court. Maryland’s stale offense that fails to produce points leads to a plethora of turnovers too, an area that has been a problem for Maryland.

These lingering issues were on display on the road against the Wolverines. Maryland had 10 assists and 13 turnovers, while Michigan had 19 assists and 8 turnovers. While there are numerous factors that contributed to Maryland’s daunting loss, it’s hard to overcome such a poor assist-to-turnover ratio.

But the lack of assists and ball movement that led to turnovers wasn’t an anomaly against Michigan. This is something Maryland has struggled with all season. Maryland has turned the ball over 224 times and has 214 assists this season. That simply isn't good enough in a tough conference with sharp defenses.

“We had way too many empty possessions in the first half in terms of turnovers,” Manning said.