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Maryland men’s basketball’s offense falters in 68-55 home loss to Indiana

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The Terps shot just 29% from the floor and 22% from deep.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland men’s basketball found itself down 12 in the second half to Indiana and it was clear that time was running out for Danny Manning’s team to make a push on its home court.

The Terps weren’t shy shooting threes on Saturday and junior forward Donta Scott tried to bring Maryland back to a reachable distance on the scoreboard with another attempt from three. Scott’s fifth three-pointer attempt of the game rimmed out and then Indiana was off and running.

Indiana’s Xavier Johnson spotted up from beyond the arc with plenty of room to let it fly on the next possession. His shot from deep found the twine, allowing Indiana to balloon its lead to an untouchable 52-37 advantage, while Maryland was stuck on a three-minute scoring drought approaching the halfway mark of the second half.

It was all wrapped up after Indiana stretched its insurmountable lead to 15. Maryland couldn't find an answer offensively the rest of the way, falling 68-55 to Indiana at the Xfinity Center in College Park.

“We have to do a better job before we’re not making jump shots and get into the paint and drawing fouls,” Manning said. “All in all, we got some quality looks, they didn’t fall, you have to credit their defense. We’ve got to come in here tomorrow and got to have a good mental day of practice and be prepared for another talented team... we have another top-10 team coming in on Tuesday and we’ve got to have a short memory.”

Maryland’s first loss since Jan. 18 moves it to 11-10 on the season. The Terps also drop to 3-7 in conference play.

Looking to build on its two-game winning streak entering Saturday, Maryland came out on fire in one of its more packed home crowds of the season. Senior guard Eric Ayala and Scott knocked down back-to-back threes to get things going for the Terps. That was just the start as Maryland went on an 8-0 run in the opening five minutes of the game.

Indiana went on to score the next 13 points, though, halting Maryland’s momentum.

The Terps hit a rut offensively and went scoreless until the 12-minute mark when graduate guard Fatts Russell, who had a season-high five threes in the last game against Rutgers, hit a three-pointer from the right side to bring the score back to 13-11 in favor of the Hoosiers.

Indiana’s swarming defense had a number on Maryland in the first 10 minutes. Maryland seemingly moved the ball well, but the Hoosiers were making their presence on the inside known. Only two of Maryland’s first 11 points came from the paint and Indiana had four early blocks.

“I felt like they clogged the paint pretty well,” graduate guard Xavier Green said about what Indiana did defensively to stifle the Terps. “We didn’t get a lot of paint drives, going to the paint with our guards that was tough for us... we weren’t hitting shots this game so that was big for us.”

The Hoosiers went on an extended 17-3 over a seven-minute span, but Maryland began to find its defensive footing. A few turnovers, most of which the crowd let Indiana hear it, eventually led to an Ayala three that reenergized Xfinity Center. Ayala’s second made field goal of the day put Maryland back in front by one with just over eight minutes left in the first half.

Junior guard Hakim Hart added his first two points of the afternoon off a feed inside from Ayala. His bucket gave Maryland the 22-21 lead. Hart found more paydirt on the offense a few possessions later off an Indiana turnover.

Forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, one of the nation’s best who came into the game averaging 18.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, capped the half off with an exclamation. He found some open space right in front of Maryland’s hoop and slammed down the one-handed slam just before the buzzer sounded.

The Terps ended the first half on a little bit of a dry spell, allowing Indiana to go on a 10-0 run to take a 33-26-point lead into the break. Maryland attempted 31 shots in the first half but only hit nine of them en route to just a 29% shooting clip at the end of 20 minutes.

Indiana’s momentum carried over directly into the second half. Indiana forward Miller Kopp nailed a three-pointer to put his team up 10, the biggest lead by either team up to that point. Hart answered back with a three of his own soon after, but Kopp kept the exchange of points in motion with another shot from deep to push the score to 41-31.

As time went on, Indiana kept expanding its lead. Whether it be hitting shots from the perimeter or making Maryland work on the inside, Indiana was getting it done.

Forward Race Thompson hauled in the Hoosiers’ eighth offensive rebound of the afternoon and gave Indiana the 45-34 advantage with about 15 minutes left. Thompson sunk a three-pointer later on to give the Hoosiers an 8-0 run and a 12-point lead.

The Hoosiers kept pulling away, even stretching their lead to 17 with only nine minutes left.

Jackson-Davis dunked another ball home just before the seven-minute mark, pushing his point total to 14.

“I think with Trayce, we let him use that left hand,” Green said. “Very dominant with his left hand... we let him get too comfortable with his left hand and he took advantage.”

Meanwhile, with 6:44 left in the second half with Maryland down 58-44, the Terps had just two players reach the eight-point mark.

It was a game of catch-up for the Terps, and their offense that hovered around 30% shooting wasn’t up to the task against one of the better defensive teams in the Big Ten this season. A few missed layups, a handful of unsuccessful shots from the perimeter and a turnover from Russell did Maryland as it trailed 61-44.

Russell exited the game with about four minutes left with what seemed like a hand or a wrist injury. The extent of the point guard’s injury is not yet known.

Indiana, a team that surrendered an average of just 63.4 points per game coming into the game, held Maryland to just 55 points, which ties the Terps’ season-low, in the Hoosiers’ 13-point win. The Terps never got it going from deep, missing 21 of its 27 shots from three.

“Offense didn’t change today,” Manning said. “Just one of those nights where shots didn’t fall... a lot of guys had opportunities, we struggled from the field shooting the basketball.”

Three things to know

1. Both teams were inefficient in the first half. There were plenty of shots to go around in the opening 20 minutes, but that doesn’t mean that they were falling. Both sides were under 38% shooting and under the 20-point mark with under seven minutes to go in the first half, accompanied by five combined turnovers. At the end of the half, Maryland connected on 29% of its shots and Indiana converted at 41% from the floor. Both sides were a combined 5-for-24 from deep in the first half as well in what was a low-scoring affair halfway through the game.

2. Eric Ayala and Donta Scott struggled. Two of Maryland’s top three scorers were a little bit out of sync on Saturday. The Terps’ top point-getter, Ayala, started out 2-for-8 from the floor and just 2-for-6 from three. Scott wasn’t much better at generating offense after putting up no field goals against Rutgers, hitting only one of his first six shots. Maryland’s offense struggled for the most part on Saturday and that duo finished with 13 combined points. Ayala had a very concerning performance, going just 2-for-12 for six points in the loss.

3. Maryland’s two-game winning streak was snapped. The Terps were in a tight battle with the Hoosiers until the final few minutes of the first half. From there, Indiana never let up and captured the win over the Terps in College Park. Maryland had plenty of hope coming into this one having won two straight games over Big Ten opponents in then-No. 17 Illinois and Rutgers, however, this loss put a dent in Maryland’s push in the second half of the regular season. With only 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Terps will have Michigan State on deck at home. The loss to Indiana only makes Tuesday’s meeting with the Spartans even more imperative.