Maryland men’s basketball had a huge opportunity in College Park to build on its two-game winning streak and make a statement to the rest of the conference. Instead, the Terps laid an egg in a 68-55 loss to Indiana.
Maryland got off to a quick 8-0 advantage behind an energized crowd, but from there it was all Indiana. The Hoosiers limited Maryland’s leading scorers as both guard Eric Ayala and forward Donta Scott combined for just 13 points.
“Indiana came out and made some plays in very critical moments,” interim head coach Danny Manning said.
Following a win against Rutgers where Maryland made the most threes in a game it had all season, the Terps were abysmal shooting the ball. Maryland shot 29% from the field and 22% from three, with almost half of its field goal attempts coming from three-point range.
Let’s get to the takeaways from the disappointing afternoon in College Park.
Whatever hope still existed for Maryland’s postseason aspirations was shattered.
Maryland’s Saturday matinee against Indiana felt like the biggest game to date on the Terps schedule. Coming in with a two-game winning streak, it was now or never for Maryland to make its mark on the Big Ten and gain some standing in a deep conference that has troubled the Terps all year.
Maryland had been playing much better basketball lately, so there was optimism that could carry over to a tough matchup against a tournament-caliber team. That was evident in the crowd turnout, which even saw legendary Maryland alumni and ESPN host Scott Van Pelt in attendance.
However, Maryland’s on-court performance did not reflect the urgency Maryland fans were feeling. While they got off to a fast start, it was all downhill from there. After Maryland took an initial 8-0 lead, Indiana responded with a 13-0 run and controlled the game from that point forward.
After rattling off wins over then-No. 17 Illinois and Rutgers, it was clear the next two games would tell us a lot about where this Maryland team stands. The Terps had two quality opponents coming to town in Indiana on Saturday and Michigan State on Tuesday. In its first test, Maryland dropped the ball, showing its fans and the rest of the country that they are not a tournament team and likely won’t be with 10 games remaining on the schedule.
Maryland still has a big opportunity against Michigan State on Tuesday and will have the chance to knock off some of the top teams in the Big Ten — including Purdue and Ohio State — with a month left in the season. But any lasting hope that Maryland could sneak into the NCAA Tournament no longer exists.
While the Terps are capable of having monster performances that can lead to upset wins, the offensive inconsistency haunts this Maryland team.
Maryland fans did their part, creating a great atmosphere at the Xfinity Center.
For a program that has endured as many ups and downs as Maryland has this season, the team looked lost with a 1-6 record in the Big Ten. For everyone on the outside, Maryland’s postseason hopes were already shattered and it felt like a transition season that wouldn't garner much fan support.
But on the inside, Maryland’s players and coaches would never quit. The Terps rallied off two straight wins against then-No. 17 Illinois and Rutgers. Sitting at 3-6 and in 10th place in the conference, the Terps’ postseason aspirations still seemed slim.
But even with a struggling team and more uncertainty surrounding the program than ever before, the Maryland faithful showed out in a huge way on Saturday. It was the most packed the Xfinity Center had been all year with a raucous crowd ready to will this Maryland team into the postseason conversation. Unfortunately, the crowd can only do so much.
The energy was ecstatic in College Park right out of the gates, with Maryland jumping out to an 8-0 lead with threes from Eric Ayala and Donta Scott that prompted the fans decked out in all white to explode.
From there, the crowd's impact was minimal. Although the students and supporters did their part, Maryland did not.
“We had some opportunities early on to make shots,” Manning said. “We have to do a better job of, when we’re not making jump shots of getting to the paint and drawing fouls.”
It’s rare that fan support is still high in a down and disappointing season for any program, but it’s clear Maryland fans are desperate for something to root for.
The Terps went away from their offensive identity.
Manning has reiterated on numerous occasions how he wants paint touches and prefers the offense run through the paint. Even though last game against Rutgers the Terps were victorious because of their accuracy from three-point range as they hit a season-high 12 threes, that is an anomaly for the Terps, not a regularity. And even in that game, a big reason Maryland had success from long range is that they established its presence inside, which opened up looks from the outside.
Against Indiana, Maryland got away from that identity and failed to play through the post which led to stale and ugly offensive possessions. In the first half, Maryland attempted 15 threes and connected on just four of them. They were also dominated in points in the paint, getting outscored 22-10 in the opening 20 minutes.
Through the full 40 minutes, Maryland was outscored by 16 in points in the paint.
With the ball not running through the low block, Maryland made it much easier on the Hoosiers' defense, limiting driving lanes and contesting its plethora of threes.
“We didn't continue to attack the way that we needed to,” Manning said.
Indiana came into the matchup holding opponents to 38% shooting, the best mark in the Big Ten. That stellar Hoosier defense held strong against Maryland, limiting the Terps to 29% shooting from the field.
Maryland attempted its second-most threes in a game this season with 27, making just six of them.
“Tonight just wasn't our night in regards to making shots,” Manning said.
Maryland’s recipe for success offensively is when they slow the game down and get inside shots. When it attempts to out-pace opponents and fire from deep, it always ends in disaster. That disaster played out in a 68-55 loss to Indiana on Saturday.