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Three takeaways from Maryland men’s basketball’s ugly showing against Iowa

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Maryland gave up a season-high 110 points in the loss.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Maryland men’s basketball displayed another poor showing as it was decimated by Iowa 110-87 for the Terps’ largest defeat of the season in College Park on Thursday night.

It was also a poor outing from Maryland fans and students who appear to have given up on a lost season. The lack of attendance translated to a lack of effort on the floor. Maryland was torched defensively, giving up 57 first-half points and 110 for the game.

While the Terps actually shot the ball well, particularly from three-point range in the first half, it amounted to nothing because Iowa scored at will against a weak Maryland defense.

At one point in the second half, Maryland was losing by 30. 110 was the most points the Terps gave up this season, and the most they have ever given up in the Xfinity Center. Iowa’s stars Jordan Bohannon and Keegan Murray combined for 60 points.

Let’s get to the takeaways from the Terps’ loss in College Park.

Maryland’s defense was atrocious from start to finish.

While Maryland had one of its best offensive halves of the season in Big Ten play, it didn’t matter much because they could not get any defensive stops. Iowa scored at will from inside the paint and got open looks on the perimeter. Whether it was poor effort, poor game planning or a lack of communication, the Terps were embarrassed on the defensive end.

Almost every trip down the floor Iowa was able to find an open look, often converting. Maryland gave up 57 first-half points, the most it has in an opening half this season. Iowa shot 60% from the field in the first half and 63% from three. They made 10 threes, four more than Maryland and many of those looks were open.

For the game, Maryland gave up a season-high 110 points and 19 threes.

Iowa’s three-point weapon Jordan Bohannon was phenomenal from the perimeter, and Maryland had no answers. He drilled six threes in the first half on nine attempts and finished the game with 10 made threes. Whether it was in transition, off a screen or just a catch-and-shoot triple, Bohannon was untouched from three.

Iowa’s star Keegan Murray also got whatever look he wanted after going off for a career-high 35 the last time these teams met over a month ago. He added 16 in the first half and 30 for the game.

While Iowa isn’t a small team, they are not particularly big either. But that didn’t stop the Hawkeyes from dominating the glass. Iowa outrebounded Maryland 17-10 in the first half. Iowa made 10 threes in the first half but it also outscored Maryland 22-12 in points in the paint.

It would be one thing if Iowa was making difficult shots and finding ways to score despite good defense. But that wasn't the case on Thursday. The overall defensive effort was as poor as it has been all season. And coming off a lethargic performance against Ohio State, it was expected Maryland would show more effort at home, even if the season is coming to a close with little to play for. That was far from reality, as Maryland’s defense was torched just about every time down the floor.

“When a team comes in your building and shoots 60% in both halves, you have to find a way to be a lot more disruptive,” interim head coach Danny Manning said.

Maryland’s hot shooting carried it early, but it couldn't keep up.

It’s a rarity when Maryland is knocking down threes at a high percentage, but on Thursday night, that was the case. Maryland started the game red-hot from long range, knocking down its first five attempts, the first time it did so all season. Four different players nailed a three through the first eight minutes, contributing to the strong offensive start.

The Terps typically like to insert themselves in the paint and look for dribble-drive opportunities to get shots at the rim. When Maryland settles from distance, it has typically ended in disaster this season. But against Iowa, half of the Terps' first 10 attempts were from three, and it allowed Maryland to stay afloat against Iowa’s potent offense.

The Terps were also moving the ball at a much faster rate, generating assists and open looks. Point guard Fatts Russell had 5 assists through 10 minutes of action. It was Hakim Hart, who has shown he is an improved three-point shooter this season but has still been streaky at times, that led the three-point barrage for Maryland. He started the game 3-for-3 from distance and finished with 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting.

Anytime Maryland can shoot 75% from three, 56% from the field and score 41 points in a half, they will take that. The problem was on the other side of the ball, where every time Maryland got a scoring burst, Iowa responded with a basket of its own. Maryland trailed 57-41 after the first half.

“They were continuing to make shots and we started missing shots,” Manning said on what changed from the first half to the second.

The second half was the same story. Maryland played a good offensive game, but its horrible defensive showing masked any improvement on the offensive end.

Maryland will likely finish in the bottom four of the conference, but it has winnable games ahead.

If it wasn't already apparent, Maryland’s season is lost and they are going to finish in the basement of the Big Ten. With the loss to Iowa, they move to 3-10 in conference play and are in 12th place in the Big Ten.

The bottom four teams in the conference play in the first round of the Big Ten tournament which begins on March 9. Maryland obviously hopes it can finish outside the bottom four in tenth place to avoid that opening-round game. But as of now, it looks like that will not be the case.

Maryland is one game behind Penn State for 11th place and two games behind Northwestern for 10th place. The good news for Maryland is they have upcoming matchups against some of the other teams at the bottom of the conference.

Maryland has seven games remaining and plays Minnesota, Penn State and Nebraska, three of the four last-place teams in the conference. If it can win all three of those, and also potentially upset a highly touted team, it will have a chance to get that 10th seed and avoid the first day of the Big Ten tournament.

However, no matter who the opponent is, the Terps will need to show a lot more effort than they did against Iowa to pick up some late-season wins.

“We’re just gonna keep fighting,” Russell said. “You know at any moment the season can change.”