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Three takeaways from Maryland men’s basketball’s road win over Nebraska

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The Terps snapped their five-game losing streak and picked up their fourth conference victory.

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics
UMTerps

Maryland men’s basketball picked up its fourth conference win of the season with a road victory over Nebraska.

The Terps snapped their five-game losing streak and six players scored in double figures.

Graduate guard Fatts Russell led the way with 23 points, junior forward Donta Scott put up 15, freshman forward Julian Reese scored 13, guard Hakim Hart had 11 and sophomore guard Ian Martinez along with junior center Qudus Wahab scored 10 points each.

“We had a lot of guys score the ball for us, which is always good,” interim head coach Danny Manning said. “But I think our bigs set the tone early.”

Here are three takeaways from Maryland's first win in February.

The Terps’ shooting performance was much stronger in the second half.

Maryland finished the game shooting 53% from the field, 21% from deep and 73% from the free-throw line after a rocky offensive start in the first half.

The Terps have had trouble shooting from the 3-point range throughout the season. They were shooting from that spot at a 32.8% clip going into this Nebraska game.

Against Iowa, Maryland showcased its strongest 3-point shooting performance yet against a conference opponent making 11 of its 13 attempted shots from deep. Maryland’s highest 3-point percentage of the season came against a then-ranked Florida team in which the Terps made eight of their 13 attempted shots from deep.

Friday night was a stark difference.

The Terps were just 1-for-9 from behind the arc after 20 minutes of play. Junior guard Hakim Hart was the sole player in a Maryland jersey to make a three in that first frame but no one else could find success. Junior forward Donta Scott, senior guard Eric Ayala and sophomore guard Ian Martinez each missed one attempt while graduate guard Fatts Russell missed five attempts.

Before the Nebraska game, the Terps shot less than 35% from the 3-point range in 13 of its games, including going 5-for-18 in the most recent matchup ahead of this one against then-No. 3 Purdue.

The Terps also had shot an average of 42.7% from the field coming into this game and in the first half, they were slightly above that making 15 of its 32 (46.9%) attempted field goals. In the second half, however, the Terps already hit 15 field goals with about five minutes remaining.

With four minutes left in the game, the Terps had shot 65.2% from the field in the second frame.

Russell found his first 3-point basket in the opening minutes of the second frame while graduate guard Xavier Green picked up two of his own.

In the final 20 minutes, the Terps shot 59.3% from the field and 30% from deep, which was a good enough clip from the field to put away Nebraska.

Reese and Martinez made an impact off the bench.

Four out of five Maryland starters hit the double-digit scoring mark and so did two off the bench.

Senior guard Eric Ayala was active after not playing against Purdue due to a wrist injury but came off the bench and contributed two points in 24 minutes but it was freshman forward Julian Reese and sophomore guard Ian Martinez who really made a strong impact off the bench.

Coming into this matchup, the freshman forward’s career-high was 12 points. He hit that mark against both George Mason and Lehigh but the only Big Ten opponent he broke the double-digit scoring mark against was Michigan.

He finished that matchup on Jan. 18 with 10 points shooting 4-for-4 from the field including two 3-point baskets.

Reese’s career-high in rebounds and blocks was eight and four, respectively, ahead of the Nebraska game.

Reese already broke his career-high scoring with four minutes to go in the first half. Averaging 5.7 points per game, Reese shattered that Friday night with 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line in the first 15 minutes of the game.

The forward got into foul trouble and eventually fouled out but had a career game in just 17 minutes on the court.

With about nine and a half minutes remaining, Martinez had a windmill dunk off a steal to keep Maryland’s energy kick going.

“I’ve done it before, but right now like it really felt good,” Martinez said about the dunk. “I haven’t really done those kinds of stuff during this season so it definitely felt really good to get one.”

Martinez finished the night with 10 points shooting 3-for-5 from the field and 4-for-5 from the free-throw line. He also had three rebounds, three assists and a game-high four steals.

The game marked the second time in three games that Martinez broke 10 points and was his first game with four steals.

The steals tie his career-high he set at Utah as a freshman against Arizona State on March 6, 2021.

The Terps found ways to capitalize on Nebraska’s mistakes but struggled to limit fouls.

Highlighted by sophomore guard Ian Martinez’s half-court steal turned one-handed emphatic dunk with about 10 minutes remaining, Maryland forced turnovers and scored off them.

The Terps forced the Cornhuskers into turning the ball over 12 times and scored 21 points off those takeaways.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, however, Maryland committed just four turnovers. Coming into this matchup, the Terps were averaging 12.2 turnovers a game while their opponents averaged 10.6 per game.

Another way Maryland found a way to capitalize on Nebraska’s mistakes was by getting to the free-throw line. Although they fouled more times than they drew them, Maryland hit 24 of its 25 attempted shots from the charity stripe.

“We defend at a high level and we feel we did that at the Purdue game, for the most part, and we did this in this game as well,” Russell said. “But we just fouled too much I feel like in this game. But we were being physical, we were taking them out of their offense, getting steals and running out on the break so that was a good thing.”

However, as Russell mentioned, the Terps found themselves struggling to keep Nebraska away from the free-throw line. The Cornhuskers had 31 shot attempts from the charity stripe and made 25 of those attempts.

While Nebraska committed 22 fouls, Maryland fouled 24 times giving Nebraska opportunities to pick up points that way.

Green and Reese both fouled out of the game late in the second half while Scott and Russell also found themselves in foul trouble finishing the game with four. Still, even with the foul trouble, Maryland found a way to beat Nebraska by double digits.