Maryland men’s basketball couldn't find a way to pull the pieces together on Thursday night as it fell 74-64 on the road to Indiana. The loss snapped the Terps’ two-game winning streak.
Three Terps scored in double figures, with graduate guard Fatts Russell leading the way with 23 points.
“It’s coming up on my last couple games here at Maryland and my college career,” Russell said. “I’m just tryna go out winning. We didn’t win tonight, but I’m just trying to do anything possible to get my team the win.”
Junior guard Hakim Hart and junior forward Donta Scott combined for 24 points in Maryland’s 15th loss of the season. With a 13-15 overall record and now a 5-12 Big Ten record, the Terps will have three remaining regular season games to fight back to the .500 mark.
Here are three takeaways from Thursday night’s game.
The first half was full of odd scoring runs with a splash of inefficiency.
The game was going back-and-forth for some time, with the score teetering around a two or four-point margin for the majority of the first half. However, the Terps’ inefficiencies on offense abruptly returned with each team passing the 20-point mark.
Junior forward Donta Scott tried to drive into the paint as the Hoosiers expanded their lead, but he ran into a crowd of defenders. The ball was knocked away, but the Terps were fortunate enough to obtain the ball on the same possession. Hakim Hart had the time dwindling on the shot clock and hoisted up a contested three, only to have it miss the entire rim, resulting in a turnover.
The brutal back-to-back attempts from deep defined Maryland’s scoring drought that was 15 seconds away from hitting the seven-minute mark. Indiana had its biggest lead of the half at 28-18, but it was soon fall victim to its own scoring drought.
Maryland started to find some much-needed offensive jump to its game and it added seven points in two minutes to claw back. The Hoosiers, on the other hand, found themselves in the midst of a four-minute drought as the half had just a few possessions left.
The Terps went into the half 30-27, a mere 3-point margin after shooting at a dismal 36% clip from the floor and committing seven total turnovers. Hart and Fatts Russell combined for 16 of Maryland’s 27 points as the Terps shot just 9-for-25 in the opening half.
It was certainly a half off of strange runs, especially towards the end of the first half. Maryland was fairly fortunate to be down just three points going into the second half after going without a point for nearly 35% of the entire first half in a single stretch.
“I liked the moments... I thought we competed at times but not enough in this tough environment to get a win,” interim head coach Danny Manning said.
Maryland contained star Trayce Jackson-Davis, but Indiana’s next-best players minimized the Terps’ defensive progress.
The last time Maryland faced Indiana in a 13-point loss back on Jan. 29, Indiana’s bigs took advantage of everything the home side offered it.
Junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who averaged 17.8 points and 8.3 rebounds coming into the game, scored 17 in the first meeting. Then there’s redshirt senior forward Race Thompson, who entered Thursday second on the team in points per game with nearly 12.
Those two forwards combined for 35 points in the first meeting. However, the star Jackson-Davis was mostly held in check, coming up with only 10 points in 25 minutes of court time. Even with Jackson-Davis not being as dominant as usual, Indiana was in good hands with Thompson for the second consecutive meeting against Maryland.
Thompson excelled on the floor, scoring six of the team’s first 10 points and then not letting his foot on the gas as the game progressed. He torched the Terps again for 19 points on a brilliant 9-for-12 shooting clip. Thompson got the job done in the post and in transition as well, making sure his presence was felt on plenty of possessions.
As a result of the bigs sparking Indiana’s offense, the Hoosiers dominated in the paint all evening. Indiana finished with 44 points in the paint to round out its first win in awhile.
“Towards the end I just feel like we missed a couple of defensive assignments and they just scored a lot in the paint,” Hart said after the game.
But it wasn’t just the group of Hoosier forwards that brought it to Maryland offensively. Guard Xavier Johnson was the best player on the court as he finished with 24 points having made all seven of his shot attempts. Johnson added six assists in 27 minutes to go along with his game-high in points.
Maryland wasn’t beat by Jackson-Davis in this matchup, but Thompson and Johnson provided plenty of firepower to send the Terps home with a loss.
The Terps’ brief stretch of success was nothing more than a mirage.
Thursday night was a clash between two teams that were trending in two different directions.
Maryland had been in the middle of its longest winning streak since January, though it was just a stretch of two consecutive wins. Indiana had been in a state of disarray since beating the Terps on the road. The Hoosiers came into the meeting with five consecutive losses with three of those defeats coming by 10 points or more.
Still, it was Indiana that bested a Maryland team that seemingly had brighter days ahead after rattling off victories over Nebraska and Penn State. Those victories were clearly Maryland’s peak for the 2021-22 season: only being able to take care of the games that they are expected to win. The Terps came into Bloomington, Indiana, with a chance to take down an NCAA Tournament bubble team that has had its fair share of missteps in February.
Indiana found a way and brushed off its five-game skid, holding Maryland to just 43% shooting in the process over 40 minutes of play.
Maryland has yet to beat a truly formidable opponent in the Big Ten outside of a less-than-100% Illinois squad. The strongest road opponent it has taken down in the Big Ten was Rutgers (No. 72 in KenPom rankings).
So if this loss to Indiana proved anything, it was that Maryland’s two recent wins before Thursday’s defeat were simply just the Terps beating weaker opponents. Because outside of the Terps’ shocking one-point loss to Purdue on the road without Eric Ayala, Maryland hasn't been able to knock a top-half Big Ten team off on the road.
Maryland came within three points in the second half, but it just wasn’t enough to take down the hosts. The Terps will likely be underdogs in two of their final three regular season games.
Unfortunately for them, they won’t be carrying any winning streak when it faces Ohio State on Sunday at home. The Terps’ momentum was destined to be halted at just two in a row and they failed to take advantage of a slumping Indiana program.