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Maryland men’s basketball vs. Iowa preview (part two)

The Terps will look to go 4-0 in rematches this season.

Courtesy of Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com
Iowa Athletics

Maryland men’s basketball is back in action Thursday night when it takes on Iowa for the second time this season.

The Terps are coming off a loss to Ohio State in which they dropped to 11-12 on the season and 3-9 in conference play.

This marks the first time since the 2013-14 season that the Terps are below .500. Maryland now has eight regular-season matchups to try to get above that mark. The first opponent on that slate is Iowa.

Thursday’s matchup with the Hawkeyes will start at 7 p.m. and air on ESPN2.

What happened last time

After stringing together three consecutive wins over then-No. 20 Florida, Lehigh and Brown, the Terps were tasked with a road matchup against the Hawkeyes to start the new year.

Iowa jumped out to an early 14-5 lead at home and the Terps struggled to find their offensive footing at first. About halfway through the opening frame, Maryland was down as much as nine points but then momentum shifted.

Out of a media timeout, senior guard Eric Ayala hit a three and baskets from center Qudus Wahab as well as from guards Fatts Russell and Hakim Hart brought about an 8-0 run for the Terps to bring them closer to finding the equalizer.

Maryland’s run went on to extend to 21-6 and with seven and a half remaining in the first half the game was tied at 26 apiece.

The lead continued to change but with about three and a half minutes remaining in the first half, a missed three from Russell turned into a point from Wahab at the free-throw line as Maryland continued to push ultimately going into the locker room at halftime with the 40-36 lead.

However, then forward Keegan Murray, who had nine points in the first four minutes of the game and 16 points in the first half, broke through to close the game.

In the final 20 minutes, Murray led all scorers with 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting including a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc and also was 2-for-2 from the charity stripe.

Maryland kept it close throughout the whole game, even regaining the lead but could not hold on ultimately falling to Iowa, 80-75.

The Terps won the battle on the glass, outrebounding the Hawkeyes 38-34, grabbing 13 offensive boards and finishing the game with all five starters hitting double-digits. However, Murray proved to be too much for the Terps.

He finished the night with a career-high 35 points shooting 14-for-21 from the field. Murray hit five of his six attempted shots from deep and had eight boards and three blocks in his 38 minutes on the court in the Hawkeyes’ five-point win.

What’s happened since

After facing Iowa, Maryland went on to face two tough opponents in Illinois and then-No. 23 Wisconsin. The Terps kept it close against the Illini and lost by just one point against the Badgers.

Then came a double-overtime victory against Northwestern. The Terps looked to build on that when it welcomed the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to the Xfinity Center but they could not get it done.

After leading by 11 points at half, Rutgers outscored Maryland 43-21 in the second half to walk away with the 11 point victory.

In its last six games, Maryland has gone 2-4 picking up victories over then-No. 17 Illinois and Rutgers when the Terps faced each of them a second time.

Maryland is now on a three-game losing streak after losing the Indiana, then-No. 13 Michigan State and Ohio State. The Terps came close to defeating the ranked Spartans last time they played at home and now have the chance to try to secure the win against Iowa on Thursday to get back to .500.

After extending its win streak to four against the Terps, Iowa then fell to then-No. 23 Wisconsin on the road. The Hawkeyes bounced back with consecutive wins over Indiana and Minnesota before falling to Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Since then, Iowa split the series with Penn State, fell to then-No. 6 Purdue and most recently picked up a win against Minnesota for the second time this season.

Iowa is now 15-7, 5-6 in conference play and just 2-5 away with its only road wins coming against Virginia and Utah State.

Three things to watch

1. Will Maryland remain undefeated in rematches? Maryland is currently 3-0 when going up against opponents for the second time this season. After falling to Northwestern, Illinois and Rutgers the first time they played each of those teams, the Terps then readjusted and picked up victories the second time around. Now, after keeping it close with the Hawkeyes at the beginning of January, the Terps have the chance to keep their rematch streak going and find a way to defeat Iowa in front of a home crowd.

2. Can Donta Scott build off his last performance? In Maryland’s loss to Ohio State, Scott exhibited no shortage of fight. He tied his career-high shooting performance from deep going 5-for-8 from three-point range and was overall 8-for-13 from the field. He finished the game tying a career-high 25 points and added six rebounds. Now, back at the Xfinity Center, Scott has the chance to carry over momentum from his last performance with a chance to lead his team to a potential win in this rematch.

3. Does Maryland find a way to contain Keegan Murray? Murray was seemingly unstoppable the first time around. Finishing the game with a career-high 35 points shooting 14-for-21 from the field, 5-for-6 from three-point range, eight boards and three blocks, the Terps just had no answer for the forward. Since then, Murray has continued to put up high scoring numbers but none close to what he did against Maryland. His next closest performance since came in the next matchup against Wisconsin in which he put up 27 points.