Despite a string of second-half runs from Maryland men’s basketball, Iowa controlled its contest against the Terps all evening as Maryland fell to the Hawkeyes, 81-67, Sunday in Iowa City, Iowa.
Maryland’s offense looked better than it has in other Big Ten road games this season, but its defense struggled to contain Iowa’s prolific offense. Maryland moved to 2-4 in the conference, with all four losses coming on the road. It returns home for a rematch against Michigan on Thursday.
Jahmir Young followed up a season-high 30-point performance against Ohio State with a 20-point showing against Iowa. Donta Scott chipped in 15 points as well.
“I thought we took a step in the right direction, believe it or not. I thought we battled on the road,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said.
Julian Reese got the scoring going for the Terps with two early baskets to give Maryland an early lead — something it has struggled to attain in conference road games this season. But after Maryland took a 4-0 lead, Iowa exploded on a 8-0 run.
Reese, who was the only Maryland player to score a point through the first seven minutes of the game, has been in constant foul trouble against Big Ten teams this season. Reese totaled 12 fouls in the last three games before Sunday and averages more fouls per game than any other player in the Big Ten.
When Reese gets into foul trouble, Willard usually elects to go with his backup big man, Patrick Emilien. Against Iowa, Emilien was out due to injury, seen wearing a walking boot before the game.
“He’s probably the most valuable guy we have,” Willard said about Emilien. “He doesn’t only back up Julian, he backs up Donta, too. ... It hurts our rotation.”
Willard said Emilien re-injured the same ankle that was bothering him this season at practice on Friday and will likely be out for an extended period of time.
Reese’s foul issues persisted in Iowa City, with the sophomore forward picking up two fouls before the halfway point of the first half. Willard was forced to leave a small lineup on the floor with Reese taking shifts on the bench. However, as Iowa started to pull away and Maryland went on extended scoring droughts, the Terps had no choice but to bring Reese back despite his foul trouble.
The Baltimore native was dominant offensively when he was on the floor, scoring eight of Maryland’s first 14 points. He finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
Maryland ranks No. 26 in the nation in two-foul participation, according to KenPom.com, meaning it is more willing to play its players with two fouls than most teams.
Iowa led 19-10 in the first half before the Terps went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to three. The low-scoring affair from both sides featured little outside shooting early. Both teams combined for 14 attempts from distance and four makes.
Maryland’s offensive game plan — similar to the one it executed flawlessly against Ohio State a week ago — was clear. The Terps abandoned the three-ball and attempted to score inside with dribble-drive penetration and post touches for their bigs against a relatively small Iowa group.
It was working for much of the first half as Maryland competed with the Hawkeyes on the road. That was until Iowa caught fire from three. After Maryland trailed by only three with just over seven minutes remaining, the Hawkeyes outscored the Terps 18-5 over the next four minutes.
Maryland’s first 3-point make — on only six attempts — came from Young with 1:28 to go in the half. Iowa sat in the driver’s seat for the majority of the first half, but Maryland made a late push in the half to enter the break down 10.
Maryland took control of the wheel to open the second half, rallying off eight straight points to trail by only two, courtesy of back-to-back 3-pointers from seniors Scott and Hakim Hart. The Terps drilled more 3-pointers in the first minute of the second half than they did in the entire 20 minutes of the first half.
But in a game of runs, Iowa went on its own, outscoring Maryland 12-3 over the next six minutes to regain control of the game.
“Our defensive intensity on the road is really lacking,” Willard said. “Even when we make runs, we’re not feeding off our runs.”
Reese picked up his fourth foul with eight minutes to go, sending him to the bench as Maryland trailed by seven.
He came back in the game with three and a half minutes to go as Iowa sported a 10-point lead. Whether Reese was on the floor or off didn’t matter much in the second half, as Iowa took advantage of Maryland’s defense regardless of the personnel, leading to a 14-point win.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s bench is non-existent, especially without Emilien. The preseason concerns about Maryland’s non-existent bench have been evident in its last few games. Patrick Emilien is one of the lone bright spots coming off Maryland’s bench, but there was no reserve to pick up his load Sunday. While Ian Martinez’s strides from last season to this one are obvious, he’s been a non-factor in the last few games. Willard tried to push different buttons, including playing Pavlo Dziuba early minutes and giving Caelum Swanton-Rodger some run. Ten players took the floor for Maryland, but the Terps bench combined for 11 points.
2. Maryland’s zone defense was ineffective. Maryland typically plays more man-to-man defense in the half court than zone. But against Iowa, it played a ton of zone defense, sometimes even going to a matchup zone look. Maryland struggled containing Iowa’s shooters when it went to its zone, allowing Iowa guard Tony Perkins to score 22 points. Kris Murray scored 19 points, 17 of which came in the second half. Maryland likely went to a zone to combat its lack of size, but it resulted in a dominant offensive performance from the Hawkeyes.
3. Maryland’s scoring droughts are too frequent. Maryland’s offense is a work-in-progress 17 games into the season as Willard reinvents his offensive approach based on personnel. The one thing that’s been consistent this season is extended scoring droughts. It’s more difficult to score when you struggle to shoot from distance and Maryland is second-to-last in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage. Maryland had multiple three-plus-minute scoring droughts against Iowa, leading to the Hawkeyes extending their lead with numerous runs.