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Maryland men’s basketball flips the script in rematch with Michigan, winning 64-58

Jahmir Young carried the Terps with 26 points as they improved to 3-4 in the Big Ten.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Thursday presented as much of a must-win opportunity as a team can have in January.

Maryland men’s basketball not only couldn’t have a repeat performance of its 35-point loss at Michigan on Jan. 1 — its worst since joining the Big Ten — but it needed a victory. With NCAA Tournament bubble talk growing, the Terps quieted the doubts and held serve at home.

Graduate point guard Jahmir Young, who has undoubtedly become Maryland’s best player, once again led the way with 26 points on 9-of-19 shooting. The Terps exacted revenge on the Wolverines with a 64-58 win, improving to 12-6 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play.

“We’re all competitors at the end of the day, and they got us, by what, 35 up there. So we know it was kind of like a homecoming for a couple of them, so they was gonna bring it. We just had to make sure we came out and threw the first punch and really just try to pull this one out,” Young said.

The rematch provided a much different tone to start than the first showdown, with the Terps jumping out to a 7-2 lead. Michigan led 17-0 in the first matchup between the teams, holding the Terps without a single point until the 12:09 mark of the first half. The Terps threw a 2-3 zone defense at the Wolverines immediately Thursday, mixing it up and providing a different look in hopes of containing Michigan star junior center Hunter Dickinson.

Dickinson, a nearby DeMatha Catholic High School product, has long made known his animosity toward former head coach Mark Turgeon and Maryland. Sure enough, in his first game in front of the XFINITY Center fans, they responded, raining down jeers from the seats.

The Terps contained Dickinson and Michigan early, constantly sending a second man at him, something that was rarely seen on New Year’s Day. Maryland raced out to a 15-6 lead powered by Jahmir Young’s early scoring flurry, prompting Michigan head coach Juwan Howard to burn his first timeout. Freshman center Caelum Swanton-Rodger checked in early to relieve sophomore forward Julian Reese, who picked up an early foul but maintained a physical start, and looked the part of a Big Ten big.

Maryland built its lead to double digits about 11 minutes in. Michigan struggled with a scoring drought lasting four minutes and 11 seconds, a theme that had hurt Maryland, not its opponents, in recent showings.

Swanton-Rodger — the sparsely utilized third-string big — played the unlikely role of offensive dynamo Thursday, capitalizing on the opportunity with Patrick Emilien (ankle) unavailable. Swanton-Rodger had four points — including a ferocious dunk over Dickinson — three boards and a block in the first half.

“I think [Caelum’s] seven minutes were probably the most important seven minutes we’ve had all season,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said.

Though the Terps seemed to have a total grip on the first frame, they only led 34-32 at the break. Jett Howard drilled three 3-pointers, Dickinson had 10 points and Michigan hit six of its last eight field goals to chip into its deficit. The Terps, meanwhile, were held without a made shot for the last 3:46 of the half.

Though Maryland started the second half on a 6-2 spurt, Michigan clawed back, tying the game at 42 with about 12 minutes remaining. Willard burned a timeout with 11:55 left, just moments after he was irate at the officials for not calling, nor reviewing, a potential shot clock violation on a Dug McDaniel jumper, which was immediately followed by a crucial Dickinson putback layup.

Dickinson checked out of the game at the 11:55 mark of the second half with the score remaining tied at 42. He remained out until the 7:04 mark, and the Terps took advantage, stretching their lead to 55-49. Maryland made 6-of-7 shots, including a string of four straight, before Dickinson returned.

By the time Dickinson checked back into the game, Maryland already had control. The Terps once again stretched their lead to 10 with a Young layup with 4:30 remaining for the star point guard’s 20th and 21st points.

Leading 59-52 with less than three minutes to play, the Terps got the massive defensive stop it needed. After giving up an offensive rebound, the Terps held strong, securing possession after a Reese block.

“I think Julian played as good a basketball game as you can against probably one of the best players in the country,” Willard said. “I thought he was physical all night, I thought he stuck to the game plan. He got up the line, he battled, he made it tough for Hunter.”

Young nailed the front end of a one-and-one, bringing the lead back to eight, but Michigan scored four straight to make it a 60-56 game with 40 seconds remaining. By then it was a foul-shooting contest, though. Michigan missed four 3-pointers in the final minute, and Maryland capitalized just enough to secure the win.

The Terps looked nothing like the team that was absolutely dismantled by the Wolverines 18 days ago, picking up a necessary split against Michigan.

“Maryland was the most aggressive team, especially, not just in the second half, but throughout the game,” Michigan head coach Juwan Howard said.

Three things to know

1. Welcome home, Hunter Dickinson. One could imagine that Dickinson has had Jan. 19, 2023 circled on his calendar for quite some time. The All-American has never been able to channel his aforementioned hate into an actual performance in front of Maryland fans due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and Big Ten scheduling. Dickinson could not match his 32-point, 12-rebound performance from Jan. 1, but he finished with an impactful double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds.

2. Jahmir Young is a game-changer. Sans a poor performance in the first game against Michigan, Young has been one of the Big Ten’s best point guards in league play. With 26 points Thursday, he wrapped up his fifth 15-point game in seven Big Ten outings. He has scored at least 24 points in each of Maryland’s three conference home games. In just 18 games on the high-major level, the Charlotte transfer is clearly Maryland’s best player.

“I think the biggest thing that we’ve talked about with Jahmir, and I’ve talked about Jahmir, was just being patient and learning the league,” Willard said. “I think he’s playing as good as any player in the country right now, and I think he’s gotten comfortable with the length and size he has to go against every night.”

3. A different script. While everything possible could have went wrong in Maryland’s New Year’s Day loss in Ann Arbor, the roles were reversed Thursday. The Terps started the game on the right foot. Reese stayed out of foul trouble. Maryland mixed in different defensive looks, frequently sending double teams at Dickinson. Maryland applied pressure and scored 14 fast break points; it only had three in the first meeting.

This looked like the 8-0 Terps who captured the hearts of their fanbase. They’re not quite there yet, but consistent performances like Thursday’s will push this team into the postseason.

“I’ll beat the dead horse. Schedule dictates how you play a lot,” Willard said. “UConn’s lost five in a row. I can go — Ohio State, who I think is really good, has lost five in a row. Schedule sometimes dictates how you play, and our schedule has been extremely brutal. ... my job is to make sure that they understand that sometimes when you go through a schedule — like when we got blown out [against] UCLA — that was my fault. That wasn’t the team’s fault, that was bad scheduling. Schedule can dictate how you play and I think we’ve had bad spells, but these guys haven’t changed.”