Maryland men’s basketball won its first Big Ten game of the season Wednesday night in an overtime thriller at XFINITY Center, knocking off Penn State, 81-75.
Maryland men's basketball kept its at home win streak intact after an overtime thriller against Penn State, 81-75. Jahmir Young and Julian Reese combined for 52 points.— Testudo Times (@testudotimes) December 7, 2023
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Here are three takeaways from the contest.
A sluggish start for the Terps
Maryland trailed for virtually the entire first half, in large part due to a terrible offensive showing in the opening 10 minutes.
Penn State’s defense halted any offensive rhythm the Terps tried to establish and implemented a full-court press, which Maryland struggled to break. The Terps committed eight turnovers in the first half, four of which came in the first five minutes.
Maryland trailed, 20-9, after the first 10 minutes, and its fifth turnover of the night resulted in audible boos from the home fans. But two and-ones from Julian Reese and a Jahmir Young three brought Maryland and the crowd back into it.
The Terps shot 28.1 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from three in the first half, compared to Penn State’s 46.2 percent from the field. Yet, Maryland trailed by just two at halftime.
Young and Reese carried the load
Young and Reese combined for 52 of Maryland’s 81 points and were crucial down the stretch, totaling nine of its final 13 second-half points.
Young finished with a game-high 28 points, adding eight rebounds and three assists — one of which was a beautiful pass to DeShawn Harris-Smith on a back-door cut to seal the game in overtime. Young was also 12-of-12 from the line and played a game-high 44 minutes.
Reese was dominant in the paint. Maryland was less efficient from the field, beyond the arc and the free-throw line, but its plus-22 rebound advantage, led by Reese’s 15, proved to be the difference. He also scored 24 points and shot 7-of-11 from the field and 10-of-15 from the free-throw line.
“I thought he did a great job just all night long, you know, picking and choosing his spots, being physical, rebounding and obviously making his free throws,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said.
While leading the Terps in points and rebounds should be expected from their two best players, it was even more important on a night when the rest of the team struggled.
Outside of Young and Reese, Maryland shot 9-of-30 from the field. Even Jamie Kaiser Jr., the Terps’ third-leading scorer with 10 points, shot 2-of-8 from the field.
Maryland’s first big win
Maryland entered the night with a 4-4 record with all of its wins coming against low- or mid-major competition. It won those games by an average margin of nearly 20 points, yet the combined record of its four opponents is 13-24.
But Wednesday marked Maryland’s first win it can truly be proud of — sort of.
It fell to a swift 11-point deficit, and its late-game struggles from the free-throw line allowed Penn State to send the game to overtime. And even with Young and Reese having their best performances of the season, the Terps still narrowly escaped losing to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten.
Maryland’s offense looked stagnant at times, and Kanye Clary torched its defense for 25 points on 8-of-17 shooting. But, at the end of the day, the Terps survived.
“Just looking at numbers, there’s really no joy right now,” Willard said. “I’m happy we won and glad that we pulled it out and happy for these kids that work so hard, but we just have a lot of stuff we have to fix.”