Maryland men’s basketball collected by far its biggest win of the season Sunday when it upset No. 10 Illinois on the road, 76-67.
The win marked the Terps’ first triumph over a top-10 opponent on the road since Dec. 2020 (No. 6 Wisconsin).
Here are some takeaways from the stunning victory.
Jahmir Young and Julian Reese took over
Maryland’s game plan was simple from the opening tip — operate its offense almost exclusively from two-man action between Young and Reese.
And it worked to perfection.
“If they were going to play Coleman Hawkins at the five spot, then we were just going to go inside and just kind of keep pounding and pounding,” head coach Kevin Willard said.
The Illini had no answer for the Terps’ duo, which combined for 48 of the team’s 77 points.
Young was a menace at the hoop, knocking down floater after floater. He finished with a game-high 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting. He also added eight assists, over half of which went to Reese.
While teams of recent have forced Reese into double teams aplenty, Illinois seemed content to let Reese roll inside play after play.
“I felt a little disrespected, so we tried to go at him,” Reese said of Hawkins matching up against him without help for most of the game. “I told coach, ‘give me the ball and we’ll see what happens’.”
Reese scored 20 points on 50 percent shooting and corralled 11 boards.
As well, Young and Reese were stout defensively. Young, who played all 40 minutes, came up with a key block late in the game to all but ice the game.
The duo combined for five takeaways.
The Terps dominated in the paint
As mentioned above, Maryland’s pick-and-roll game allowed for a lot of easy buckets at the basket.
The Terps scored 52 paint points, a stark contrast to 26 for Illinois. 48 percent of Maryland’s points came from either layups or dunks, and it shot over 54 percent from inside the arc. After taking 12 3-pointers in the first half, Maryland took just five in the second.
Maryland’s defense also seemed to wear out Illinois as the game went on, as the Illini made just nine made field goals in the second half.
“The guys did a great job of listening to what we’re trying to do, and then defensively, I think in the second half we switched our post defense and it really helped us,” Willard said.
With Maryland clogging the paint, Illinois settled for many contested 3-pointers late, making just 1-of-14 in the final period.
A victory of massive significance
Willard said after the win against Michigan that every game going forward feels like a must-win after the tough start to the season.
On Sunday, Maryland pulled off not only its biggest win of the season, but maybe the most important during Willard’s tenure.
Maryland’s resume was bleak before Sunday’s victory. It was without a Quad I or II victory, sat outside the top-100 in NET rankings and had yet to beat a formidable opponent.
The Terps now have a top-10 road victory — their first in over three years — and are back up to .500 in conference play.
While it might seem like an overreaction to consider this result one that could alter the direction of the season, the outlook of this squad is absolutely changed for the better after downing the Illini on the road.
“It’s just a good start to the road trip,” Reese said. “1-0, let’s try to bring it back 2-0.”
A lot of work remains if the Terps want to have any chance of making the NCAA Tournament, but Sunday’s victory was a major step in the right direction.