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Takeaways from Maryland men’s basketball’s loss to Michigan State

Catch up on some takeaways from the Terps’ defeat.

Michigan State v Maryland Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

For the second time in as many games, Jahmir Young had the ball with Maryland men’s basketball down by a basket in the final seconds.

Before Young could get a shot up, Michigan State’s Tre Holloman stole the ball, sealing the Spartans’ 61-59 victory in College Park on Sunday.

Here are some takeaways from the Terps’ fifth Big Ten defeat of the season.

A lengthy field-goal drought cost the Terps

Despite being the 347th-worst 3-point shooting team in Division I, 10 of Maryland’s first 12 shot attempts were from distance, and the rigid offensive strategy caught up to the Terps.

Three of the Terps’ early triples went in, but once Michigan State took a 17-15 lead with 12:59 remaining in the first half, Maryland’s offense predictably became stagnant, playing with the same lethargic style that reappeared midway through the second half.

Michigan State embarked on a 12-0 run in under four minutes, brining its advantage to 14 points.

“It took us a while to get used to Michigan State’s speed,” Willard said.

While the Terps’ defense would hold the Spartans scoreless for the next three minutes, the offense continued to look dismal. It took Maryland nine possessions to finally get back on the scoresheet — courtesy of a free throw from Reese — and another four minutes after that for Harris-Smith to end the team’s 8:29 field-goal drought.

Without Maryland’s defense stepping up, Michigan State’s 12-point first-half lead could have, and probably should have, been closer to a 20-point advantage.

“We got good looks, we got good shots,” forward Donta Scott said. “Sometimes, they just don’t fall.”

Maryland came out of halftime a different team ... for 10 minutes

The Maryland squad that came out in the second half of Sunday’s game looked like the team that took down then-No. 10 Illinois last weekend.

After a poor offensive display in the first half, the Terps found their offensive rhythm early in the second, working in rotations that allowed Julian Reese to take over in the paint. A 12-point halftime deficit was erased under eight minutes into the second half, with seven points coming from Reese in that span.

Maryland head coach Kevin Willard attributed his team’s hot start to the second half to its ability to run back in transition and knock down open looks.

But once the game was tied at 48, Maryland’s offense, which made five of its first nine shots of the half, fell back on its earlier ways. Over the next nine minutes, it scored just seven points, and the Terps committed seven turnovers in the final 11 minutes of the contest.

After Young hit a three with 8:26 left to give Maryland a 53-50 advantage, the Terps went nearly five minutes without scoring. Their defense held Michigan State to just four points in the same span.

“[Maryland] was the most physical team we’ve played,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. “That was an old-fashioned 90’s, 2000’s Big Ten game.”

Maryland finished the half with just 27 points on 11-for-23 shooting, turning the ball over nine times. Two giveaways came from Young in the final 120 seconds.

“We kind of hurt ourselves,” Willard said.

Close games continue to haunt Maryland

The difference between Maryland being on the NCAA Tournament bubble and being squarely on the outside looking in has been its lack of execution down the stretch.

The Terps are 0-5 in games decided by one possession or less. In the Asheville Championship, Maryland fell to Davidson and UAB by a combined six points. At Minnesota, it lost by three after taking a seven-point lead into halftime. And this past Wednesday, the Terps wasted a 36-point showing by Young in a 72-69 defeat at Northwestern.

In all those games, the Terps had a chance in the dying moments to either tie or win the game, but came up short. For Willard, the answer is simple: “We haven’t been able to get a stop,” he said before resetting himself. “I’ve made some bad play calls.”

Opportunity is a word that has often echoed around XFINITY Center this year, and the one missed on Sunday could have season-defining consequences.

“The only thing we can do is go out there and compete,” said Scott, who has just 12 regular-season games left in his five-year Maryland career.