Maryland men’s basketball squandered a massive opportunity to build its resume on Saturday, falling to Michigan State, 63-54.
The Terps shot just above 30% from the field en route to their lowest scoring total in a month.
Here are some takeaways from the loss.
Maryland’s defense was elite, but its offense was nonexistent
Maryland’s defense showed out against the Spartans. But so did its inefficient offense, which ranks second-worst in the Big Ten.
Outside of Jahmir Young, who finished with 31 points on 9-of-22 shooting, the Terps couldn’t buy a shot, with all other players combining for just eight makes. In total, Maryland shot 30.9% from the field, which included a 7-of-30 outing from 3-point range. It also committed 13 turnovers.
For nearly 35 minutes, the Terps’ defense did all it could to keep themselves within striking distance. Michigan State stood at just 43 points with a tick over six minutes remaining, having had managed just five made field goals in the half.
But Maryland itself scored a measly 14 points in the opening 13 minutes of the second half, and its defense simply had nothing left down the stretch. A 12-0 run by the Spartans in a matter of minutes put the game out of reach.
Reese’s foul trouble crumbled Maryland
When Maryland’s offense is at its best, Julian Reese gets constant touches down low. When he’s out of the game, the offense generally looks out of sorts.
“The fouls on [Reese] really changed the game,” Terps head coach Kevin Willard said.
Reese committed his second foul 2:01 into the game, and after an extended stay on the bench, he committed his third infraction with 7:04 remaining in period.
Caelum Swanton-Rodger initially saw the majority of minutes in relief, but Willard opted to finish the game with Jordan Geronimo at the center position. Swanton-Rodger was a team-worst minus-11 in the first half in just six minutes of action.
Limited to nine minutes in the half, Reese was never able to fully establish his presence and was forced to play with less aggression than usual.
What ultimately derailed the Terps, however, was him committing an illegal screen just eight seconds into the second half. While Geronimo was serviceable as a replacement — especially on the defensive end — Reese’s presence was deeply missed, with the Terps struggling to execute any offensive action for almost the entirety of the period.
Reese played just five minutes in the second half, finishing the game with only two points and one rebound.
How much longer can Young carry the load?
Young contributing close to 50% of Maryland’s scoring on any given night has become a familiar sight this season.
In the Terps’ five most recent losses, Young has averaged 26.4 points per game. The team has averaged 59.4 points per game in those defeats, meaning 44.4% of the scoring has fallen on Young’s shoulders.
Against the Spartans, he didn’t have his most efficient game, missing 13 shots — eight from three — but he was essentially the only Terp who had a feel for the basket.
“Even though he had 31, you know, I thought he struggled a little bit early coming off the bye week,” Willard said. “But his effort and his heart were unbelievable.”
Donta Scott, who was second on the team with 13 points, went 5-of-19 from the floor and made only one of his final 10 shots. Geronimo was third with six points, and Reese and Jahari Long’s contributions were a minimal two free throws each.
While having an All-American-caliber player on its roster is a blessing, Maryland won’t go far if the outside contribution is as poor as it was Saturday.