Welcome back to the Testudo Times film room. No. 9 Maryland men’s basketball dropped its second game in a row and its second opportunity to clinch a share of the Big Ten regular season title as the Terps got blown out of the gym by Rutgers, 78-67.
From the start, Maryland looked out of sync offensively, and as the game went on, the Terps never snapped out of it. They shot just 6-for-32 from the three-point line and were often times forced into bad shots at the end of the shot clock.
Shooting woes are not new for the Terps and they often times are able to make up for it with strong defense, but that was not the case in this game. Maryland looked sluggish on defense all night and let Rutgers get too many easy shots.
Let’s take a look at all the impact plays that contributed to the Terps’ loss.
Execution on offense was as poor as ever
This play early in the first half perfectly encapsulated Maryland’s struggles offensively throughout the game. The Terps got a lot of good looks, but they failed time and time again to convert.
On this play, Anthony Cowan Jr. made a sharp cut to the basket, after which he could have went up for the contested layup. Instead he decided to pass it to Ricky Lindo Jr., who fumbled the pass forcing a kick out back to Cowan. After the kick out, Cowan swung it to a wide open Hakim Hart, who missed the three.
Sequences like this were fairly common Tuesday night and were a big reason why the Terps struggled to score points. Hart finished the game with just one point and missed all four of his three-point attempts. He is currently shooting 14.8 percent from deep, so it might be time for him start looking for higher percentage shots.
On this play, Maryland completely mismanaged a promising 3-on-2 break after a long defensive rebound. Serrel Smith Jr. led the break for the Terps, but decided to pump-fake in the paint and kick it to Donta Scott. Since Smith Jr. failed to hit Scott while he was running the lane, the freshman was met by Rutgers defenders immediately after getting the ball.
Scott ultimately kicked it out to a trailing Cowan, who missed his three-point attempt. In order to avoid this result, Smith should have either hit Scott in stride during the fast break or gone up with the shot after his fake. The hesitation after the fake is what cost the Terps points on this play.
When Rutgers lead ballooned to start the second half, it seemed that the Terps started to panic, which led to rushed possessions and bad shots with this play being a perfect example of it.
Maryland brought the ball up and passed it to Aaron Wiggins on the wing. Wiggins used a nice pump fake and drove to the hoop, but foolishly attempted to go up for a shot in the presence of three Rutgers defenders.
Wiggins lost his handle of the ball, which led to more fast break points for the Scarlet Knights. To avoid this result, Wiggins should have jump stopped into the lane and kicked it out to one of three wide open teammates on the perimeter. One of the teammates Wiggins could have kicked it to was Jalen Smith, who would have had a wide open look from three.
The Terps looked lost defensively
Jacob Young destroyed the Terps all game long, and this play was the start of his huge night. Maryland did a really poor job of getting back on defense on this play and that is what allowed Young to get going.
Cowan and Smith both decided to cover the same man as they got back on defense, which led to Rutgers having an open man as they swung the ball. Eric Ayala was forced to move away from Young after Rutgers got it to the top of the key, which gave Young enough time to gather himself with Cowan late on the close out.
Maryland’s struggles in getting back on defense in transition continued in the second half. Rutgers threw a great outlet pass to Montez Mathis, which allowed for the team to get going on the even, two-on-two break.
Ayala covered Mathis well here, but the problem on this play was Scott. As Mathis decided to kick it back to Ron Harper Jr., Scott should have popped up to cover Harper, but instead decided to continue running to the rim for a potential rebound. Due to Scott’s poor decision, Harper was left wide open and hit the triple to extend the Rutgers lead.
It’s not often that we say this, but Smith had a fairly rough showing defensively in this one.
On this play, Rutgers got the ball into the low-post to center Myles Johnson. Johnson initially faced Smith up, but decided backing him down was the best move. Johnson took a few power dribbles to get closer to the basket and then aired the hook shot right over the Terp for two points.
This bucket for Rutgers was simply too easy.
After Young got the ball to Geo Baker, Smith completely overcompensated to cover him and then gave up on the play. Once Baker got past Smith, he drove to the hoop and was met with a half-hearted block attempt from Smith Jr., who made no effort to step into the lane and actually play defense.
Rutgers forced a turnover from Cowan on defense and immediately turned it into points at the other end on this play. Wiggins and Ayala both did a good job of getting back on defense, but neither of them made a strong attempt to stop Mathis from getting to the hoop, which allowed for him to convert the easy layup.
The Scarlet Knights finished this one with 15 points on the fast break and did a great job all night of turning great defense into points at the other end.