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Maryland basketball vs. Ohio preview

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The Terps start their five-game home stand.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland basketball bounced back from a loss to Purdue by earning its first conference win of the season Sunday against Illinois 92-91, pushing the Terps’ overall record to 7-3 and moving the Big Ten record to 1-1.

Things couldn’t have started out better for the Terps, as they came out to a 10-0 lead in just over four minutes of action. Despite Illinois cutting the lead down to four points, the Terps still managed to enter the halftime break up 45-26. The second half started just as the first had, and Mark Turgeon’s team went up by as many as 22 points before things started to unravel. A mixture of too many turnovers and settling for tough jumpers allowed the Illini to take their first lead of the game with just under two minutes to play.

The teams combined for eight turnovers in a row, which opened the door for Maryland to stay in the game. With 4.7 seconds left and down by two, Kevin Huerter got open on the inbound play and had a chance for a game-winning three. However, the pass was too late and he missed, but Bruno Fernando tied the game on a tip-in to send it to overtime, which saw the Terps leave Champaign victorious.

The Terps will come back to the Xfinity Center for a matchup with Ohio University of the MAC. The Bobcats are 4-3 on the year thus far, most recently beating the Coppin State Eagles.

The game will air on Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. ET.

Ohio Bobcats (4-3)

2016-17 Record: 20-11 (11-7 MAC)

Head coach Saul Phillips is now in his fourth year as the leader of the Bobcats. For the second year in a row, Ohio was the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament but fell short of its goal of making the NCAA Tournament, something the Bobcats haven’t done since 2012. Before Ohio, Phillips served as North Dakota State’s head coach, and his team made the tourney in 2014 and knocked off Oklahoma in the first round.

Players to Know

Mike Laster, senior, guard, 6’5, No. 24. Laster is Ohio’s leading scorer with 16.1 points per game. He’s come into a much larger role this season than in years prior; his average of 35.4 minutes per contest put him in the top 50 in the nation.

Teyvion Kirk, freshman, guard, 6’3, No. 4. Kirk is one of the more intriguing players on this Bobcats team because of his lack of experience. That hasn’t stopped Phillips from leaning on him, as evidenced by his 14.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in 31.6 minutes.

Doug Taylor, junior, forward, 6’9, No. 45. He’s the tallest player on this team, and it’s his job to clean up on the glass for Ohio. He averages 9.6 rebounds per contest, second in the Mid-American. With the height Maryland possesses, it’ll be interesting to see how he adapts.

Strength

Defensive rebounds. Despite their height (or lack thereof), Ohio is one of the best teams in the country on the defensive glass. The Bobcats lead the MAC in that category with 30.43 per game, a number that puts them 19th in all of Division I basketball. Phillips’ team is content with giving up fast-break opportunities to stop the opposition from getting second chances.

Weakness

Interior defense. The Bobcats do a good job of containing a team’s perimeter shooters, but they struggle stopping teams from getting to the rim. As a team, they combine for under 3 blocks per game, which is 241st in the nation. Look for Bruno Fernando to take advantage of their soft shot-blocking.

Three things to watch

1. Is Justin Jackson back? Maryland fans were waiting for the star sophomore to have a breakout game, and he played an influential part in getting the team the lead early on. He shot 8-13 from the field en route to a 20 point game, which is a great sign for the Terps. He only shot 1-4 from deep, but he adjusted by getting open looks a closer to the basket.

2. Can Ohio succeed without Jaaron Simmons? Simmons was the team’s best player, having made first team All-MAC for the second year in a row. But for his senior year, the star decided to transfer to Michigan for a chance to play under John Beilein and have a chance to compete against better competition.

3. Can Maryland play a complete game? Too often this year, the Terps have played one very good half but struggled to play well in the other. They were down 15 points to Bucknell after 20 minutes, but they turned it up in the second. And against Illinois on Sunday, they blew a 19-point halftime lead. If Mark Turgeon wants an easy game, his team needs to be consistent throughout.

Prediction

KenPom: Maryland wins, 80-66

Me: Maryland wins, 77-52