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Maryland basketball vs. Iowa preview

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The Terps are back home after a blowout road loss.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

After a 30-point loss to Michigan State on Thursday night, Maryland basketball has a chance to bounce right back with a victory Sunday against Iowa.

It’ll be the Terps’ third game in six days; the slow schedule of December is quickly a thing of the past. Maryland split the series with Iowa last season, and this will be the only meeting between the programs in 2017-18.

Iowa is in a down year after losing its core from the last couple seasons. The Hawkeyes have already lost eight games, and their best win, per KenPom, is against No. 96 UAB. In four Big Ten contests, Iowa has come up short against Penn State, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State. But the Hawkeyes did win in College Park last year, and that hasn’t been forgotten.

Sunday’s game tips off at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.

Iowa Hawkeyes (9-8, 0-4 Big Ten)

2016-17 record: 19-15, 0-4

Head coach Fran McCaffery is in his eighth season with Iowa, holding a 146-109 record with the Hawkeyes. He’s been coaching since 1985, and has a 397-286 overall record across four stops. Mark Turgeon narrowly beat him to the 400-win mark after starting this season tied; McCaffery will aim to close the gap on Sunday.

Players to know

Tyler Cook, sophomore, forward, 6’9/255, No. 5. After establishing himself as a regular starter as a freshman, Cook is now Iowa’s leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 15.6 points and 6.6 boards per game. He’s tallied 28 and 21 points in the Hawkeyes’ last two contests, and with Maryland’s frontcourt depth a known concern, Cook should be the centerpiece of Iowa’s game plan.

Jordan Bohannon, sophomore, guard, 6’0/180, No. 3. Bohannon averages 11.8 points and shoots 43.3 percent on nearly six three-point attempts per game. He erupted for 30 in the Hawkeyes’ win over UAB and poured in 24 when Iowa beat the Terps last season. If he gets hot again, it could be another long night.

Luka Garza, freshman, forward, 6’11/235, No. 55. The Washington, D.C., Gatorade Player of the Year led Maret School with 24.6 points per game last season, and now he’s a starter in Iowa City. Garza averages 10.4 points and 6.5 boards in just over 18 minutes a night, and should see more burn in this homecoming of sorts.

Strength

Offensive rebounding. The Hawkeyes have a 34 percent offensive rebound rate, good for 51st in the country (Maryland is 31st). They’ll need Cook and Garza to be fixtures on the boards if they want to keep up with the Terps.

Weakness

Free-throw shooting. Iowa shoots just 66.8 percent from the foul line, which ranks 292nd in Division I. Bohannon and fellow sophomore guard Isaiah Moss both shoot over 80 percent, but they aren’t getting to the line often; none of Iowa’s bigs are anything near automatic from the charity stripe.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland stay out of foul trouble? Michigan State took Bruno Fernando and Michal Cekovsky out of the game with a slew of fouls, while Penn State didn’t have the same luck. Expect the Hawkeyes to keep feeding Cook and Garza and going at the Terps’ bigs, hoping to expose Maryland’s lack of frontcourt depth.

2. Who adds scoring besides the two sophomore guards? Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter combined for 42 of Maryland’s 61 points and 13 and its 20 made field goals Thursday. Fernando, now the third scoring option with Justin Jackson out for the season, had seven in that game and 17 against Penn State. Beyond that, Maryland has several players who have stepped up but haven’t been consistent. Scoring contributions from any combination of Cekovsky, Darryl Morsell, Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens will be appreciated.

3. Can the Terps keep the turnovers down? Maryland’s offense has been plagued by giveaways all season, but had just five against Penn State and 12 against Michigan State (who only scored seven points off those turnovers). Turgeon and Cowan are slowing the offense down, and if that means the Terps play more consistently in control, then it should prove to be a good thing.

Predictions

KenPom: Maryland wins, 79-70

Me: Maryland wins, 74-62