In a game that, in recent years, would typically be a marquee matchup, Maryland men’s basketball came out victorious over Wisconsin, 68-63, in a sloppy Super Bowl Sunday affair between slumping squads.
After Wisconsin tied it at 60, Kevin Huerter gave Maryland buckets on two straight possessions that seemed to wrap up the game. Instead a timeout with 20 seconds left, allowed the Badgers to bring it to within one with a three-pointer. Wisconsin was forced to foul on the next possession and Anthony Cowan wrapped it up with two free throws at the line. Wisconsin would have one more possession but Dion Wiley was under the basket to get a block to seal the win.
Maryland started slow in each half, but was able to use a couple runs to close out both periods and snap its three-game losing streak.
Cowan and Huerter were once again the lifeblood of the Terps. They sat for a combined three minutes, and were the only Maryland players to finish in double figures. Cowan would finish with a team-high 21 points and add three assists, while Huerter also contributed 19 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Maryland’s shots didn’t fall early, as the Terps went just 1-of-7 to start the game, which included going 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, despite thee airballs, Wisconsin got off to a 11-4 lead, hitting three triples along the way, before Jared Nickens countered with a three of his own. Cowan added a tough jumper after a Wisconsin score, to make it 13-9 going into the under-12.
Seeing a couple shots go through the net, started to open up some opportunities for Maryland. After Happ went on a personal 5-0 run, Huerter and Cowan helped kick off an 22-5 run, including the half’s last 11 points, that gave Maryland its first advantage since the opening bucket. Maryland’s shooting percentage had ballooned to 56 percent, and the Terps had a 33-23 lead going into halftime.
With Michal Cekovsky still out dealing with a left heel, head coach Mark Turgeon got vital minutes out of reserve big men Sean Obi and Joshua Tomaic. Obi turned in one of his best halves as a Terp, earning “Obi” chants by the end of the first 20 minutes. He had three points and five rebounds in just nine minutes, while avoiding picking up any fouls and giving Happ trouble down low.
The second half started fairly slow, with Wisconsin cutting the lead to five before a monster jam by Fernando woke the crowd up.
Bruno Fernando.... oh dear pic.twitter.com/c3a6jd3Qxe— Jared Goldstein (@_jgoldy17) February 4, 2018
While Fernando’s slam woke the crowd, up, it was Wisconsin that would find its footing afterwards. The Badgers responded with an 11-2 run, with Happ in foul trouble, to take a 44-42 lead. Happ, with three fouls, returned at around the nine-minute mark to a game knotted at 46. He scored a quick bucket before Nickens responded his second triple of the game to break another field goal slump for the Terps. Those buckets set up a back-and-forth affair over the last eight minutes.
Happ had more rebounds (6) than points (5) in the first half and went just 2-of-8 from the field in his first 15 minutes. As one of the conference’s elite centers, he’d get his in the second half. He finished the game with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Cowan and Huerter took charge down the stretch and used a 7-0 run to give the Terps a 60-55 lead. The Badgers tied it at 60 with a 5-0 run of their own, but a bucket by Huerter allowed Maryland to retake the lead for the final time. Wisconsin got back within one, but Cowan hit his free throws at the end and Wiley’s block helped seal it.
The Terps are back in action on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET when they travel to State College, Pennsylvania, looking to sweep Penn State.
Three things to know
1. This game felt sloppier than it was. For once it wasn’t the turnovers either. The Terps limited their turnovers to nine, but there were whistles everywhere and both teams were in the double-bonus with over eight minutes left.
2. Bruno’s first double-team. After seeing the game Fernando had against Purdue, Wisconsin decided to double from the tip. It was his first time seeing a double-team in his career, and, while he made some plays out of it, he struggled passing out of the double team. Now that he’s seen a couple, expect Turgeon to give him some more direction in practice of how to handle those.
3. Maryland got a lot of small, but important contributions. The Terps only had two players hit double figures, but the role players helped keep Maryland afloat when its shots weren’t hitting. Nicken’s two threes came at crucial time for the Terps and Wiley would come up with one of the most clutch defensive plays of his career to cap the win.