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TT Court Vision: Turnovers and poor offense lead to No. 4 Maryland men’s basketball’s first loss

We take to the film room to examine key plays that led to the Terps’ road loss to Penn State.

maryland men’s basketball, bench photo, penn state, 2019-20 Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

Welcome back to the Testudo Times film room. The Terps took their first loss of the season in their worst performance to date, losing 76-69 to Penn State.

Not much went right for Maryland from the start, and the team looked sloppy throughout, committing a season-high 20 turnovers. Penn State stifled the Terps all night defensively, making them look like a team with no flow on offense.

After a grueling stretch of six games in the past 13 days, Maryland is off until Dec. 19 when it will face arguably the toughest nonconference test of the season at No. 22 Seton Hall.

Let’s take a look at the impact plays that cost the Terps the game.

Poor offensive execution

On this play, Makhi Mitchell and Aaron Wiggins executed a textbook pick-and-roll, only to miss the finish at the end. Penn State had such a strong presence down low throughout the game, but Mitchell likely could have made the shot or been sent to the line had he decided to use a pump fake of some sort.

Maryland had trouble finishing around the rim all game and this miss by Mitchell was a perfect example of it. The Terps were blocked 10 times by Penn State and only shot the ball 33.3 percent from the field in the loss.

Mitchell struggled in this game after getting the start to matchup better with the big lineup Penn State sends out. He missed all four of his field goal attempts and turned the ball over three times. Mitchell showed some nice flashes at times during the nonconference schedule, but looked completely overwhelmed in this game.

The freshman wasn’t the only Maryland big who struggled in this one. Jalen Smith also had a tough performance. On this play, Smith receives the ball in the post with a guard defending him. Smith was unable to take advantage of the mismatch and turned the ball over after taking a few dribbles.

Smith had the right idea to back down the smaller defender, but he probably took one too many dribbles, leading to the turnover. Had he gone up with a hook shot after the second dribble, the result likely would have been two points for the Terps.

At times during this game, Smith seemed nonexistent on offense. He only took five shots and struggled to make his presence known down low. Maryland struggled to get any sort of rhythm going offensively and the lack of involvement for Smith was surely part of the reason why.

Passing was a huge problem throughout this game for the Terps, and this play was a great example of it. Maryland played solid defense on this sequence and should have easily converted it into two points on the other end.

But Darryl Morsell simply overthrew a wide open Smith in transition, which led to a Penn State run. These are opportunities Maryland simply cannot afford to miss if it expects to win games on the road in the Big Ten.

The Terps found themselves chucking up bad looks far too often during this game. From the start, they had no flow on offense and found themselves with awful looks with little time left on the shot clock.

Anthony Cowan Jr. will sometimes hit this shot and bail out the stagnant offense, but Maryland cannot rely on him to do so every night. On a night where Cowan struggled — only shooting 5-of-17 from the field and 3-of-9 from three — the team relied on these types of looks from him far too often.

This play was a huge turning point in the game for the Terps as they were so close to tying the game. Maryland played great defense on this play, especially Donta Scott and Mitchell. But after rebounding the ball, Mitchell coughs it up and lets Penn State get an easy dunk.

Mitchell made a great rebound on this play, but he has to be smarter as the season goes on in a situation like this. The freshman big should have kicked it to Scott right after securing the rebound to start the transition break.

Penn State had too many easy buckets

Penn State really did not have the best game offensively, only shooting the ball 42.6 percent from the field, but it did a great job of taking advantage of easy looks.

On this play, Izaiah Brockington got the ball in transition and easily got to the rim with little defense from the Terps. Nobody stopped Brockington in transition, which ultimately fell on Smith. However, no other Terps made an effort to stop the Nittany Lion ball handler.

Maryland won the rebounding battle by a wide margin (48-33), but it seemed the Nittany Lions did a much better job of converting second chance opportunities, and this play was clearly evident of that.

After the offensive rebound by Penn State, Cowan and Wiggins both overcompensated defensively trying to force turnovers, which lead to a wide open floater for Myles Dread.

This play capped off a five point spurt for Penn State that effectively put the nail in the coffin for this game. Somehow Ricky Lindo Jr. was matched up with a guard, Myreon Jones, who was able to easily take him off the dribble and score.

One issue during this game was that head coach Mark Turgeon shied away from his lineup that has got the most production — Cowan, Wiggins, Eric Ayala, Morsell and Smith. At a crucial juncture in this game, that lineup, which has had so much success this season, has to be in the game.

Eric Ayala was a spark early

If it was not for Ayala, this game could have gotten out of hand very quickly. He finished the game with 15 points, seven of which were scored in the opening minutes, and showed how lethal he can be at times. On this play, he made a great dribble move to create the space needed to make the three-pointer.

On the very next play, he uses a screen from Mitchell to convert one of the toughest finishes we have seen all season. On a night where Cowan struggled, Maryland needed a lot more of this from Ayala. As the season goes on, it’ll be interesting to see who picks up the slack on nights where Cowan does not have his best stuff.