Leaving College Park for a true road game for just the third time all season, No. 12 Maryland men's basketball came into Iowa City on Friday night looking to win its fourth straight contest.
That didn't happen, as the Terps were run out of the building in their 67-49 loss to the Hawkeyes. Here's what stood out from the team's defeat.
1. Maryland’s defense fell apart in this one
The Terps had done a tremendous job of limiting their opponents' leading scorer in matchups prior to Friday night. The team’s defense completely shut down Markus Howard against Marquette in the Orlando Invitational, limiting him to six points on 1-for-12 shooting from the field and 0-for-6 on three-point tries.
Maryland held its two recent foes, Indiana and No. 11 Ohio State, to under 60 points while containing Hoosier Trayce Jackson-Davis and Buckeye Kaleb Wesson effectively. But against Iowa, the Terps’ stout defense was nowhere to be found.
Heading into the game, Maryland’s objective was to stop two guys — 6’11 center Luka Garza and 6’3 guard Joe Wiescamp. But that simply didn’t happen, with the Terps’ unable to limit threats like they have previously.
Both leading men for the Hawkeyes ended with double-doubles. Wieskamp finished with a career-high 26 points on 9-for-16 shooting, including 5-for-9 from deep, and he also corralled 11 rebounds. Jalen Smith had a few blocks on Luka Garza early, but there was no truly slowing the big man down. The junior shot 38 percent from the field, but still finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
“Our defense, we just let up. And once they got hot, they didn’t cool down,” Jalen Smith said. “We didn’t really try to stop them, well we tried to stop them but it just wasn’t falling our way.”
It’s worth noting that Iowa did commit 18 turnovers and was forced into several scoring droughts, but Maryland never capitalized on the other end and allowed its opponent to get so hot at other times that it didn’t matter. While the Hawkeyes only shot 37.7 percent from the field, they converted on an impressive 39.1 percent of their attempts from deep.
“The fact that we let our offense dictate our defense the whole game on the road, that can’t happen,” Anthony Cowan Jr. said.
2. The Terps hurt themselves at the free-throw line
While Maryland didn't see as many chances at the free-throw line in the second half, it had plenty of opportunities to cash in on easy points in the first.
The Terps led for the first part of the first half until Iowa went on a 21-4 run. Right before that surge, Maryland had several chances at the charity stripe, but couldn't take advantage in an all-around bad shooting performance.
With 14:02 left in the opening period and the Terps up 9-5, Serrel Smith Jr. was sent to the line for two shots, but didn’t make a single one.
Iowa started on its 21-4 run a few minutes later, and with 48 seconds left until halftime, Maryland was down 35-22. Cowan had a chance to cut into the deficit and give his team some life at the stripe at that point, but he missed both shots.
“Everything was off tonight,” Cowan said when asked about struggles at the charity stripe. “We’ve just got to be a better road team.”
Maryland had 20 chances on free throws throughout the contest, but made just 11 of those attempts — a measly 55 percent. While those nine points change the Terps’ poor play all-around or change a 18-point loss, they could have helped the team get going at times and instill some key confidence.
3. The team couldn’t get any production from its leading sophomore guards
While they’ve struggled to shoot the ball like they did in their freshman seasons, Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala have been key contributors for Maryland all season long.
Going into Friday’s road game, Wiggins was averaging 10.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, while Ayala was putting up 9.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists a night. But the sophomore duo was nonexistent against the Hawkeyes.
Wiggins went 0-for-4 from the field and 0-for-2 from deep in Iowa City, and he also committed three turnovers. In a very uncharacteristic performance, he finished with zero points and zero rebounds.
“He just wasn’t hitting shots today,” Smith said. “They just wasn’t falling in, they rolled in and out. And we just kept telling him to shoot it, and the ball just didn’t bounce his way today. But I’m not really worried about that.”
Besides his two points by way of the charity stripe, Ayala also couldn’t make a shot, going 0-for-6 on field goal attempts and 0-for-3 on three-pointers. He committed four turnovers, but was able to help out with five rebounds.
“We had some guys that are really good players that just need to act like they’re really good players and play like it. And tonight we didn’t,” Turgeon said, not wanting to single anyone out. “We didn’t look like us. I mean, I’m looking out like, ‘Who are those guys tonight?’”