Welcome back to the Testudo Times Film Room. No. 17 Maryland men's basketball took a crushing 56-54 defeat at the hands of Wisconsin Tuesday to fall to 13-4 on the season and 0-4 in true road games.
For almost the entirety of the second half against the Badgers, it seemed as if the Terps were going to pick up their first road win of the season, but poor decision making down the stretch left them with their most deflating loss of the season.
The Terps received 47 of their 54 points from the trio of Anthony Cowan Jr, Jalen Smith and Aaron Wiggins, who had a very nice bounce back game after a really rough stretch.
Let’s take a look at the impact plays that cost Maryland its first road win of the season.
The big mistake
We’ll start with the most painful play of the season for the Terps to date. Coming out of a timeout with the game on the line, Maryland has to do better. Wisconsin was clearly ready and knew that the Terps would look to get it into Cowan, but the Terps simply did not adjust and tried to get the ball in anyways.
After realizing there wasn’t an open look on the poorly drawn up inbounds play, Maryland could have saved the game by simply calling a timeout and drawing something else up.
Plays like this that single-handedly lose games can be killer to team morale and can sometimes carry over into future games. It will be very interesting to see how Mark Turgeon and his team respond after such a grueling defeat.
The Wisconsin game now makes it two contests in a row where Morsell just did not have it. On this play late in the first half, the junior guard threw a terrible pass that airmails right over the head of Smith, who had great positioning on his defender. Had Morsell been able to connect with his high school teammate, it would have been an easy dunk or layup.
Morsell finished the game with just two points, four rebounds and four turnovers. Before the past few games, he had shown such tremendous strides offensively and looked to be a key contributor. The Terps need him to bounce back and get back to his usual production offensively.
This loss was not Maryland’s greatest game defensively, and quite frankly, they got lucky on a number of plays that Wisconsin simply did not connect on. Maryland struggled to get out on the perimeter and guard three-point shooters against Iowa and did the same Tuesday night.
Micah Potter set a high ball screen and stayed up top after to hit a wide open three from the top of the key. Smith, who is normally a great defender, had a mental lapse on this play and let the 50 percent three-point shooter, Potter, get a wide open look, which he converted.
This play later in the second half was another example of poor defense from Maryland in letting Wisconsin get wide open looks behind the arc. Chol Marial came to help Wiggins with his man, which left Nate Reuvers wide open to hit a three-pointer. Marial needs to do a better job of being aware of the situation he is in defensively and not letting his man get such a good look from deep.
Strong offense from Smith, Cowan and Wiggins
Had Maryland won this game, the focus of this breakdown would have been on the elite offensive performances put together by the trio of Smith, Cowan and Wiggins, but nevertheless, the Terps lost and their strong contributions will largely be overshadowed by the last 12 seconds of the game.
On this play, the Terps used the pick-and-pop action for Smith to perfection once again to convert the open three-pointer. Smith is now shooting close to 40 percent on the season from deep and 61 percent from long range over the past nine games.
After some nice ball movement around the perimeter, Cowan got the ball into the post for Smith and he did the rest. The sophomore took a second, used one dribble, turned and converted a beautiful baby hook shot.
Smith had another productive game for the Terps, scoring 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field. It is very clear that the Terps need to get the ball to Smith even more so than they are now. While Cowan may be the team’s best player and senior leader, Smith is the team’s most gifted player and he has shown it recently.
Had Maryland pulled off the win, this would have been one of the plays of the game. The Terps looked sluggish throughout the first half, but with this big three from Wiggins they found themselves only down five points at the break.
On this play, Wiggins swung around off the ball and was able to free up enough space to line up his shot and connect from deep. He had 13 points in this game and was 3-for-6 from range, looking super confident from deep. Wiggins needs to carry this momentum over into this next stretch of games for the Terps.
Cowan bounced back after a tough game against Iowa to score 16 in this one. He was very solid down the stretch — despite the final seconds — and plays like this prove just how important he is to this team.
With the shot clock winding down and nothing going right on this play, Cowan blew by his defender, drove to the hoop and converted the fadeaway to finish off one of his best plays of the season. Cowan is so good at creating something out of nothing and this instance proved it. The Terps are going to need him to continue to produce plays like this night in and night out.