After winning its first true road game of the season, No. 17 Maryland men’s basketball completes a tough road slate Sunday when it heads to Bloomington to face Indiana in a second meeting between the teams.
The Terps, who are coming off a 77-66 win over Northwestern Tuesday, and Indiana are currently tied with Iowa and Rutgers for third place in the Big Ten standings with each team possessing a 5-3 record (though the Scarlet Knights could take sole possession with a win over Nebraska Saturday).
While Maryland has had four days to prepare for the matchup, Indiana’s most recent game came Thursday night, which resulted in a 67-63 upset over No. 11 Michigan State. (More on that a bit later.)
“I think it’s an advantage for both teams because you know personnel,” head coach Mark Turgeon said about seeing the Hoosiers for the second time this season. “As far as preparation that should help you. Now, it’s a totally different game for us because it’s at their place, not our place.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on CBS.
Here is the preview from the first time the two Big Ten teams met.
What happened last time
Then-No. 15 Maryland opened up the new year by hosting Indiana and star freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis, who averaged 15.4 points on 66.4 shooting from the floor and 8.7 rebounds entering the matchup.
But due to the presence of Ricky Lindo Jr, Jalen Smith and Donta Scott, the Terps limited the Hoosier to what was then his season-low seven points on 3-of-8 shooting and five rebounds. (Jackson-Davis’ season low has since been updated to four points against Rutgers on Jan. 15)
Offensively, the Terps did not have their best showing in the first 20 minutes, but rode the backs of Smith and Darryl Morsell, who combined for 17 of the team’s 28 first half points. With the Baltimore duo leading the way, Maryland overcame a poor shooting performance — 29 percent from the floor and 25 percent from deep — to take an eight point lead at half.
With just under 10 minutes remaining in the game, Anthony Cowan Jr. sized up Damezi Anderson at the top of the key. After changing direction from right to left, the senior step backed and hit his only three-pointer of the night.
Cowan’s play electrified the Terps’ offense, who went on a 25-3 run to put away the Hoosiers in a dominant 75-59 victory.
Smith finished with a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds, Cowan and Aaron Wiggins contributed 13 each and Morsell had 12 points.
What’s happened since
Ever since his 2-for-3 performance beyond the arc against the Hoosiers, Smith has been on fire from distance. The sophomore has gone 6-of-13 from three-point range over the past five games and is currently the second-best three-point shooter during conference play, trailing only Wisconsin’s Micah Potter.
Three days after beating the Hoosiers, Maryland picked up its first top-15 win of the season, beating then-No. 11 Ohio State, 67-55. While the win was huge at the moment, it has slowly lost its glow with the Buckeyes’ recent tail spin.
Since the Ohio State win, the Terps have gone 2-2 in their last four contests, including losses on the road to Iowa and Wisconsin.
Along with Smith, Wiggins has found his groove off the bench, averaging 14 points on 45 percent shooting from the field and from beyond the arc.
Following its loss in College Park, Indiana has won four of its last five games, including a 12-point victory over Ohio State.
While Jackson-Davis has been up-and-down these past five games, scoring as much as 21 and as few as four points, Joey Brunk has scored in the double-digits the past three games. Though his stats — 8.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game — don’t pop out at you on paper, Brunk, who gave the Terps trouble inside earlier this month, is a crafty player that is starting to heat up as conference play rolls on.
Three things to watch
1. What can be expected from Indiana after its top-15 victory? As previously mentioned, the Hoosiers pulled off an upset over the Spartans Thursday night. Michigan State climbed back from a 15-point Indiana lead to only be put away by junior guard Al Durham and Jackson-Davis.
Near the two-minute mark with the score notched at 60 apiece, the Hoosiers found Durham alone at the top of the key and he hit a crucial three-pointer to give Indiana a three-point advantage. A few plays later, with five seconds remaining and Indiana holding onto a 65-63 lead, Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Cassius Winston drove to the lane and was blocked by Jackson-Davis, sealing the victory for the Hoosiers.
As it was against the Spartans, Assembly Hall will be packed with Indiana students and fans, including one who held a sign that read “You Rank’em, We Spank’em.” The sign checked out as the Hoosiers have won their past five games at home against ranked opponents.
“They are going to be playing a different Maryland team too,” Eric Ayala said. “I think we’ve grown. I’m looking forward to seeing how much each team has grown and how we compete against each other. I know Indiana is playing well. And I think rhythm now too, getting that road win — that was big for us.”
Maryland has played five games on the road this season, but Bloomington may prove to be the toughest environment yet for the team.
2. Will head coach Mark Turgeon get his first win at Assembly Hall? Since Maryland switched conferences, Turgeon has gotten a win in every arena — except Indiana’s Assembly Hall.
Turgeon’s closest opportunity to escape Bloomington with a win came during the 2017-18 season. Down three with seconds remaining, Maryland was able to get the ball to Cowan, who took one dribble and pulled up from the left wing but missed. The Terps had one more opportunity with a half-court shot by Kevin Huerter, who came up short with his heave.
3. Will the bench step up again? While Maryland’s starters struggled from the beginning against Northwestern, going 1-for-15 for in the first half, the bench was forced to produce. The Terps were led by unsung heroes Serrel Smith Jr. and Lindo Jr, who scored nine of the team’s first 12 points of the game.
Smith will ultimately get the credit, which he deserves since he dropped a career-high 25 points and was unstoppable, but Smith Jr, Lindo and Wiggins kept Maryland in the game early.
As the team heads to a tough environment against a red-hot Indiana team, Maryland may need the bench to step up again if it gets off to one of its characteristic slow starts.
“It’s really important for a deeper bench,” Lindo said. “Starters get tired. Stix plays a lot of minutes, Ant plays a lot of minutes. ...So they are bound to get tired once in a while. So it’s just important for the bench to stay ready, and make sure I’m ready too.”
Freshman Chol Marial could also be a wildcard Sunday. The South Sudan native, who did not appear against Northwestern and only played two minutes against Purdue, has been dealing with a back injury but has been practicing, Turgeon said on his radio show Wednesday.
The Maryland head coach clarified Friday that Marial was going through a few minor injuries such as soreness and he “slightly twisted his ankle” during Friday’s practice, but still may have the opportunity to play a few minutes against Indiana.
Vegas: N/A (As of Friday night)
ESPN BPI: Maryland 53.5 % chance to win
KenPom: Maryland 67, Indiana 66 (Maryland 53 % chance to win)
Me: Maryland 60, Indiana 67