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TT Court Vison: Top 10 moments of the 2019-20 Maryland men’s basketball season

We take a look back at the best moments from the 2019-20 co-Big Ten champs’ season

Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

Welcome back to the Testudo Times film room. With the abrupt end to the college basketball season due to COVID-19, we at Testudo Times want to give the Maryland men’s basketball season the proper send off it deserves.

First of all, I want to thank everyone that read my film breakdowns over this past season. I enjoyed breaking down each game for you guys and I hope that the plays that I highlighted after each game gave you a better understanding of Maryland hoops and college basketball as a whole.

As we transition into the Maryland basketball offseason, Testudo Times will break down all the key moments and plays from the 2019-20 season that culminated with the Terps winning a share of their first ever Big Ten regular season title.

We’ll start by taking a look at the top 10 moments from the season. After this we’ll break down some of the top plays from each guy on the roster and also look at the top dunks and some other aspects of the this year’s team.

10. Maryland picks up first ranked win of season against Ohio State

Final score: Maryland 67 - Ohio State 55

In their first ranked win of the season, the Terps grinded out a tough win on their home floor. This game wasn’t Maryland’s best showing of the season, but the Terps got it done with their defense against a team that was considered one of the best in the country less than a week prior.

Anthony Cowan Jr. led the way for the Terps with 20 points on a night where defense and slowing the tempo was the name of the game, along with six rebounds. Jalen Smith contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks to the win, while Darryl Morsell added 10 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals.

The Terps were tremendous on the defensive end, allowing the Buckeyes to convert just 31.3 percent of their shots from the field. And they were able to turn their good defense into easy buckets on the other end of the floor, scoring 12 fast break points.

9. Jalen Smith leads the Terps to a comeback win at Northwestern

Final score: Maryland 77 - Northwestern 66

In this game, Maryland put together a first half to forget but a second half to remember. After trailing at halftime to the lowly Northwestern Wildcats, head coach Mark Turgeon challenged his team to change its season with a strong second half. And the Terps delivered.

Smith led the way for the Terps, putting up a then career-high 25 points to go along with 11 rebounds, two steals and a block. The Terps also got a nice game out of Aaron Wiggins, who scored 17 points and recorded five rebounds.

Although this game was against a far inferior opponent, the win had a tremendous impact on the rest of the season — just like Turgeon had hoped when he challenged his guys to be better at halftime. This was the second victory of the Terps nine-game win streak, and it was the team’s first road win of the season.

8. Maryland takes a huge road win against Illinois

Final score: Maryland 75 - Illinois 66

In this version of Maryland against Illinois, the Terps faced a similar challenge as they did in the team’s first meeting — a 14-point deficit. This time however, Maryland was able to cut the lead quickly and only trail by two at the break.

Maryland came out firing in the second half and controlled the tempo the whole rest of the way. Cowan was the leading scorer for the Terps in this one with 20 points to go along with six assists.

Maryland also got some great play in this one out of Eric Ayala, Wiggins and Morsell. Morsell led the way with 15 points while Wiggins added 10 points and Ayala added 12 points.

7. Maryland wins the Orlando Invitational

Final scores: Maryland 76 - Temple 69 // Maryland 80 - Harvard 73 // Maryland 84 - Marquette 63

Simply put, the Orlando Invitational was the Cowan show for the Terps. During the first two games, Maryland put together some lackluster performances, but the senior guard was there to save the day for the Terps.

During the first game against Temple, Maryland struggled tremendously to get anything going offensively, but its senior leader would not let this game ruin Thanksgiving. Cowan put up a then career-high 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting from the field and 4-for-8 from deep, along with four assists, to lead Maryland to the day-one win.

In the next game against Harvard, it was a similar story for the Terps — a slow start and poor offensive execution throughout. However, Cowan was once again able to prevent the Terps from being upset. He finished with 20 points, five assists and three steals.

In the finale of the Orlando Invitational, however, the Terps put together a complete beatdown of Marquette, leading by as many as 25 at one point. Cowan finished this game with 22 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field, along with six rebounds, four assists and three steals. He was named tournament MVP after the game and earned his first Big Ten Player of the Week honor of his career shortly after.

The win against Marquette wasn’t just due to Cowan’s play, Maryland also got a great game out of Morsell, who scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and held Marquette star Markus Howard to just six points. Wiggins had 15 points and six rebounds, while three other Terps finished with at least seven points.

To put in perspective how impressive this defensive performance was for Morsell and the Terps, Howard was the leading scorer in the entire NCAA this season, averaging 27.8 points per game. This was Howard’s worst game of the season by far, scoring a season-low as Morsell and Co. held him to 1-for-12 shooting from the field.

6. Anthony Cowan Jr. scores a career-high 31 points in win over Iowa

Final score: Maryland 82 - Iowa 72

In this win, Maryland got some much needed revenge over Iowa after the Terps got blown out by the Hawkeyes a few weeks prior. This game was all about Maryland’s dynamic duo of Cowan and Smith, who poured in a combined 49 points — as many as the team scored in Iowa City earlier in the season.

Cowan went off for a career-high 31 points and was simply unguardable in this one, making play after play. He also added six assists and six rebounds to his totals for the day. In this game, Cowan showed off all the skills that made him one of the best floor generals in Maryland basketball history.

Smith on the other hand dominated the paint as he went up against his big man “teammate” on the First Team All-Big Ten squad, Luka Garza. The big man from Baltimore dropped 18 points, grabbed 14 boards and had five blocks.

This was one of Maryland’s most complete wins of the season and one that somewhat flies under the radar because there wasn’t one big play or big comeback for the Terps during the win.

5. Jalen Smith hits the game winning shot as Terps win at Indiana

Final score: Maryland 77 - Indiana 76

This game against Indiana was very reminiscent of the Terps’ win over Michigan State that came a few weeks later. In this one, the Terps started hot and were up by a nice margin early. Indiana however came firing back and was able to take the lead in the second half and controlled the game for most of the final period.

However, Smith would not let his career day be ruined with a loss in Bloomington, Indiana. He was sensational throughout this one, scoring a career-high 29 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field. He also had 11 rebounds and two blocks.

Maryland trailed by six points with a little over a minute to play. Smith scored on a baseline drive and then got a huge steal in the full court press, which led to Wiggins knocking down a huge three to bring the team within one.

After another defensive stop, Smith and Cowan ran a pick-and-roll at the top of the key. Smith found himself wide-open on the roll, but was met with contact from the Indiana defender. Smith went up with a layup after the contact and connected to give the Terps a 77-76 victory on the road.

4. Anthony Cowan Jr. puts the team on his back to lead the Terps to a comeback win vs. Illinois

Final score: Maryland 59 - Illinois 58

In another game where all hope had seemed lost for the Terps, the team never gave up and somehow clawed its way to a win at home against Illinois. Maryland trailed by as many as 15 points in this one before coming all the way back to win.

This comeback effort was powered by none other than Cowan, and he would not let the Terps be denied. The senior point guard really did it all in this game, scoring 20 points, dishing out six assists and grabbing seven rebounds, to go along with three steals.

His biggest plays in this game came late in the second half. Cowan hit a three from way downtown to tie the game with around 21 seconds left. After that, he played great defense at the other end to force a steal, which led to him being fouled and winning the game for the Terps at the free-throw line.

3. Darryl Morsell’s game winning three lifts the Terps to a comeback win over Minnesota

Final score: Maryland 74 - Minnesota 73

In a game in which nothing seemed to go right for the Terps, Morsell’s big three-pointer was able to give the Terps a much needed road win amidst a tough stretch of the schedule.

Morsell got the ball after multiple teammates passed on solid looks and fired from NBA range without hesitation. He finished this game with 13 points and ended it with the biggest shot of his career.

After trailing by 17 points in the first half, Maryland came all the way back, led by a sensational second half performance from Smith. The star big man picked up three fouls in the first half, resulting in him playing just over four minutes going into the break.

Once the second half started, Smith looked like a man on a mission, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds after scoring just two in the first half.

Maryland also could not have completed this comeback without Wiggins. The sophomore guard scored 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field and hit some massive three-pointers down the stretch.

2. Anthony Cowan Jr. goes on a personal 11-0 run to lead the Terps to victory at Michigan State

Final score: Maryland 67 - Michigan State 60

Besides winning the Big Ten title (more on that later), this game might be Cowan and the Terps’ most impressive win of the season. Maryland led by as many as many as 15 in the first half of this game, but the Spartans came roaring back in the second.

Maryland looked sluggish and stagnant offensively in the second half, but got some strong contributions from Smith to keep them in the game after falling behind. Smith finished this game with 17 points and 10 rebounds and got the late game run started by cutting the Spartan lead from seven to four with a made three with under three and a half minutes to go.

After the Terps got within four, Cowan absolutely took over. He hit one triple after another to bring the Terps up five with just a few seconds left. He then hit two free throws to put the cherry on top of a 24 point day on 5-for-11 shooting from the field and 9-for-9 shooting from the free-throw line.

Cowan ended the game on a personal 11-0 run to lift the Terps to the big road win — their first in East Lansing since 2014 — and spoil College GameDay for the Spartans.

1. Maryland secures a share of the Big Ten title in eventual last game of the season

Final score: Maryland 83 - Michigan 70

On a day in which the Terps honored Cowan for all his contributions to the team over the past four years, it could not have ended any better for the senior leader. Cowan scored a team-high 20 points on a super efficient 7-for-11 mark from the field and also dished out eight assists.

Cowan has meant so much to Maryland basketball over the past four years and to see it all end like this was truly magical. He said that he wanted to come back for his senior year to raise a banner, and he and his teammates certainly accomplished that by winning a share of the Big Ten regular season championship.

In addition to Cowan’s strong contributions, Maryland also received big games from Smith, Wiggins and Ayala. Smith put up 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks to cap off a sophomore campaign that Maryland fans will not soon forget.

Ayala and Wiggins combined for 34 points — 19 for Ayala and 15 for Wiggins — leaving Terp fans wondering what could have been if the two had played like this in the now canceled NCAA Tournament. The sophomore duo’s development will be absolutely crucial to the Terps’ chances of having success during the 2020-21 season.

What could have been

The questions of what could have been will never end for this 2019-20 Terps team. They had all the makings of a team that could make a run to the Final Four with the right draw in the tournament. On the other hand, they also could have been extremely vulnerable in the early rounds if they let a fairly common slow start linger against a hungry mid-major. But, we will never know how this season should have ended for the Terps.

As Scott Van Pelt has said many times throughout this season: “Enjoy the moments.” Regardless of the incomplete ending, this Maryland men’s basketball team produced so many incredible moments that will live on forever in the program’s history books.