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Three takeaways from Maryland men’s basketball’s loss to No. 16 Michigan

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The Terps lose their second home game of the season to drop to 1-3 in Big Ten play.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland men’s basketball failed to ring in the New Year with a victory, falling to No. 16 Michigan at home, 84-73, to drop to 6-4 on the season.

The Terps kept things close with the undefeated Wolverines for much of the contest thanks to some stellar three-point shooting, converting on 10 of their first 13 three-point field goals. However, as Maryland cooled down the deficit began to grow, with Michigan using a 22-4 run to ultimately put the Terps away.

Here are my biggest takeaways.

Darryl Morsell’s presence was missed

The senior guard has been a vocal leader both on and off the floor for the Terps this season, but was forced into an early exit Thursday night due to injury.

With just under two minutes remaining in the first half, Morsell was in position for a defensive rebound but caught an elbow from a Michigan forward to the side of his face, immediately walking to the bench afterward for medical attention.

After being evaluated, the team announced that Morsell would not be returning to the court, later adding that he would be taken to a trauma center in Baltimore.

Trailing by just two at halftime, Maryland’s defense began to unravel down the stretch without one of its best point-of-attack defenders.

“Everything changed when Darryl got hurt. Everything changed,” Turgeon said. “We were a thin team before, and we became even thinner.”

Wolverine guards Mike Smith and Eli Brooks blew by Terp defenders off the dribble, forcing the rest of the defense to rotate and allowing the 7-foot-2 Hunter Dickinson to receive easy entry passes into the low-post.

Maryland was out-scored 38-29 in the second half, allowing for Michigan to coast to the finish line.

“[Just his presence] is big for us,” junior guard Eric Ayala said. “On the court, I mean, [Darryl’s] tremendous. He could guard one through five, his physicality, his toughness where he impacts the game just offensively and defensively. It was tough.”

The team later reported that Morsell had fractured a bone in his face and is expected to miss one to two weeks, a significant blow for team with a difficult stretch of games still ahead.

Jairus Hamilton is finding his rhythm

When it was announced that the Boston College transfer would receive an instant-eligibility waiver, it was a massive boost to a team that was lacking in bodies that could play on the interior.

And Hamilton’s transition to College Park had appeared seamless from the outset, starting in three out of the team’s first four games and averaging 9.8 points per game. Hamilton has since been reduced to a bench role, but has really begun to find his rhythm within the team’s offense as of late.

After the Terps struggled to find any scoring outside of Eric Ayala and Donta Scott, Hamilton provided the breakthrough with a catch-and-shoot three-pointer to keep Michigan from building on its largest lead of the game.

Hamilton’s decisiveness on the offensive end has been notably improved over the last two games, showing no hesitation to pull the trigger from beyond the arc, which is exactly what Maryland needs him to do.

Hamilton finished with a season-high 15 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range, contributing two assists in an all-around impressive display for the junior forward.

“I’m happy for him that he’s getting his shot back and getting his touch,” sophomore forward Donta Scott said.

Maryland struggled with turnovers

One of the primary reasons for Maryland’s recent resurgence following two deflating losses to Clemson and No. 14 Rutgers last month was its ability to take care of the basketball.

The Terps had endured its share of turnover problems earlier this season, at one point averaging as many as 14.0 turnovers per game over a four game stretch in late November through early December. But the team had since cleaned things up as of late, staying in single-digits in regard to turnovers over the last four games.

However, Maryland began to fall back into its old habits on Thursday night, giving it away throughout the game to allow for easy scoring opportunities for the Wolverines. The turnover problem came to a head at late in the second half, when two poor passes within two minutes of each other allowed for Michigan guard Franz Wagner to feast in the open floor and coast to two easy dunks.

“We started to hang our heads about the eight minute mark,” Turgeon said. “We’ve been really good, we just weren’t as good tonight.”

Maryland finished the game with 12 turnovers, the most its had in a game since its loss to Clemson on Dec. 9. Those 12 turnovers led to 16 points for Michigan, deflating Maryland’s effort at a second consecutive upset.