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TT Court Vision: Maryland picks up back-to-back wins against Nebraska to keep tournament hopes alive

We take to the film to see how Maryland was more efficient on offense from game one to game two.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the Testudo Times film room. This week, Maryland played its first back-to-back series since 1949. In both games, the Terps took care of business against a struggling Nebraska team.

With the two conference wins, along with a victory over Minnesota on Sunday, Maryland improved to 13-10 on the year (7-9 Big Ten) and significantly boosted its chances of receiving a bid to the big dance. Against a lesser opponent, the Terps were more productive on the offensive end, especially in the second game on Wednesday.

Maryland turned the ball over 17 times in the first game, but limited that number to just four in the second game. The two junior leaders in Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins led the way on the offensive end in both showdowns. Wiggins combined for 43 points, while Ayala combined for 38.

Let’s take to the film to evaluate Maryland’s offensive success

The good and the bad of Maryland’s offense

As mentioned earlier, head coach Mark Turgeon’s group did a much better job of taking care of the ball in the latter of the back-to-back. While many passes were lazy and telegraphed in the first game, Maryland was much crisper in game two when delivering dimes. This led to more opens shots and better shooting from the Terps.

These are two poor, lazy passes thrown into crowded space from the Terps. In these clips, both Ayala and Wiggins keep the ball above their head, instead of in a triple-threat position, making it obvious they are throwing a pass and the direction it is headed in. Both of these result in turnovers for the Terps.

Above are two more of the 17 turnovers Maryland committed. This is just carelessness with the ball from the Terps that limited their offense in the first contest, though they were able to overcome the turnover problem with their strong defense.

While turnovers derailed the offense at times in game one against the Cornhuskers, the Terps, particularly Ayala and Wiggins, still had success getting downhill and attacking the basket against a team that lacks rim protection.

These are two straight drives from around the top of the key, first from Ayala and then Wiggins. They simply blow by their defenders with an explosive first step, get deep in the paint and finish at the rim. Maryland spread the floor against Nebraska to open driving lanes for their guards to make plays exactly like these.

This is an example from the second game of crisper passes and offensive sets the Terps ran on their way to 79 points, the most Maryland has scored against a Big Ten opponent all season. Ayala gives the ball up to Morsell and then fakes like he is about to set an off-ball screen. Instead, he slips the screen with his defender sleeping and goes backdoor for an open layup.

In the second game, Nebraska was switching back and forth between a man-to-man and a zone defense. The zone defense was intended to limit penetration from the Terps, but Maryland knocked down threes from outside.

Here, Maryland runs effective zone offense by getting the ball to Hakim Hart in the high post. Once the ball enters the high post, defenses begin to scramble. Nebraska’s wing defender has to decide whether to guard Reese Mona in the short corner or Hamilton on the wing. He opts for Mona, leaving Hamilton open for a three ball, which he steps into and knocks down.

Wiggins and Ayala were the stars of both games

Wiggins has been more aggressive in recent games, and that continued in this back-to-back series. Over his last seven games, Wiggins has scored 17 points or more six times. Wiggins is finally emerging as the undisputed vocal point of this Maryland offense and that is noticeable on film. Turgeon is running more sets for him to come off down screens, receive on-ball screens or go to work in isolation situations.

Ayala has also emerged as a go-to scorer who is playing more off-ball than he was earlier in the year. On Wednesday night, he finished with a career-high 24 points on 4-for-9 shooting from long range.

Wiggins catches the ball on the left wing and receives a screen from Hamilton. This forces Nebraska to switch and Wiggins takes advantage, using a between-the-legs crossover to get to his spot, create space and pull up for a smooth elbow jumper.

Here, Wiggins drives downhill to the left, absorbs the contact and uses the glass for a tough finish.

This is another beautiful play from Wiggins, where he uses a spin move to get by his defender and finish at the rim.

Nebraska is in zone again here. Wiggins tries to penetrate and put pressure on Nebraska’s top two guards. They both commit to him, so Wiggins kicks out to Ayala for a deep three, which hits nothing but net.

Ayala drives baseline, comes to a two-foot jump stop, only for a help defender to meet him right outside the paint. Ayala does a brilliant job coming to a two-foot jump stop and using great foot work to step through the double team to go up for a left hand finish.