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Maryland women’s basketball vs. Michigan State preview: Terps hit the road again, visit East Lansing

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The No. 3 Terps can move to 25-1.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan State vs Maryland Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland women’s basketball team looks to remain unbeaten in conference play Sunday when it takes on Michigan State in East Lansing.

The Terps are coming off a somehow-uninspiring 25-point home win over Illinois Thursday, but their last road game Sunday was an impressive 92-56 victory at Indiana. Maryland’s percentages went down from one game to the next while the turnovers rose, but perhaps the most notable similarity lies in how well the Terps shut down their opponent’s top scoring guard. Indiana’s Tyra Buss went 2-of-17 from the floor and scored just seven points Sunday, while Illinois’ Brandi Beasley notched 10 on 3-of-19 shooting.

It won’t be easy to keep that trend going against Michigan State. Spartans guard Tori Jankoska has become one of the premier players in the conference, filling the shoes of Aerial Powers, who entered the WNBA Draft last year. Jankoska’s averaging 22 points per game, and any hopes the Spartans have of pulling this upset off revolve around her.

Michigan State is the only Big Ten team to knock off Ohio State, doing so at home on Jan. 10. The Spartans are 9-2 at home. They’re coming off an overtime loss Thursday at Iowa.

Sunday’s game tips off at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Michigan State Spartans (16-8, 6-5 Big Ten)

2015-16 record: 25-9, 13-4

Head coach: Amaka Agugua has filled in during Suzy Merchant’s medical leave of absence, and all things considered, she’s handled things well. Merchant is in her 10th season, but Agugua had over three years in East Lansing as an assistant before taking over.

Players to know

Tori Jankoska, senior, guard, 5’8, No. 1. The aforementioned star averages 22 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals. Jankoska leads the Big Ten with 3.5 made threes per game and a 90.4 percent clip from the foul line. The senior dropped 42 against Ohio State and has eclipsed 30 on three other occasions this season. She’s the leading scorer in Michigan State history, entering Sunday six points shy of 2,000 for her career.

Taya Reimer, senior, forward, 6’4, No. 32. The grad student transferred to the Spartans from Notre Dame, where she started 35 games in 2014-15 before suffering a season-ending injury five games into last season. Reimer is averaging 9.5 points and 5.7 boards per game this year and is the team’s main low-post presence.

Branndais Agee, redshirt senior, guard, 5’11, No. 10. Another veteran starter, Agee puts up 8.1 points and 7.1 rebounds a night. She had a five-game streak of scoring in double figures snapped against Iowa, but she’s the team’s third-leading scorer overall.

Taryn McCutcheon, freshman, guard, 5’5, No. 4. McCutcheon was the No. 69 overall prospect in the 2016 class, and she’s averaging 7.5 points and 5.1 assists per game this year.

Strength

Rebounding. Jankoska and Agee, both guards, are the team’s two leading rebounders, although Reimer isn’t far behind. Overall, the Spartans have a plus-7.9 rebounding margin in conference play, and they lead the Big Ten in defensive rebounding percentage (.743).

Weakness

Turnovers. Michigan State’s minus-2.3 turnover margin is third-worst in the Big Ten, and the Spartans average nearly 17 giveaways per game.

Prediction

Maryland wins, 81-71.