No. 8 Maryland edged No. 3 Iowa, 74-68, at Xfinity Center on Thursday night, in the first top-10 battle in men's basketball in the arena's history. The game lived up to its considerable hype.
The Terps needed a strong closing act to seal the win. Coming out of a timeout with 1:34 left in regulation, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon drew up an inbounds play that led to a Diamond Stone dunk. Then a defensive stop led to a Jared Nickens transition off a Jake Layman assist, and the Terps extended a tight 2-point lead to 6. From there, they held on in front of a boisterous home crowd.
Layman played a rugged but impressive game, scoring 11 points on 15 shots but limiting Iowa star Jarrod Uthoff to 9 points on egregious 2-of-13 shooting. Veterans Robert Carter Jr. and Rasheed Sulaimon had 17 points each, while Diamond Stone had 9 in his first game back in the starting lineup for weeks.
Maryland moved to 18-3 on the season and 7-2 in the Big Ten. The Terps are very much back within striking distance for the league's regular season crown, now having handed league-unbeaten Iowa its first loss. Maryland will keep that tiebreaker, as the teams can't play again until the Big Ten Tournament in March.
The first half opened in a shootout, with 19 points scored between the two teams in the game's opening four minutes. Melo Trimble got things going, hitting his first 3-point attempt of the night, and driving and finding Robert Carter Jr., under the rim. Trimble contributed in all ways as usual, scoring 6 points, 3 assists and made a concerted effort on the boards, boxing strong for 4 rebounds. He also had a pair of takeaways on the defensive end.
Diamond Stone, in his first intentional start in Big Ten play, struggled early on both ends, regressing back to his old form, picking up an early foul, and allowing Adam Woodbury to score five easy points. Damonte Dodd replaced him a few minutes in, as the big men essentially flipped first half roles. Stone played more of his post-Penn State breakout type of basketball, as he and Sulaimon found nice chemistry for two dunks in his first stint off the bench.
Sulaimon broke out of his 2-of-15 shooting slump, hitting four of his first six for 11 points to lead the Terps' offense early on. He also dished out 4 assists as the real spark plug in Maryland's dynamic offense. He was joined by Carter and Layman who each had 9 first half points, and Carter also had 3 assists.
Maryland's defense let up at times, but was consistent in its efforts against potential National Player of the Year Jarrod Uthoff, who scored just 3 points on 0-5 shooting for the first half. His shots weren't missing on his own accord; they were well-defended. The Hawkeyes ended the first half with a well-balanced scoring attack led by Dom Uhl and Adam Woodbury, who scored 7 apiece. The Hawkeyes kept pace with the Terps as they shot 50 percent from the field to Maryland's 55, to trail just 6 points as the team's retreated to the locker room neck-and-neck with a 41-35 score
The second half leaned in the Hawkeyes' direction, as they went on a 5-0 run in the opening minutes, and the Terrapins didn't convert on a field goal attempt until the 14:12 mark. Maryland opened 1 of 9 from the field, scoring just 6 points in 8 minutes. Ultimately, Maryland needed to be good at the foul line late, and it was, just enough.
Behind Sulaimon and Carter, Maryland's offense kicked into gear for the closing minutes, despite its leading scorer, Trimble, going scoreless until foul shots in the final 20 seconds.
Uthoff continued to not be himself all night, but Iowa charged back to an even game after trailing by 6 points at the half. The teams stayed within a possession or two as the game wound down, but Maryland's 4-point spurt out of the late timeout gave the Terps the separation that ultimately pushed them over the top.
3 things to know
1. Sulaimon broke out of his slump, and Maryland's offense looked great because of it. Sulaimon's poor shooting performance and inability to do his usual damage on the offense end over the past two games was a big reason Maryland's looked as poorly as it did. Against Northwestern and Michigan State combined he scored just 10 points and added 5 assists. Against Iowa, he had 17 and 5.
2. Maryland kept Jarrod Uthoff in check. Uthoff didn't make his first attempt from the field until the 18:15 mark of the second half. The combination of Carter and Layman proved efficient in bothering his shot and allowed him to score just 9 points on the game.
3. The building was jumping. A fun night for basketball in College Park, really. The crowd was nuts for most of the game and made Iowa feel like a longtime rival, even though it very much is not.