To beat Iowa, much has to go right. In Maryland's 74-68 triumph against the Hawkeyes on Thursday, one thing went as well as possible: The Terps put Iowa star forward Jarrod Uthoff through a defensive wringer and held him to a measly 9 points on an unsightly 2-of-13 shooting. On the defensive end, the story was a positive one.
But for Maryland's offense, much didn't work. The Terps shot just 45 percent from the field and 24 percent on 3-pointers. Melo Trimble didn't make a field goal in the second half, and only two Terps were better than 50 percent from the floor for the game: transfers Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter Jr. They each scored 17 points – no other Terrapin had more than 11 – and went a combined 13-of-22 from the field.
It was a nice revival for Sulaimon, who'd made two shots from the field in his last two games.
"I just shot my shots," Sulaimon said. "Basketball's a game of ups and downs. I've just got to be mentally tough. When your shots are there, at the end of the day, you've got to have confidence in yourself. My teammates always tell me they have confidence in me, so how can I not have confidence in myself?"
Looks pretty confident.
For his part, Carter missed both of his 3-point attempts, but he was dominantly pure in the post. He had Uthoff's number physically, beating him with a mix of nimble spin moves and aggressive driving floaters. When Iowa's lineups left smaller defenders on him, he beat them with a blend of size and quickness.
On the whole, Carter was his usual productive self. He paired 7 rebounds and 4 assists with his 17 points in what might've been his most rounded performance of an increasingly strong season. Carter has failed to reach double-digit scoring in three of 21 games, and he's failed to get at least 5 rebounds in just four. The 4 assists against Iowa were his most in Big Ten play and second most in any contest, and Maryland needed everything Carter could provide.
But maybe the seminal moment of Carter's night had nothing to do with his play. In fact, it was about his not playing.
Carter fouled out on a questionable call with 1:48 remaining. At the time, Maryland led by 2 points, and Carter was visibly furious. So was his coach, Mark Turgeon, and so were 17,000 Maryland fans – give or take – who filled Xfinity Center to its rafters.
After 12 more seconds, Turgeon called timeout, and Carter spoke up.
"I was trying to get everybody's focus off me and putting it on the win, said Carter. "We had to figure out 'What's the next play? Who's coming in? Who's going to make the next shot?'"
It turned out Turgeon had answers for those questions, and he diagrammed a clever play for Maryland.
Iowa center Adam Woodbury, the 7'1 anchor of the Hawkeyes' defense, had fouled out, and Turgeon sought to take advantage, up 2 points. The Hawkeyes had no one else taller than 6'9, leaving five-star freshman center Diamond Stone, who's 6'11, with a mismatch. The ball went to Layman, then to Stone, who was one-on-one with skinny forward Dom Uhl.
Just like Turgeon drew it up.
"They were small," Turgeon could tell. "I knew Diamond had an advantage. Jake's tall, and he's a good post feeder. And as soon as I saw the kid start to front him, I knew we had it. It's a play we don't run a lot, and there's two parts to that play. And that's the first part. It worked for us."
The building erupted. Maryland turned a defensive stop into a Jared Nickens transition layup, turning a 2-point edge to 6. The clock was ticking, and Maryland was finally in the clear.