Maryland basketball allowed seven three-pointers in the opening 12 minutes of its game against Minnesota, a team that made less than seven threes in a game on 17 occasions this season.
The Terps really struggled to bounce back after a damaging home loss to Wisconsin, going down in embarrassing style to a Minnesota team which was previously winless in Big Ten play.
Maryland was without center Diamond Stone and has been without Dion Wiley all season, but it shouldn't have mattered for an overwhelmingly more talented roster, which probably started better players at all five positions against Minnesota.
A lot of things went wrong on the offensive end for the Terps – many of which stemmed from Melo Trimble's poor play – but their perimeter defense wasn't too hot either, as the Gophers dropped in 40 points in the first half.
Twenty-one of those points came from the 3-point arc, a place Minnesota has fired at the third-worst clip in the league at 31.1 percent.
After reviewing where and how the Gophers got their shots off, it's easy to see why they were able to go 7-of-13 on their first-half attempts, putting Maryland in what turned out to be too deep a hole to overcome.
A good amount of Division I players can hit from a few steps behind the 3-point line when they're this wide open. This shot was at the same difficulty level as it was in warm-ups for Dupree McBrayer, who's just 8-of-41 on the year.
How did the 19.5 percent deep-ball shooter get this one off?
Really easily. McBrayer stayed wide around the arc while Rasheed Sulaimon went to double in the post and Trimble went to defend Joey King. Not sure why Damonte Dodd – a very good 1-on-1 post defender – would need help from 6'5 Sulaimon in the post, but it was the unnecessary aid that gave the poor shooter enough room to find his stroke.
Minnesota got the same result on their next trip, as nobody was even close to King.
Trimble got stuffed at the hoop, and the Gophers ran straight lines that somehow confused the Terps. Sulaimon and Robert Carter didn't communicate with the 4-on-3 coming down the floor and both went to defend the man with the ball, Nate Mason. Carter recovered too late, and the Terps allowed a pair of threes in less than 30 seconds to a team that makes just six per game.
King again. The Gophers' only great 3-point shooter, at 41 percent on the season, kept getting open looks.
More atypical miscommunication went on here, especially from two of the Terps' strongest defenders in Jake Layman and Sulaimon. A simple ball screen got the desired switch with Sulaimon on King, but Mason couldn't feed the post. Instead he made a dribble move around Layman, and Sulaimon again went to double. Nobody was close even as Trimble tried to salvage the play while King drained his second three.
Joey King really killed the Terps, capitalizing on defensive mistakes.
Jared Nickens is lucky he didn't break the cardinal rule of basketball – don't foul the 3-point shooter. Still, he jumped out on the shot – a dumb decision considering the small percentage of 3-point shots that actually get blocked – and King was able to step away and get a wide-open look. Again.
Even 17.5 percent 3-point shooters like Kevin Dorsey can make uncontested shots. You'd figure after four makes there'd be some sort of emphasis on this.
There was too much shifting downwards in a small Maryland lineup that showed Varun Ram, Jaylen Brantley and Sulaimon at the same time. Layman slipped down off the dribble – probably knowing he had vertically challenged teammates surrounding him– and gave up an open look. It's hard to blame him though, as he looked up and saw Ram defending 6'9 King in the post. Layman and Ram switching on the screen was less than ideal, but this is really a lineup issue more than anything. Points were bound to be scored no matter what here.
Less than 10 minutes into the game and Minnesota met its typical game total for 3-pointers made, and did so at a much higher than average percentage. This next attempt isn't any particular player's fault, though.
Ram is a good defender, but it's hard to expect anyone four or more inches shorter than their matchup to be able to affect a taller shooter's rhythm. Ram loses a step on the 6'1 Mason and can't get a hand in the way of his shot. That's about all that can be said here.
That makes six of the seven makes poorly contended ones, as Maryland really was its own worst enemy.
All it took was two basic on-ball screens for Terps defenders to get lost on this one. Communication simply solves the issue of two guys defending one, and clearly that was the problem here. Nickens and Carter both follow King, and Mason gets to launch at his own pace.
The Terps were much improved defensively in the second half, allowing just one 3-point make, but It was another ugly outing for Maryland, and consecutive losses will get skeptics wondering if this team is really championship-caliber.
The Terps have four more regular season games and a conference tournament before judgment day.