Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon talks about his team needing to play better defense against Indiana.
Nearly three weeks ago, Maryland forward Jake Layman stood steely-eyed outside the visiting dressing room at Assembly Hall after the Terps were buried in the second half by Indiana's hot shooting. The normally laid-back junior was seething.
Layman was talking about keeping the memory of the rowdy sellout crowd and what was then Maryland's worst defeat in the team's collective mind "for a long time." While that 89-70 loss has been replaced twice with new season low points, Layman hasn't forgotten what transpired.
"It's not really the score of the game that sticks, just the atmosphere and what that felt like," Layman said Tuesday. "We don't want that to happen again."
Coming off their third straight blowout defeat on the road — the latest a 71-55 loss Sunday at Iowa — No. 19 Maryland (19-5, 7-4 Big Ten Conference) will try to turn the tables on Indiana (17-4, 7-4) Wednesday night at Xfinity Center.
Considering how the Terps have struggled since the first game against Indiana — even in the way they have come out slow at home before winning close games over Big Ten bottom-feeders Rutgers, Northwestern and Penn State — that does't look like it'll be easy.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon has acknowledged that his team has looked tight at home against teams it was expected to beat, as if the Terps were playing to protect their ranking or their standing in the Big Ten (currently in a four-way tie for second) or possible seeding in the NCAA tournament.
Yet Maryland is one of three Big Ten teams to have not lost a conference game at home. (Wisconsin and Indiana are the others).
"In college basketball, it's hard to win on the road, not just in our league," senior forward Jon Graham said. "You see in other conferences, good teams are having a hard time on the road. At the same time, you want to protect your home court. Your job is try to win every game you can at home."
Asked how difficult it will be to get back to how his team was playing at home against Michigan State and Minnesota earlier in the season, Turgeon said, "That's a fine line, trying to get there. We continue to try to get there. I think when the game's on the line, we play the right way and do what we have to do.
"If the building's electric, that helps. [Against] Michigan State, the crowd was electric. I think if we can have that from tip to the end, [the fans] make a big difference in it. We're a good home team. I think we've lost one home game to Virginia, and they're pretty good. The bottom line is that you win. Would you like to win by all double figures? Yeah, you would, but it's not going to happen that way."
Layman believes it comes down to hitting shots, just as the Hoosiers did on their home court, when junior guard Yogi Ferrell made seven of eight 3-point attempts against the Terps and Indiana shot 60 percent overall, turning a close game at halftime into a rout.
"I think we just weren't ready for their hot shooting in that game. That's really the only difference," Layman said. "Some guys that normally don't make shots for them were hitting everything. We'll be ready for that this game."
Since shooting 51 percent against Indiana, including 10 of 20 on 3-pointers, Maryland has gone cold with the exception of the Penn State game. The Terps shot 40.7 percent against Northwestern, 30.5 percent at Ohio State and 36.5 percent at Iowa, including six of 25 in the first half.
"They are a product of nights when they don't shoot the ball as well," Indiana coach Tom Crean said of Maryland's recent losses. "We know what they're capable of at home, how they play at home."
Turgeon attributes the team's recent slip to "a tough schedule" and tough environments the Terps have played in on the road.
"I think Iowa is an NCAA tournament team, Ohio State and Indiana are all NCAA tournament teams that are pretty fired up to play us," he said. "Their buildings are pretty excited when they're there because we're ranked and we haven't handled it.
"In those games, I think we've let our offense affect our defense when we couldn't get going in those games, and it kind of steamrolled. I don't think we've lost any confidence. I think we're a very confident team. We're proud of what we've done at this point. We like where we are."
In past seasons, the Terps failed to win marquee matchups or even top-50 matchups in the non-conference, putting all the pressure on what they did in league play. One of the reasons why Maryland hasn't dropped out of the national rankings is that its resume is still stronger than most teams.
Turgeon said Tuesday that he doesn't talk to the Terps about the NCAA tournament — it would be the program's first trip in five seasons — "but we know we have some good wins on our resume.
"We know we're not in the NCAA tournament yet," he continued. "We also know that."
NOTE: As a way to celebrate Maryland's victory over Indiana in the 2002 NCAA championship game, fans coming to Wednesday's game are encouraged to wear throwback jerseys from that era. Some concession stand prices will be rolled back to what they were in 2002, an athletic department spokesperson said. As of Tuesday, there were still about 1,500 tickets remaining.