Here’s what you need to know about the No. 9 Maryland men’s basketball team’s game vs. Minnesota on Wednesday:
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM
Records: Maryland (22-5, 12-4 Big Ten) vs. Minnesota (13-13, 7-9)
Line: Minnesota by 1 (as of Wednesday morning)
What to watch
1. How do Maryland’s stars respond?
In Sunday’s 79-72 loss to Ohio State, Maryland’s best players, senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. and sophomore forward Jalen Smith had arguably their worst games of the season. Cowan scored 10 points on 1-for-4 shooting and fouled out for the first time in over a year.
“I didn’t expect to get the [technical foul] for it. I didn’t expect to foul out because of that,” Cowan said Tuesday, speaking for the first time on the incident that got him disqualified with under four minutes left in Sunday’s game. “That’s the time in the game where I’m comfortable. ... That’s when I really get it going, I would say.”
Also limited by foul trouble, Smith’s double double streak ended with him recording just eight points and seven rebounds. Coach Mark Turgeon said he thought Smith “lost a little confidence throughout the game” but Turgeon added he would respond well against Minnesota.
The Terps depend on these two in so many aspects outside of scoring, with Cowan providing one of the team’s few options as a facilitator and Smith contributing as a rebounder and versatile defender. Whether Turgeon attempts to boost their confidence with early touches will be interesting to watch.
2. Is foul trouble an issue again?
Foul trouble not only hurt Smith and Cowan. Freshman forward Donta Scott also racked up early fouls and had his minutes drop on Sunday. With Turgeon’s top two big men in foul trouble, freshman center Chol Marial played 11 “terrific” minutes, Turgeon said, often as the only big in the lineup.
Turgeon was critical of the officials after Sunday’s game, saying he thought Ohio State forward Kaleb Wesson was allowed to be a “bully” against Smith in the post.
“It was really like the big brother picking on the little brother picking and the parents were just letting them do it,” Turgeon said Tuesday. “It’ll toughen us up, make us better ... hopefully the parents we’ll be in the room on Wednesday night.”
3. Do Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala carry over their strong efforts?
One of the bright spots from Sunday’s loss was the emergence of sophomore guards Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala, who stepped up with Smith and Cowan struggling. Ayala scored 16 points and Wiggins recorded a career-high 20 points, including a few big shots that kept Maryland in the game after Cowan fouled out.
It was one of the few moments this season where Ayala and Wiggins, who both went through shooting struggles earlier in the year, provided solid contributions on the same night.
“I was happy for [Wiggins],” Turgeon said. "He made six [3-pointers], made some big shots, made some tough shots. We need him to be aggressive. We need him to be confident.
“Ayala is starting to play. That takes pressure off Anthony and [Smith]. Minnesota’s probably sitting there saying, ‘Wow, that’s a lot more to guard,’ a lot more to prepare for. So that’s good. And then Donta’s making some 3′s and playing well. It just makes us a better team and much harder to guard.”