xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Maryland men’s basketball can’t contain Keegan Murray, nation’s leading scorer, in 80-75 loss to Iowa

Maryland men’s basketball’s first true road test of the season against Iowa Monday night was a back-and-forth spectacle that epitomized Big Ten Conference play.

But the Terps ran out of gas midway through the second half and had a hard time containing the nation’s leading scorer Keegan Murray in an 80-75 loss to the Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Advertisement

Murray was a picture of consistency, totaling 35 points on 14-for-21 from the floor while grabbing eight rebounds to improve his 23.7 points per game average. On the other hand, senior guard Eric Ayala had 19 points and six rebounds but the Terps couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch after Iowa went on a 17-5 second-half run to turn a 53-51 deficit into a 68-58 lead with 5:22 left that it never relinquished.

“Keegan Murray is a first-round draft pick,” Maryland interim coach Danny Manning said. “He’s a total package and as a basketball fan, I appreciate what he does out there on the court.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

Graduate transfer guard Fatts Russell tallied 16 points, four rebounds and four assists while junior forward Qudus Wahab added 12 points and seven rebounds for Maryland (8-5, 0-2 Big Ten). Juniors Donta Scott and Hakim Hart each scored 11 points.

Murray was hot from the start. The 6-foot-8 sophomore forward scored nine of the Hawkeyes’ 18 points to help them jump out to a double-digit lead with 14:40 remaining in the first half.

Murray was taking advantage of Maryland’s lackluster defense while showcasing his offensive package. He was driving to the basket in transition, knocking down outside shots and fadeaway jumpers to keep the Terps on their heels.

After Murray nailed a wide-open 3-pointer, he hit a turnaround jumper over Maryland freshman Julian Reese, extending Iowa’s lead to 24-12 with 11:46 to go in the first half.

Advertisement

“[Iowa] came out early in transition and got some easy baskets,” Ayala said. “It kind of woke us up a bit. We can’t come out lackadaisical like that, especially against a team that dynamic in transition.”

Murray eventually went to the bench and the Terps took advantage. Maryland switched to a zone defense and went on a commanding 11-0 run to cut the deficit to one.

“[Iowa] got comfortable in their rhythm and I wanted to throw a changeup at them,” Manning said. “We gave ourselves some life. We created some energy from that.”

During a stretch in which Maryland made six consecutive shots, Russell was in attack mode. After he drove to the basket for a layup, Russell nailed a 3-pointer a few possessions later to give the Terps a 33-30 lead with six minutes left in the first.

Maryland’s defense continued to be problematic for Iowa, as Murray was held scoreless during the final seven minutes while the Hawkeyes went 1-for-8 from the floor to close out the first half. The Terps took a 40-36 advantage into intermission.

Intensity mounted at the start of the second half with both teams trading baskets. Murray once again found the hot hand when he scored nine points in the first three minutes. With the shot clock winding down, he buried a deep 3-pointer to even the score at 47.

Russell stayed aggressive, as he hit a mid-range jumper then tossed an alley-oop to Wahab to give Maryland a 51-49 lead with 14:40 remaining in regulation.

Maryland forward Donta Scott, left, drives to the basket past Iowa forward Keegan Murray, right, during the first half Monday in Iowa City, Iowa.
Maryland forward Donta Scott, left, drives to the basket past Iowa forward Keegan Murray, right, during the first half Monday in Iowa City, Iowa. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Iowa finally broke through soon after. Murray nailed his fourth of five 3-pointers and then the Hawkeyes generated a turnover on the other end, which led to a fastbreak layup from guard Tony Perkins.

“Going into any game, you put together your scouting report, things that you have to be OK with giving up to a certain extent because you’re not going to take away everything,” Manning said. “For us, it was if [Murray] is shooting threes, let’s make sure we contest it. He knocked down five of them.”

Maryland trailed by four points when Ayala buried a deep 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 59-58 with 9:10 left, only for the Terps offense to suddenly go cold again. Iowa went on a 7-0 run.

Down 70-63 and in dire need of a spark with 2:42 remaining, Ayala was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer. Ayala made all three free throws, trimming the deficit to three.

Ayala had a chance to cut Iowa’s lead down to one point, but his stepback 3-pointer from the corner bounced off the rim and Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon made a pair of free throws to give the Hawkeyes a 72-66 lead with 2:11 left.

Ayala dribbled down the court and nailed a pull-up 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining to cut Iowa’s lead to 77-75. After Bohannon went 1-for-2 from the line, Ayala was fouled, missed the first free throw then didn’t hit the rim on the second, a purposeful miss but a violation nonetheless to put the stamp on the Terps’ first loss of the new year.

“No moral victories, but there’s some areas where we feel like if we get better, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win any game that we play,” Manning said.

MARYLAND@ILLINOIS

Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network Radio: 105.7 FM

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement