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Three takeaways from Maryland men’s basketball’s 80-75 loss to Iowa

Maryland men’s basketball watched its three-game winning streak come to an end after falling to Iowa 80-75 Monday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

From lacking bench production to defensive adjustments, here are three takeaways from the Terps’ second loss in Big Ten Conference play.

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Defensive adjustment sparked the first-half comeback.

The Terps’ defensive effort at the start of the game was lackadaisical. Iowa, the second-best scoring offense in the country (87.4 points per game), was getting out in transition and attacking the rim with ease. A lot of that had to do with Iowa forward and the nation’s leading scorer Keegan Murray, who finished with 35 points, increasing his average to 24.2 points per game.

The Terps trailed 24-12 with 11:46 remaining in the first half when interim coach Danny Manning thought his team needed a different look, so he switched to a zone defense that took the Hawkeyes out of rhythm.

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The Terps went on a 21-6 run while Murray was limited to one basket in the final nine minutes of the first half, and they took a 40-36 lead into halftime.

“We created some energy from that because we were able to feed off the stops and go down and put pressure on them,” Manning said. “I definitely think it was something that helped us early in the ballgame.”

Unfortunately for the Terps, they couldn’t contain Murray much longer and Iowa was able to use a 17-5 second-half run to turn a two-point deficit into a 68-58 lead and never looked back.

Bench production has been lacking.

Heading into the season, Maryland received praise for its depth. Before former coach Mark Turgeon left the program, he mentioned how the Terps were a deep team with experience, and they would use that to their advantage.

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Maryland is 13 games into the season, and the bench has been inconsistent at best and has forced the starting lineup to carry the majority of the offensive workload. In the loss to Iowa, the Terps’ bench combined to score six points.

The Terps have averaged 7.6 bench points in the last five games. Freshman forward Julian Reese has shown promise this season, but him being the team’s best bench scorer at 6.8 points per game isn’t going to be enough as the team gets deeper into its Big Ten schedule.

Sophomore guard Ian Martinez is averaging 3.2 points per game, while graduate student Xavier Green is averaging 1.2 points per game in 15.2 minutes of play.

Maryland guard Eric Ayala, shooting over Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon, scored a team-high 19 points during Monday's 80-75 loss.
Maryland guard Eric Ayala, shooting over Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon, scored a team-high 19 points during Monday's 80-75 loss. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Eric Ayala has the hot hand.

Maybe it’s the shooting sleeve that has made Ayala turn the corner offensively. In the last four games, the senior guard has averaged 20 points per game while shooting 50.2% from the floor and 45.8% from the 3-point line.

Even though Maryland lost, Ayala was solid, finishing with 19 points and six rebounds while shooting 5-for-9 from beyond the arc against Iowa. He scored 12 points in the second half and made a pull-up 3-pointer to cut the deficit to two points with 10 seconds remaining.

Ayala finished with an offensive rating of 150, marking the third time in the last four games he posted an offensive rating of 121 or higher, according to KenPom.

Before last night, Manning said Ayala has done a better job shooting the ball but more importantly getting to the free-throw line, where he’s attempted 19 shots over his last two outings against Iowa and Brown.

MARYLAND@ILLINOIS

Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network Radio: 105.7 FM

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