COLLEGE PARK — Eighteen days ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Maryland men’s basketball endured its worst loss of the season at the hands of Hunter Dickinson and the Wolverines.
Maryland returned the favor Thursday night, earning a 64-58 win at Xfinity Center.
The Terps (12-6, 3-4 Big Ten) were led by graduate transfer guard Jahmir Young, who finished with 26 points on 9-for-19 shooting. Senior guard Hakim Hart added 10 points while senior forward Donta Scott totaled nine points and eight rebounds for Maryland, which had lost five straight and nine of its past 10 games against the Wolverines.
This time, Michigan couldn’t stop Maryland from attacking the basket, as the Terps outscored the Wolverines 42-22 in the paint.
“We are competitors at the end of the day,” Young said. “They beat us by 35 [points] up there. We had to make sure we threw the first punch.”
In previous meetings against Michigan (10-8, 4-3), the Terps failed to contain Dickinson. The former DeMatha star averaged 17.6 points and eight rebounds while shooting 75.5% from the field in five games against a Maryland team he strongly believes disrespected him in the recruiting process when he was in high school. Although Dickinson recorded 19 points and 10 rebounds Thursday, the Terps did a solid job preventing the 7-foot-1 big man from taking over the game.
“[Dickinson] had a great game,” Young said about his former DeMatha teammate. “He hit a couple of [3-pointers], which got him going. But I feel like we did an overall good job on the defensive side.”
Maryland played well defensively throughout the night, forcing 12 turnovers while recording seven steals. In the second half, it held Michigan to 10-for-29 shooting from the field and 2-for-15 from the 3-point line.
“[Maryland] would press then they would go back in their zone,” Wolverines coach Juwan Howard said. “In the second half, we became a little bit more stagnant, and we didn’t attack the zone like we did in the first half.”
Coach Kevin Willard’s philosophy against the Wolverines was to make shots early. In the previous matchup, a 81-46 loss on Jan. 1, the Terps didn’t make a single basket in the first six minutes as they fell into a 17-0 deficit and never recovered.
On Thursday, Maryland’s shots fell early. Graduate transfer guard Don Carey grabbed an offensive rebound then dribbled to the corner, where he knocked down a 3-pointer. Young converted a floater over Dickinson before Hart attacked the rim for a basket. All of sudden, the Terps were up 7-2 with 16:06 left in the first half.
“I told the team if we get five points in the first minutes, we would win the game,” Willard said.
Led by Young, the Terps stretched their lead to 25-15 with seven minutes left. The Charlotte transfer scored 11 points in the half, as the Wolverines couldn’t prevent him from getting to the rim.
“I think [Young] is playing as good as any player in the country right now,” Willard said. “I think he has gotten comfortable with the length and size he has to go against every night.”
Maryland made a strong effort scoring inside the paint, as freshman big man Caelum Swanton-Rodger scored a layup past Dickinson. Later in the half, Swanton-Rodger caught a pass from Hart before delivering a powerful two-handed dunk over Dickinson to give the Terps a 30-20 advantage with 4:34 to go.
“Coach would’ve cussed him out if he didn’t dunk it,” Young said.
Said Swanton-Rodger: “I’ve always kind of had the mindset that whenever I get the ball, try to dunk it. I didn’t think he was going to jump at first, but he did.”
The Terps outscored Michigan 24-8 in the paint in the first half.
However, Maryland could only contain the Wolverines for so long. Michigan took advantage of the Terps’ zone defense by knocking down five 3-pointers in the final six minutes of the half. Dickinson began to heat up, as he blew past Swanton-Rodger for a two-handed jam before ending the half by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to cut Maryland’s lead to 34-32. Dickinson totaled 10 points in the half, while guard Jett Howard scored 11 of his 13 points.
Maryland managed to maintain its spirited effort in the second half. Young casually drove to the basket for a layup, then stripped the ball from Howard before racing down the floor and dumping a pass a trailing Scott for a two-handed slam that pushed the Terps’ lead to six.
“Maryland was the most aggressive team,” Juwan Howard said.
Michigan was able to tie the game at 44, but as the Wolverines searched for their first lead since the 19:25 mark of the first half, they couldn’t find an answer. Hart buried an outside shot from the top of the key to put the Terps back on top.
Michigan’s defense continued to allow Maryland to get easy shots from inside. Scott flew to the rim for a putback dunk, junior guard Ian Martinez (six points) attacked the basket for a bucket and Young scored another layup off the dribble to stretch the lead to 55-49 with seven minutes to go.
Maryland’s win over the Wolverines continued its dominance at home, as the Terps are 9-1 inside Xfinity Center this season. With three of their next four games in College Park, Willard thinks the team is in a good spot moving forward.
“We are right where we want to be,” Willard said.
Maryland at No. 3 Purdue
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Radio: 105.7 FM