Maryland men’s basketball ended the regular season with a 77-67 loss to Michigan State Sunday afternoon. From the Terps settling for too many 3-pointers in the first half to defensive adjustments during their second-half surge, here are three takeaways from their loss at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan.
Maryland (15-16, 7-13 Big Ten) couldn’t buy a bucket early, missing its first 14 field goal attempts while falling into an 18-1 hole. Nothing was working for the Terps offensively in the first half, so they settled for shots beyond the arc. A lot of them.
Maryland, which is 12th in the Big Ten Conference in 3-point percentage (32.7%), went 1-for-15 in the first half and missed 13 consecutive attempts before graduate transfer Fatts Russell drained an outside shot with 2:10 left in the half.
Interim coach Danny Manning said after the game that his team should’ve driven to the rim more, though Maryland was outscored 20-10 in the paint during the first half.
“When you are playing on the road … sometimes the best shot you can get is on the drive,” Manning said.
With help from senior guard Eric Ayala, who finished with 19 points, the Terps turned things around in the second, outscoring the Spartans 41-31 while scoring 16 points in the paint and shooting 7-for-14 from deep. But Maryland’s first-half shooting woes proved too costly in the end.
Key defensive adjustments
After trailing by as many as 22 points in the first half, Maryland went on a 19-4 run in the second to make it a three-point game with less than eight minutes left. Even though Ayala’s hot shooting led the charge, the Terps’ aggressiveness on defense was another factor.
“I thought the guys played with more grit, determination and toughness to find a way to come up with some stops and be a lot more disruptive than we were in the first half,” Manning said.
Maryland had seven steals in the second half, and the Spartans committed five turnovers in less than five minutes. The Terps scored 17 points off turnovers in the second half and got out in transition, keeping Michigan State off balance.
Russell was a pest defensively in the second half with three steals. With 8:03 left, the Rhode Island transfer stole the ball from Michigan State’s Malik Hall before throwing an alley-oop to junior Hakim Hart that cut the deficit to 61-58.
“We got a chance to get out in transition and score the basketball, which is always something you want to do against a team that is so good defensively like Michigan State,” Manning said. “Those deflections and steals gave us that opportunity.”
A blessing in disguise?
Maryland’s loss to the Spartans puts additional pressure on the team to avoid its first losing season in 29 years. However, Sunday could also be seen as a blessing in disguise.
A Terps win would’ve meant they’d face Michigan in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament instead of the Spartans. Maryland has lost six of the last seven meetings with the Wolverines, including an 83-64 defeat in January.
Even though Maryland also lost both games to Michigan State, it has shown it can compete with the Spartans with a two-point loss last month and Sunday’s 10-point defeat, despite a dreadful start.
When told the Terps would face Michigan State again on Thursday, Manning said, “I’m looking forward to it.”
“You got a good feel for them,” he added. “Not a lot of prep in regards to showing a lot of film because we’ve been doing that all week. We’ll go back and break down this game and see what new sets they ran. We’ll talk about not putting ourselves in a hole. We’ll talk about the things that we did well that gave us a chance to get back into the ballgame.”
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT
MARYLAND VS. MICHIGAN STATE
at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network Radio: 105.7 FM