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Terps

Three takeaways from Maryland men’s basketball’s 64-50 loss to Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — With a 64-50 defeat to Rutgers on Thursday night, Maryland men’s basketball has lost five of its last seven games.

From the Terps’ struggles against Power Five conference opponents to senior forward Donta Scott’s decline in production, here are three takeaways from Maryland’s fifth loss of the season.

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Struggles continue vs. Power Five

What started as an inspiring season might be on the verge of falling into quicksand. Maryland (10-5, 1-3 Big Ten) has lost five straight games against Power Five opponents, failing to even be competitive against some of the top programs in the nation.

Generating consistent offense has been one of Maryland’s biggest problems during the streak. The Terps have averaged 53.6 points while scoring a combined 96 points against Michigan and Rutgers. Junior guard Jahari Long’s 3-pointer with 1:08 to play against the Scarlet Knights prevented Maryland from scoring less than 50 points in consecutive games for the first time since late in the 1981-82 season.

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First-half shooting woes and an inability to control the ball are the main issues. Maryland has averaged 19.6 points and shot 25% (33-of-132) from the field in the first half while turning the ball over at an alarming rate. After committing 20 turnovers against Rutgers, the Terps are averaging 15 turnovers in their five losses.

Maryland has tried to shoot itself out of its slump, but to no avail. The Terps have shot 20.6% from 3-point range in the first half during the streak, including a 3-for-14 performance against Rutgers. They’ve also been plagued by long scoring droughts, including one that lasted more than eight minutes Thursday night.

Maryland guard Hakim Hart (13) looks to pass the ball around Rutgers guard Paul Mulcahy, left, during the first half of Thursday night's game in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Donta Scott searching for shot

Scott’s production has been trending in the wrong direction.

After averaging 15.4 points per game during the Terps’ 8-0 start, the senior forward has averaged just 8.5 points in the last seven games. Scott has scored less than 10 points in five of the last seven contests, including a six-point performance against Rutgers.

In November, Scott appeared to have taken his game to another level. He averaged 22 points in four games, including a 25-point performance against Saint Louis and a 24-point outburst against Miami.

However, Scott has struggled shooting from long range during this recent slump. The senior has not hit a 3-pointer in three straight games, going 0-for-9. Since Scott went 3-for-6 from 3-point range against Louisville in November, the Philadelphia native has gone 6-for-39 in the past eight games.

The search for the alpha

Earlier this week, first-year coach Kevin Willard said Maryland is still searching for its alpha. Willard hasn’t found a player who can take over games and rally the team whenever it falls into large deficits.

“We get off to a shaky start, and then they all try to correct it,” Willard said. “We try to do things and [get] into a bad rhythm. We don’t have that alpha that [calms everyone down].”

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Willard hopes graduate transfer Jahmir Young, who leads the team in scoring (13.9 points per game), can fill that role. At the same time, Willard understands Young is still adjusting to a higher level of competition after playing at Charlotte for three seasons.

“I think he is starting to understand that,” Willard said. “He has played great all year for us, but he’s still trying to figure out whether he should take over or Donta.”

Scott and senior guard Hakim Hart haven’t taken on that alpha role the previous three seasons playing alongside stars like Anthony Cowan Jr., Jalen Smith and Eric Ayala.

“We never went through those struggles [early in the season],” Willard said. “Now that we’re getting slapped around a little, these things are glaring.”

No. 24 Ohio State at Maryland

Sunday, 1 p.m.

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TV: ESPN

Radio: 105.7 FM


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