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Terps

Maryland men’s basketball surges past Wisconsin, 73-55, for fifth straight home victory

COLLEGE PARK — To better understand why Xfinity Center has been a fortress of success for Maryland men’s basketball, look at the second half of Wednesday night’s 73-55 win over Wisconsin.

Whether it came from the wooden floor or the rambunctious cheers from the student section, there was some magic flowing within the arena that allowed the Terps to play one of their best stretches of the season.

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Leading 32-28, Maryland (13-7, 4-5 Big Ten) opened the second half shooting 8-for-8 from the field, part of a 17-8 run that helped the Terps take a commanding 49-36 lead. Sophomore forward Julian Reese couldn’t be denied, scoring six points during that stretch. Veterans Jahmir Young, Hakim Hart and Donta Scott constantly attacked the basket, which has been a formula for success of late as the team struggles shooting from deep.

When Hart crossed up Wisconsin’s Tyler Wahl (13 points) before draining a 3-pointer to give Maryland a 54-42 lead with 12:20 left, it was clear Wisconsin (12-7, 4-5) wasn’t ready for the challenge of beating the Terps on their home court.

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On Wednesday, Maryland continued to show why Xfinity Center has been a difficult place to play, outscoring Wisconsin 41-27 in the second half. The Terps have won five straight games at home to move to 10-1 in College Park this season.

“This building is electric,” first-year coach Kevin Willard said. “This is a true home-court advantage.”

Maryland’s 13th victory of the season featured four players scoring in double figures. Young continued his hot stretch, finishing with 22 points and eight rebounds, including 11 points in the first half. Scott totaled 14 points and 11 rebounds while Reese notched 14 points as well.

Maryland’s Julian Reese (10) tries to block a shot by Wisconsin’s Chucky Hepburn (23) during Wednesday night's game in College Park.

“[Maryland] goes as far as Young goes,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “He makes a lot of things happen for them. He was able to break us down and get the paint. He had us playing from behind in terms of pace of play.”

Hart scored 11 points, but his playmaking was just as impressive, as he dished out eight assists.

“That was definitely an emphasis because I can get into the lane and find my teammates,” Hart said.

The Terps shot the ball well throughout the game, finishing 28-for-50 (56%) from the field. They even went 6-for-14 from beyond the arc despite entering with the second-worst 3-point percentage (.301) in the Big Ten.

“We are getting back to where we were playing early in the season,” Willard said. “We haven’t changed anything [offensively]. They are just getting used to everything the league brings night in and night out.”

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Although the second half was one-sided, it was back-and-forth early in the game. Wisconsin’s Connor Essegian (19 points) knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer before Scott responded with one of his own to tie the score at 9. When Young buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key, Wisconsin’s Jordan Davis answered with a three to put the Badgers up 14-12.

Young would then drive to the rim for a one-handed dunk before Hart’s layup gave the Terps a 16-14 advantage with 13:41 left in the first half.

“I was trying to be aggressive,” Young said. “If I see an open lane, I’m going to take it. Nobody stepped up, so I took off.”

Just when the crowd thought they were going to witness an intense scoring battle, both teams went cold. Maryland and Wisconsin were held scoreless for over five minutes until Chucky Hepburn nailed a 3-pointer to give the Badgers a 20-18 advantage with eight minutes left in the half.

While Maryland remained stuck in a scoring drought, Xfinity Center sparked an offensive surge. The Terps scored 12 unanswered points, appearing unstoppable over a three-minute span. When Scott’s second 3-pointer was followed by back-to-back layups from Young and Reese, the Terps led 32-23 with 2:11 left.

“[We were] not stopping dribble penetration, not physical enough on the ball and not drawing a line in the paint,” said Gard, who watched his team get outscored 38-22 in the paint. “I thought they were more aggressive than us, even early in the first half.”

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A 5-0 run helped the Badgers claw back to within 32-28 at halftime, but it was only a matter of time before the Terps pulled away for good.

“We haven’t been up at halftime very much in Big Ten play,” Willard said. “We just came out and [were] aggressive.”

Nebraska at Maryland

Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network

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Radio: 105.7 FM


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