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Terps

Three takeaways from No. 13 Maryland men’s basketball’s first loss of the season, a 64-59 defeat to Wisconsin

In what had been a dominant season up to this point, Kevin Willard’s first loss at Maryland men’s basketball coach finally arrived Tuesday night in Madison, Wisconsin. The Badgers jumped out to an early lead, held off a late first-half Terps rally and another in the second half to upset No. 13 Maryland.

From the Terps facing their significant deficit of the season to their ugly second-half offensive performance, here are three takeaways from Maryland’s 64-59 loss to the Badgers on Tuesday night.

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Terps finally face a deficit

Maryland had only trailed in two of its first eight games. Against Wisconsin, however, the Terps faced their largest deficit of the season and did so in a hurry.

Maryland had become accustomed to fast starts but on Tuesday night the Terps missed several 3-pointers, some of which were of the wide-open variety, and the Badgers took advantage, picking apart their defense with ball movement and off-ball cutting. Maryland quickly found itself trailing 21-11 after Wisconsin’s Jordan Davis buried a corner 3-pointer with 10:16 left in the first half.

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“I thought early on [Wisconsin] got some easy back-cuts that deflated us a little bit,” Willard said.

It took longer than expected, but Tuesday night tested Maryland’s adversity when facing a double-digit deficit. For the most part, the Terps showed they could handle the pressure. They picked up their defensive pressure and their early shooting woes gave way as the Terps went on an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to 27-26 with 3:08 left before the half.

Their 3-point shooting was a huge factor during the run. After the Terps started the evening 0-for-5 from deep, they drained four 3-pointers in the final five minutes of the half. Forward Donta Scott and guards Hakim Hart and Jahari Long traded outside shots before guard Don Carey knocked down a step-back 3-pointer to tie the game at 29. But a layup from Wisconsin’s Tyler Wahl gave the Badgers a 31-29 lead at intermission, another first for the Terps.

“Once we got past the first seven minutes, I thought we settled in pretty good defensively,” Willard said. “I thought the biggest adjustment that we made was we stayed at home on the post a little bit more and stayed with cutters.”

Maryland carried the momentum into the early minutes of the second. Scott blocked a shot before racing down the court for a layup to tie the game at 31. Moments later, sophomore forward Julian Reese knocked down a jumper to give the Terps a one-point lead.

But as the second half unfolded, Maryland’s offense stalled and the Terps found themselves down 58-47 with four minutes remaining in regulation. They showed some resiliency as Carey and guard Jahmir Young made back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 58-53, but they couldn’t get any closer than four points down the final stretch. Still, Young praised his team’s fighting effort.

“I love when we face adversity and bounce back,” Young said. “Being down and coming back will help us in future games. It shows that we have people who are willing to fight and get back into the game.”

Wisconsin's Chucky Hepburn (23) works to pass the ball against Maryland's Jahmir Young (1) and Donta Scott, bottom, during the second half of a game Tuesday night in Madison, Wisconsin.

That second half was ... ugly

Basketball savants will want to put the film of the final 20 minutes of that game in a vault and throw away the key.

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Both teams shot under 40% and combined for 29 fouls. Maryland committed eight of its 14 turnovers in the second, including four during the opening minutes.

But the Terps’ poor shooting down the stretch proved to be the difference-maker. Maryland had a stretch where it shot 2 of 17 from the floor, missing 10 straight baskets. Even though the Badgers were held without a field goal for almost four minutes, Maryland failed to take advantage. Wisconsin was able to hang on despite making just 15 of 25 free throws in the second half and no field goals over the final 4:03.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking misses came from Scott and Hart. Down 60-55 with 1:20 remaining, Scott’s open floater hit the front of the rim. Soon after, Hart missed a wide-open layup.

“I thought we had opportunities,” Willard said. “We missed like five free throws down the stretch. I thought we hurt ourselves because we didn’t take advantage of some of the opportunities.”

Maryland's Hakim Hart, center, drives between Wisconsin's Jordan Davis, left, and Carter Gilmore during the first half of a game Tuesday night in Madison, Wisconsin.

Senior leaders were put on ice

Scott and Hart had a hard time finding a rhythm offensively on Tuesday, as they combined to shoot 5-for-24 from the floor and 3-for-11 from the 3-point line.

Although Scott was active around the rim, recording 10 rebounds and three blocks, he only had nine points on 3 of 14 shooting. The senior guard was 12 of 25 (48%) in the past two games, scoring 12 points in their 71-66 victory over then-No. 16 Illinois on Friday night and a team-high 18 against Louisville last week.

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Hart added just five points on an uncharacteristically poor shooting performance, going 2-for-10 from the field.. Before the loss to the Badgers, the senior guard was one of Maryland’s most efficient scorers. During the Terps’ 8-0 start, he shot 60.3% from the floor and over 50% from behind the arc.

The Terps entered Tuesday averaging 80.8 points per game and outscoring opponents by 19.8. They’ll need Scott and Hart to find their shooting stroke to get back in the win column against No. 7 Tennessee on Sunday.

Hall of Fame Invitational

No. 13 Maryland vs. No. 7 Tennessee

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

Sunday, 4:30 p.m.

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TV: FS1

Radio: 105.7 FM


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