Maryland men’s basketball earned its fifth straight home victory by defeating Wisconsin, 73-55, on Wednesday night.
From graduate transfer guard Jahmir Young playing at an All-Big Ten Conference level to where the Terps stand with 11 games left in the regular season, here are three takeaways from their 10th win inside Xfinity Center.
Jahmir Young is surging
Any concerns about how Young would adjust to the Big Ten have been put to rest during this five-game stretch in which the Charlotte transfer has averaged 21.6 points while shooting 42.5% from the field.
The Upper Marlboro native has tallied 20 or more points in four of the past five games, with Wednesday’s 22-point outing another example of his ability to blow past opponents for easy baskets.
“I think he’s gotten more comfortable with the size and length [in the Big Ten],” first-year coach Kevin Willard said. “He’s more comfortable with the offense, but more than anything, he is more comfortable with the league.”
Through 20 games, Young is averaging a team-best 15.9 points per game on 42% shooting, though he has room to improve — he’s made just 25.9% of his 3-point attempts.
“[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.”
This was the Terps’ best offensive performance in years
Maryland was on a roll offensively against the Badgers.
The Terps shot an impressive 56% from the field, their highest field goal percentage since March 8, 2020, when they shot 56% to beat Michigan and clinch a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.
Points were evenly distributed among Maryland’s starting five. Senior Donta Scott posted 14 points and 11 rebounds, sophomore forward Julian Reese added 14 points and managed to stay out of foul trouble until the second half, and senior guard Hakim Hart posted 11 points.
Young, Scott, Reese and Hart each shot better than 50% from the field.
“It makes us very hard to guard, and I feel like teams don’t have an answer for us when we all are clicking,” Hart said.
Maryland continued to dominate in the post, too, as it outscored the Badgers in the paint, 38-22, including scoring 14 of its first 17 points there to start the second half.
“In this league, you got to post up,” Willard said. “These guys figured out that you have to grind it out and throw the ball into the post. Even though our tempo is good, it’s a bad thing to make teams defend you down low.”
Maryland’s scoring outburst shouldn’t overshadow its ability to distribute the ball. Against Wisconsin, the Terps totaled 15 assists, their second-highest total of the season, compared to eight turnovers.
Entering final stretch, Terps are in a good spot
At 13-7 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten, Maryland is right in the mix in a muddled conference through 20 games.
The Terps are ninth in the league standings and have a chance to reach .500 or better with upcoming home games against Nebraska and Indiana.
Outside of No. 1 Purdue (19-1, 8-1), which the Terps nearly upset on Sunday, the rest of the Big Ten is wide-open. Rutgers (14-6, 6-3) sits in second place, while Northwestern (14-5, 5-3), Michigan (11-8, 5-3) and Illinois (14-6, 5-4) round out the top five in the conference.
“We feel pretty good where we are,” Willard said.
The Terps are ranked 33rd in KenPom and 38th in the NET rankings, which takes into account game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency and the quality of wins and losses.
If the season ended today, Maryland would be nearly a lock to make the NCAA Tournament. ESPN’s Bracketology has the Terps as a No. 11 seed.
Willard shows his players KenPom rankings and bracket projections so they can understand where they stand among other teams in the nation.
“It’s [my] job to inform them and try to give them the best picture possible,” he said. “That’s one reason my teams play well toward the end of January and February.”
Nebraska at Maryland
Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 105.7 FM