COLLEGE PARK — Almost a month ago, the then-No. 17 Maryland men’s basketball team needed a career effort from sophomore forward Jalen Smith to dig itself out of a 14-point deficit at halftime and beat Northwestern on the road.
In the teams’ second matchup of the season on Tuesday, the Baltimore native had himself another career night. Led by Smith’s 22 points and career-high 19 rebounds, Maryland defeated the Wildcats at Xfinity Center, 76-67.
Smith also extended his double double streak to nine games, which coincides with Maryland’s nine-game winning streak. It just missed being the first 20-rebound game in program history since Joe Smith recorded 21 — and 31 points — against Texas in the 1995 NCAA tournament.
“He just keeps growing,” coach Mark Turgeon said of Jalen Smith. “Defensively, he does so much for us on the defensive end. And offensively, he really helps us space the floor. Tonight he was really good around the basketball, which was great to see, too.”
Senior guard Anthony Cowan recorded 19 points, passing Tom McMillen for eighth on the program’s all-time scoring list. He also became the ninth player in Maryland history to surpass 1,800 career points. He has 1,809 points and is 49 short of catching Lonny Baxter for seventh.
Tuesday night’s score was almost identical to the score from the teams’ first game in Evanston — Maryland rallied back to beat Northwestern, 77-66 — but this time the Terps jumped out to a double-digit lead early and held on, despite a late push from the Wildcats.
A 12-3 run to end the first half, propelled by consecutive 3-pointers from junior guard Darryl Morsell and sophomore guards Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala, gave Maryland (22-4, 12-3 Big Ten) a 37-25 lead at halftime.
Smith managed to continue his double double streak in the first half, recording 12 points and 12 rebounds. Smith added two blocks and two steals to his all-around stat line.
For the second straight week, Maryland allowed a lowly Big Ten opponent to stay around late into the second half. Northwestern (6-19, 1-14) got as close as four in the second half, with Maryland shooting 1-for-13 on 3-pointers in the second half.
Unlike last Tuesday’s 72-70 scare against Nebraska at home, the Terps didn’t allow the game to be decided on the final possession.
Maryland responded with a 6-0 run that bumped its lead back to 12 with under three minutes remaining before holding on for the nine-point win. A large disparity in free throw attempts in the second half — Maryland made 14 of 17, compared with two of four in the first half — helped offset its poor 3-point shooting.
“The last seven or eight minutes, our offense was terrific,” Turgeon said. “Our execution, our halfcourt offense was great. Sharing the ball, getting to the foul line, spacing, coming out of timeouts and scoring or getting fouled, we did a lot of great things.
“When you’re 1-for-13 from 3 and probably 10 of them are wide open, it’s not going to be a 20-point win. It’s who we are, we figured it out, we didn’t panic and we played with great poise.”
Freshman forward Donta Scott, who found himself in early foul trouble, recorded 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting. Morsell added 13 points and seven assists, his second straight game registering at least seven assists.
Ryan Young, Boo Buie and Miller Kopp accounted for 45 of Northwestern’s 67 points. Graduate transfer Pat Spencer (Boys’ Latin) recorded seven points and five rebounds after leading the Wildcats with 17 points and nine rebounds in the teams’ first matchup.
No. 9 Penn State’s loss at home to Illinois earlier in the night gives Maryland a two-game lead in the conference standings entering Sunday’s ranked matchup with No. 25 Ohio State.
“I keep thinking our best basketball is still ahead of us, and we played pretty well,” Turgeon said. “So hopefully it is from them. No panic out of them and our guys just continued to play with poise and they didn’t let those shots affect the rest of the game.”
No. 7 Maryland@No. 25 Ohio State
Sunday, 4 p.m.
TV: Chs. 13, 9
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