3-point shots: Observations and opinions from Maryland's home win Sunday over Wisconsin

There seemed to be more a sense of relief than elation after the Maryland men's basketball team walked off winners for the first time in 16 days Sunday afternoon against Wisconsin.

That happens when the team you’ve beaten has now lost five straight and eight of nine, and when the reality is that you’re still looking at a long, uphill slog in February to make March relevant.

That also happens when you go from a sluggish start in the first half to a 10-point halftime lead, then blow that lead in 7½ minutes and a five-point lead later in the game in 57 seconds.

But such is life for coach Mark Turgeon’s young, thin and wildly erratic Terps, who often play up — and unfortunately down — to the level of the competition.

Here are some observations and opinions from Maryland’s 68-63 win at Xfnity Center:

Surprising defense from Wiley and Nickens

In the four years since they came to Maryland along with Melo Trimble and Michal Cekovsky, Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens have never been called defensive stoppers.

In fact, their lack of defense has contributed more often to their reduced roles the past two years. Yet both helped the Terps beat the Badgers as much with their defense as their offense.

Wiley made the defensive play of the game by blocking Wisconsin freshman guard Brad Davison’s ill-advised drive with a couple of seconds left and the Terps leading by 3.

It was only the fourth blocked shot this season for the redshirt junior guard— the first since he had one against Gardner-Webb in early December — and 18th of his career.

“I was happy for Dion,” Turgeon said of the redshirt junior guard. “Something positive for Dion is great, and I thought he [also] made a couple of nice plays offensively.”

Wiley played 21 minutes Sunday after turning his ankle in the first half and not playing in the second half of Wednesday night’s 75-67 loss at No. 3 Purdue. He finished with four points, one on a breakaway layup and the other on a tough drive.

"He was much more aggressive on offense, which we need him to be,” Turgeon said.

Nickens, who hit both of his 3-point attempts and had an assist in 24 minutes, played solid defense down the stretch on redshirt freshman Akeem Ford.

Ford, who scored 12 points on 4-for-5 on 3-point shooting, took just one 3-pointer (he made it) down the stretch as Nickens limited his touches.

“I really thought Ford was playing really well and Jared had him at the end of the game and did a really nice job,” Turgeon said.

Given Maryland’s depth problems and relative inexperience, Turgeon is going to have to rely more on Wiley and Nickens, one of only two healthy seniors, the rest of the season.

It also means that two players who have never demonstrated much defensive intensity might need to do that a little more for the Terps to keep winning.

Fernando and Morsell play like freshmen

After showing their talents in the second half of Wednesday night’s loss at Purdue, freshmen Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph) showed their inexperience against the Badgers.

Fernando, who scored 15 of his 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds while matched up against Boilermakers’ center Isaac Haas, struggled with Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ.

While he had some good moments in the second half, with a block on Happ and a couple of strong dunks, Fernando made a crucial turnover on an inbounds pass that led to Ford’s game-tying 3.

“Those are things that Bruno will kind of learn,” sophomore guard Kevin Huerter said of Fernando, who finished with six points, nine rebounds and three turnovers in 27 minutes.

“He’ll learn to just let the ball bounce [instead of catching it as it comes through the net] and let someone else take it out and he’ll go downcourt, or just take his time.”

Huerter understands the process the 6-foot-10 Angolan is going through.

“That late in the game, when everything is going so fast and all the energy in the building, you just have to take your time and slow the game down and make the right plays and I think he’ll start to do that,” Huerter said.

While Morsell’s mistakes weren’t as glaring, the 6-4, 205-pound guard had his share after his 14-point, nine-rebound performance against the Boilermakers.

On Sunday, Morsell finished with just five points and one rebound while committing four turnovers in 29 minutes. He went 1-for-4 from the field and missed a couple of long 3-point attempts.

To his credit, Morsell had a couple of blocks and a steal. The second block came against Wisconsin junior guard Khalil Iverson with 53 seconds left and the Terps up 62-60.

Morsell controlled the rebound and on Maryland’s subsequent possession, Huerter scored on his second straight drive to put the Terps ahead by four.

Still, to make things easier for Huerter and fellow sophomore guard Anthony Cowan Jr., Fernando and Morsell need to play more the way they did against Purdue than they did against Wisconsin.

Tough stretch ahead

Sunday's game was the first of four games Maryland will play over the next 10 days, including road games at Penn State on Wednesday night and Nebraska on Feb. 13.

Those two road games will be important for the Terps to have any chance of fulfilling their seemingly now long-shot odds of a fourth straight NCAA tournament.

Maryland has not played well in two previous trips to the Bryce Jordan Center, and lost there last year. The Terps have never lost at Pinnacle Bank Arena, but the two games were close.

This is Maryland’s busiest stretch since the Terps opened the season with five games in 11 days, and after a four-day break played five more games in 10 days.

Back then, Maryland was at full strength.

Along with forwards Justin Jackson (torn labrum) and Ivan Bender (torn meniscus) being out for the season, the Teps will likely be without senior center Michal Cekovsky (bruised heel) in State College and probably a good deal longer.

For some reason, not having depth on the road seems to wear a team out more than it does at home.





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