Both teams were heading into vastly different directions heading into tonight’s game, but it is certainly a must win for both. In a game where Maryland was hoping for their first signature win this season, Maryland trails Syracuse 32-24 behind another greating shooting night from Seth Allen.
Defensively, Maryland has played smart and poised, which is how they need to play. What stood out to me the most was Maryland’s focus on three-point shooter Trevor Cooney. Coming into the game, Cooney averaged 13.4 points per game on 41% shooting from outside. Where the Terps did struggle was stopping CJ Fair. He missed some shots, but it seemed Fair was shooting where he wanted despite some tight Maryland defense. That’s what happens when a great player comes to town, though.
Offensively, Maryland was patient and despite 10 turnovers, I saw an offense that was looking to break down the defense rather than force tough shots. The majority of the turnovers came from quick passes that were not as sharp as they needed to be. This should not be a cause for concern. Considering Maryland had such difficulty breaking down the zone against worse teams than Syracuse at the beginning of the year, this team is doing a much better job against a team with arguably the best zone defense in the country.
For Maryland, they need to continue to be patient on offense. I really do see a team taking good shots. Seth Allen has been keeping Maryland in this game, as he has four threes this half alone. I expect Syracuse to not make it a priority to shut him down, but to pay a little more attention and put more pressure on him. Enter Dez Wells.
Maryland has played well and deserve to be in this game. But in order to win, turnovers need to be cut down, as 19 of Syracuse’s 32 points have come off turnovers. Very rarely will a team win a game giving up more than half a team’s points off turnovers, but if Maryland can be more efficient with the basketball and play composed, then this is Maryland’s to lose.