Jan 10, 2015; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Maryland Terrapins guard Richaud Pack (20) looks for his teammates during the first half of the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Mackey Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Maryland bounced back from their first Big Ten loss by beating Purdue on Saturday. A more aggressive effort from Maryland both offensively and defensively, sparked a second half effort that led to a nine point win. The Terps still struggled from the field, but did a better job of limiting turnovers and getting to the free throw line. Despite having the frontcourt saddled with foul trouble, Maryland held one of the best frontcourts in the Big Ten to twelve points total.
Rutgers also had to bounce back from a mid-week loss, and did so by beating a fourth-ranked Wisconsin team. The Scarlet Knights exploded for 44 points in the second half to erase a 12-point halftime deficit. Guard Myles Mack put forth an all-time performance playing 39 minutes and scoring 21 points with two rebounds, three assists, and no turnovers. To go along with Mack’s big night was Kadeem Jack, who chipped in 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting. The two upperclassmen will be remembered for years to come, as they were vital in the biggest win in Rutgers basketball history. Chris Bengel had more on Rutgers’ performance here.
On Saturday, Maryland will host Michigan State in a much-anticipated rematch of the double overtime game that opened the Big Ten campaign. Before the Terrapins get to the Spartans, they will need to take care of a Rutgers team who surprisingly has two Big Ten wins already. While Rutgers is one of the worst teams in the conference, they beat Vanderbilt and Clemson in the non-conference slate, and were a couple of possessions away from beating Northwestern and being 3-1. Maryland already paid the price for taking one Big Ten opponent lightly (Illinois), and they will need to make sure they don’t do the same again.
Here are the keys for Maryland winning on Wednesday night:
1) Home Sweet Home
It is no secret that Maryland plays better at home than they do on the road. The Terps have done a great job of winning away from home this season, but after spending all of last week on the road, it will be nice to play in front of their home fans. Being at home will help most with shooting and the Terrapins offense. Maryland averages 72.8 points-per-game, but on the two game road trip, they didn’t break seventy once.
In particular, guard Dez Wells, forward Jake Layman, and guard Melo Trimble struggled shooting on the road. The three of them shot under 36 percent from the field, while both Layman and Melo shot 33 percent from three. They were also below their season averages for scoring, as they averaged 9.5, 12, and 14 points respectively. These three players are vital for Maryland, and the Terps can’t win many games that these three struggle in. Hopefully coming back will help Trimble and Layman find their stroke again. As for Wells, it’s clear that his wrist is still not 100 percent. For now we will just have to wait out the injury and live with some of the mistakes that come from him gaining back confidence. But being at home will help him be a better distributor as the secondary players like guard Richaud Pack, guard Dion Wiley, and guard Jared Nickens should shoot better at home then on the road.
2) Containing Myles Mack And Kadeem Jack
Mack and Jack combined for forty-one of Rutgers’ 67 points against Wisconsin. On the season they averaged 13.8 and 12.6 respectively, which is 44.8 percent of the Scarlet Knights’ 55.8 points-per-game. Mack runs the show for Rutgers as he averages 4.2 assists-per-game, and Jack cleans up the glass averaging 6.6 rebounds-per-game. Neither shoots a high percentage from the floor, but they showed against Wisconsin that if both of them are on they are a tough duo to contain.
Maryland slowed down a tough frontcourt duo on Saturday in Isaac Haas and A.J. Hammons, and they did so while being in foul trouble. However, Haas and Hammons didn’t see the court together because of their position, while Mack and Jack will play together throughout the night. Maryland’s frontcourt has played well defensively and at 6’9, Jack won’t present a major size problem for the Terrapins. What will be important for Maryland’s frontcourt will be stepping out on Jack who attempts 49.4 percent of his field goals from the midrange area. If he gets that shot going, he is able to attack the rim more, and him and Mack can get their two man game going.
3) Pushing The Tempo
Rutgers ranks 225th in the country in tempo according to KenPom. Maryland ranks 186th, so not that much higher, but at home we have seen Maryland be more aggressive in their attack. The Terps are coming off of two grind it out games, and they would like to get back to playing a freer flowing game. The motion offense that Coach Mark Turgeon instilled during the summer is built around making quick reads and using motion in the half court to create mismatches and free shooters. In the grind it out games, Maryland struggled to be able to do that for the full 40 minutes. Pushing the tempo allows them to use these principles more and create open looks for all of the shooters available.
Illinois limited Maryland in transition, and against Purdue getting points in transition helped to spark Maryland’s offense especially during periods of stagnation. Rutgers isn’t a deep team with three players averaging more than thirty minutes per game. Pushing the tempo will help to wear out Rutgers and their jump shooters, who get most of their points in the midrange according to Hoop-Math.com.
The Terps can’t afford to take Rutgers lightly and after beating Wisconsin on Sunday night, the Scarlet Knights got everyone’s attention. Maryland is currently in a cluster of teams at 3-1 in the Big Ten standings, and already dropped a game they shouldn’t have. With only one game against Ohio State and Wisconsin this season, Maryland needs to make sure they winning the games they are supposed to for a shot at winning the Big Ten.