Maryland At Penn State Preview


Feb 11, 2015; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins forward Jake Layman (10) drives against the Indiana Hoosiers at Xfinity Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (20-5, 8-4) at Penn State Nittany Lions (15-10, 3-9)

The Time: Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

The Location: Bryce Jordan Center, State College, Pa.

TV/Radio: Big Ten Network

The Backstory: Maryland is coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season against Indiana. After their recent struggles on the road coupled with being generally inconsistent as of late, the Terps played a full 40 minutes and shot the lights out. Maryland shot a remarkable 47.6 percent from beyond the arc and had five players connect on multiple three-point field goals. Melo Trimble had arguably his best Big Ten game as he scored 18 points and looked like a wily veteran as he dissected the Hoosier defense.

After beating Purdue, Rutgers, and Michigan State in January, Maryland hasn’t won consecutive games since. The Terps have lost by significant double-digit margins to the likes of Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio State. If Maryland is going to be a team that plays deep into March, they’re going to have to put some winning streaks together. With Penn State and Nebraska on tap for Maryland, this is the time to play their best basketball.

In recent years, Penn State is a team that has had their fair share of struggles. However, coach Pat Chambers is slowly but surely turning the program around. Chambers is having success on recruiting trail in several battleground areas including the DMV and Philadelphia. The former Boston University coach has Fairfax native and Oak Hill Academy shooting guard Josh Reaves coming to State College next year rather than staying home. Reaves was heavily recruited by Georgetown and Maryland, but chose Penn State. Reaves’ teammate Joe Hampton also chose Penn State over Maryland, so it’ll be interesting to see how Maryland battles Penn State for recruits in the years to come.

With that being said, the Nittany Lions are not where they need to be yet. While they do have 15 wins, most of those came during their very weak non-conference schedule. Penn State’s best wins were probably against Drexel and Virginia Tech, who have both only won 10 games apiece this season. The Nittany Lions managed to lose their first six league games and have been very inconsistent. This is a team that doesn’t score a ton of points, but is dominated by one of the most talented guards in the country in D.J. Newbill. The combination of Newbill, junior Brandon Taylor, and freshman Shep Garner account for 58.8 percent of Penn State’s points-per-game. Simply put, there’s little production aside from the starting trio in the backcourt. When the Nittany Lions faced the Terps in the first meeting, the trio netted 33 of the team’s 58 points in a loss. Penn State is going to have to have success on the perimeter if they want to have a chance to beat Maryland.

Keys/Storylines To Watch:

1.) Win battle on the boards – One of Penn State’s biggest issues is in the low post. Their bigs had issues in the first meeting as the Terps outrebounded the Nittany Lions 38-29, including grabbing nine offensive boards. Center Damonte Dodd is the key for Maryland to be successful. While Dodd may not always play a ton of minutes, he manages to establish himself defensively early in games. For example, Dodd rejected a pair of shots in the first three minutes of Wednesday’s win against Indiana. If Dodd is able to have similar success against the likes of Donovon Jack and Ross Travis, it could be a long day for Penn State.

2.) Guard play – This is likely where the games is going to be won or lost. Newbill can fill up the stat sheets like few others in the nation can. Guys like Garner and Taylor both shoot over 37 percent from the floor and can burn Maryland if they get open shots. Maryland’s perimeter defense will be key in this game. If Dez Wells and Trimble are able to hold their own, the Terps definitely could run away with this one.

3.) Jon Graham – Graham had a career-high 16 points and grabbed six rebounds against his former team in the first meeting. While many Terps weren’t hitting shots, Graham provided a level of consistency and high-energy play when the team needed it most. In another road test, Graham likely could see a good amount of minutes once again. The Baltimore native has another chance to make his impact known in front of the fans that used to cheer for him. Graham also only scored four total points in the last two games against Indiana and Iowa, so getting the forward back on track would be a huge coup for Maryland.