After a drubbing of Ohio State, the Maryland men’s basketball team needed overtime to fend off a tough Northwestern team in a 62-56 win on Tuesday.
It definitely wasn’t a pretty victory as the Terrapins were outrebounded, outhustled, and at times outplayed. However, Maryland made enough plays down the stretch to dispatch a scrappy Wildcat group.
Maryland didn’t hold a lead until there was just 1:45 remaining in the first half thanks to a three-pointer from guard Melo Trimble. Trimble had a tremendous showing against Northwestern with 18 points and six assists. The former Bishop O’Connell (Va.) star scored 11 of those points in the second or overtime, and provided a spark whenever the Terps needed it.
Despite holding a 31-29 halftime lead and an-eight point advantage early in the second half, the Wildcats came all the way back to tie the game at 41 with 9:04 to go in the game. Northwestern did take a brief 47-43 lead, but a layup by Trimble and a three-pointer from forward Jake Layman put Maryland up 48-47.
The game did go to overtime, but the Terps finished the period on a 7-2 run to close it out. Center Diamond Stone scored five of the seven points, including three from the free throw line.
Stone was one of the biggest reasons for Maryland’ struggles. The freshman star picked up two personal fouls shortly after entering the game in the first half. This made Stone play a little bit more tentatively than he normally does.
Stone did pick up his play when the Terps needed him, but the absence of Michal Cekovsky down low was an issue. Maryland was outrebounded 41-32, including surrendering 16 on the offensive glass.
Cekovsky certainly have establish himself around the rim, so having him back against Michigan State will be a huge plus.
Getting to know Michigan State
The Spartans are one of the most storied programs in college basketball. During the 2014-15 season, many doubted that coach
could take his team deep into March. However, everyone one again learned that Izzo should never be taken lightly. Michigan State made it all the way to the Final Four before losing to eventual national champion Duke. The Spartans did lose guard
from last year’s team, but still entered the season at No. 13. The team has struggled lately as they’ve lost their last three games.
- Much like Maryland, it all revolves around guard Denzel Valentine for Michigan State. The term “do-it-all guard” may be used quite often, but it’s definitely valid when it comes to Valentine. The senior point guard is a very gifted passer that doesn’t need much room to stick his passes to open teammates. In the 16 games that Valentine has played in this season, he has dished out five or more assists in 13 of them. He’s also had double-digit assists in three of those contests. Valentine can also rebound and score with the best of them. At 6’5, the Lansing (Mich.) native has the ability to dominate in the paint while also being able to step out and shoot from the perimeter. He is shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the arc and is averaging 18.3 points-per-game/7.6 rebounds-per-game/6.6 assists-per-game. There really hasn’t been a game this year where Valentine has been shut down or even moderately contained. He scored single-digit points just once, but still managed to dish out 11 assists and reel in seven rebounds.
- While the big story for the Spartans is guard play, their bigs aren’t half bad either. Forward Matt Costello makes his living around the rim as he averages 9.6 ppg/8.0 rpg/1.1 blocks-per-game. Costello isn’t a huge offensive threat, but he’s an energy guy that can make a play when he catches the ball around the basket. He certainly has the ability to elevate to the rim and take it up strong. An underrated part of Costello’s game is his passing ability. When the double team comes in the post, Costello knows how to make the right pass to avoid any turnovers. On the other hand, forward Deyonta Davis also has a tremendous amount of potential. While Davis was only started the last two games for the Spartans, he definitely has an NBA body. Davis makes his living around the basket as he has no problem elevating above the rim for a slam dunk or to grab a rebound. He’s a high energy player that is just starting to find his niche in the Spartan offense. One of Davis’ only weaknesses is an inconsistent jump shot. He can hit it from 15 feet out, but it’s something that still needs to be worked on.
Keys to victory for Maryland
- Rebound game from Stone – It’s been well-documented that Maryland’s freshman phenom suffered through foul trouble against Northwestern. Stone picked up two early fouls and that really set him back. The Wisconsin native didn’t register a single rebound against the Wildcats, which was the first game of the his collegiate career where that occurred. The Terps are going to need Stone to come out and be aggressive, especially since the Spartans have talented bigs in Costello and Davis.
- Big game Melo – The last five games haven’t been indicative of the type of player that Trimble is. The Maryland star has scored eight points or less in three of those five games, including just two points against Michigan in arguably the worst game of his career. Trimble did have a strong bounce back game against Northwestern, which is certainly encouraging. This is the type of game that Trimble came to Maryland for. In fact, he had one of the best performances of his career against the Spartans in the second meeting between the two teams last season. Trimble scored 24 points in a rout, including this step-back jumper that many Maryland fans will remember.
- Crash the boards hard – Maryland struggled in the rebounding department on Tuesday, especially on the offensive glass. Second-chance points are incredibly crucial and that becomes even more true when you’re playing a scrappy team like Northwestern. As was mentioned above, the Spartans have a very talented frontcourt that ranks in the top three in the Big Ten in both offensive and defensive rebounds. Costello and Davis should prove to be a very tough matchup, but the Terps have four very talented bigs that can get the job done.