The Maryland basketball team suffered their most heartbreaking loss of the season at the hands of Purdue on Saturday.
Now they’ll have a chance to put that behind against a young Penn State squad on Tuesday evening.
Despite missing 11 of his 15 field goal attempts, guard Melo Trimble still managed to score 22 points in the defeat. Unfortunately for the Terrapins, forward Justin Jackson came back down to Earth as he only scored eight points after two monster outings.
The Terps did see big man Michal Cekovsky have his most productive showing since returning to the lineup. Cekovsky added 10 points (4-of-4 shooting) and blocked six shots.
As a group, Maryland only shot 39.7 percent from the field and 21.1 percent (4-of-19) from beyond the arc. Over the final 7:38 of the game, the Terps failed to record a field goal.
Keys to the game
1.) Defend the three – Penn State is one of the better three-point shooting teams in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are connecting on 36 percent of their long-range attempts, which is good for seventh in the conference. Payton Banks, Tony Carr, and Shep Garner all shoot at least 36 percent from beyond the arc and Banks leads the team with a 39.4 percent clip. Maryland’s length definitely is going to come into play and they’ll need to close out on Penn State’s shooters if they don’t want the Nittany Lions to hang around.
2.) Slow down Tony Carr – Carr has been one of the more impressive freshmen in the conference this season. This is the type of player that can do a little of everything. He’s averaging 12.2 points/4.7 rebounds/4.0 assists while also shooting 36 percent from three. Carr, who was heavily recruited by Mark Turgeon, is coming off a week in which he scored 40 points against the likes of Indiana and Rutgers. Maryland’s guards are definitely going to have their hands full.
3.) Control the paint – Maryland’s frontcourt received a huge boost on Saturday when Cekovsky was able to play double-digit minutes and looked like his old self. The Terps more than held their own against a frontcourt-dominated Purdue squad. Maryland just lost the rebound battle (40-37), but did hold Caleb Swanigan and Issac Haas to just 12-of-29 shooting. With Penn State being a team that relies on their guards, Maryland’s frontcourt could shine once again.
Players to watch
Shep Garner (guard) – Garner leads Penn State in scoring (13.0 points) and excels at shooting the three (37.7 percent). The sophomore is a tough guard that affects the game in a variety of different ways. If Maryland doesn’t get in Garner’s face, he could have a big game.
Tony Carr (guard) – As was mentioned above, Carr is such a versatile threat. He can score inside and from the perimeter while also possessing the ability to pass and rebound the basketball. This game is really going to come down to what backcourt make the necessary plays down the stretch.
Mike Watkins (center) – Watkins is one of the most impressive young big men around. This is a guy that is extremely athletic and can really be a force on the glass. He averages 9.5 points and 8.1 rebounds while rejecting 2.5 shots-per-game. Watching Watkins go toe-to-toe with Damonte Dodd should be a treat.
Maryland really hasn’t faced much adversity up to this point in the season. However, the Terps definitely need this win after dropping Saturday’s contest to Purdue.
It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Maryland came out firing on all cylinders and jumped all over Penn State early on. This one is really going to come down to the guard play. This is a game where Trimble could shine and lead the Terps to a convincing win. Maryland takes this one 76-62.