The Maryland basketball team fell short against Wisconsin in arguably their biggest game of the season.
With that loss in the rear view mirror, the Terrapins will attempt to get back into the win column when they host Minnesota on Wednesday.
Melo Trimble has been on an absolute tear over the past two games. He’s averaging 29.5 points during that time and has been unstoppable for the Terps.
Trimble singlehandedly kept Maryland in the game against Wisconsin in the second half. However, the mountain ultimately proved to tall to climb with only one of his teammates scoring in double figures.
Maryland’s other four starters combined to score just 16 points on 4-of-17 shooting. Forward Justin Jackson continued to struggle with only six points despite hitting a three on his first field goal attempt in the early going.
Michal Cekovsky added 10 points, but went down late in the second half. An MRI revealed that Cekovsky suffered a fractured ankle, which will cause him to miss the remainder of the season.
Now Maryland will have to flip the script to life without Cekovsky. The Terps will need to figure out how to combat the loss and shuffle the frontcourt rotation around a bit.
Keys to the game
1.) Perimeter shooting – This matchup features the top two teams in the Big Ten in terms of defending the three. Opponents are shooting just 30.2 percent against Minnesota while Maryland is yielding just a 31.4 clip. Both teams possess several long, athletic players that can defend. It’s really going to come down to who is actually able to use ball screens and get some breathing room for open jump shots. Guys like Kevin Huerter, Jackson, and Trimble could be huge factors for the Terps.
2.) Anyone besides Trimble – This was the main reason that Maryland wasn’t able to outlast Wisconsin in the second half. Aside from Cekovsky and Trimble, no Terp produced more than six points. Trimble is a phenomenal player that can get to the basket at an absurd rate. However, he can’t do it all by himself. One of Maryland’s other starters is going to have to step up.
3.) Protect the paint – The Golden Gophers are clearly one of the better defensive teams in the conference. This is a group that averages 6.6 blocks-per-game, which is the most in the Big Ten. On the other hand, the Terps do their fair share of rejecting shots with 4.8 per contest. Even without Cekovsky, Dodd swats away 2.1 shots per game and can be an imposing defensive presence. Watching Dodd and Reggie Lynch (3.1 blocks-per-game) go at it down low should be a tremendous battle to see.
Players to watch
Nate Mason (guard) – Mason is the straw that stirs the drink for the Golden Gophers. He excels at getting to the rim while also possessing an ability to shoot from beyond the arc (39.1 percent). He’s a high-volume shooter that averages 12.5 field goal attempts per contest, so he’s likely still going to get his fair share of looks. Mason can also take a back seat and set up his teammates as he leads Minnesota with 5.1 assists-per-game.
Amir Coffey (guard) – Coffey is a long, athletic guard that is a strong compliment to Mason. He’s well-rounded player that can score, rebound, and dish the basketball. Coffey really excels at putting the ball on the floor and can score off the bounce. His 6’8 frame also allows him to post up down low and he’s a solid scorer from that area.
Jordan Murphy (forward) – Murphy may not be as polished as Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, but he does possess some of the same attributes. On the season, Murphy has registered nine double-doubles and averages 10.7 points and 8.5 rebounds. He’s a very high-energy big that does his damage down low. Murphy should be an interesting assignment for Dodd.
Maryland can’t afford to dwell on the Wisconsin loss despite it being very disappointing. Minnesota gave the Terps a very tough test on the road last month. It’s also going to be interesting to see how Maryland reacts without Cekovsky for the first time in weeks.
The Terps will need Trimble to keep up his stellar play going forward. If Maryland can get from scoring from other sources besides Trimble, it’ll go a long way towards deciding this one. Maryland wins a tight one 67-62.