College Park, Md. — It was one of those nights when most of Maryland’s shots were bouncing off the rim or spinning out of the basket. For several minutes at a time, the Terrapins went up and down the court without scoring a point.
Fortunately, No. 9 Maryland found a way to compensate for that shortcoming in a 56-51 victory over Rutgers on Tuesday night.
“We were terrific on defense,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “We weren’t at our best, but when we had to be we were good.”
Jalen Smith had 14 points and 15 rebounds for Maryland (18-4, 8-3 Big Ten) and Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 17, but Turgeon was more inclined to talk about Smith’s career-high six blocked shots.
“Our defense was great and Stix had a lot to do with it,” the coach said. “We really worked hard on defense the last two days because that’s who we need to be.”
Smith said: “I was just trying to block everything that went up. That’s my normal stand, just playing defense and helping my team.”
The Terrapins trailed 25-20 at halftime after shooting 24%. With Smith leading the way, Maryland emerged from the break with a 14-4 run and held off a late surge by the Scarlet Knights to improve to 13-0 at home.
“We had to have a good start in the second half and we did,” Turgeon said. “We really guarded well in that stretch.”
Three free throws by Cowan put the Terrapins up 52-49 with 2:12 to go. Myles Johnson answered with a dunk, but the Scarlet Knights did not score again.
“It’s on me at the end of the game to make sure we get some better looks,” coach Steve Pikiell said. “I’ve got to give (the Terps) a lot of credit. They make it hard. They’ve got a big-time shot blocker in the paint.”
Smith, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, notched his fifth straight double-double. He had a 3-pointer and a three-point play in succession to put the Terps ahead 34-29, and the margin swelled to eight points before Rutgers (16-7, 7-5) rallied.
In the end, Maryland’s defense was just too good.
“Defense is what fuels us,” Smith said.
Akwasi Yeboah scored 13 for the Scarlet Knights, who shot 34% and went 3 for 17 from beyond the arc. Rutgers is 0-8 against Maryland since both teams joined the Big Ten in 2014.
Still, these aren’t the same Scarlet Knights who won only nine conference games during their first four years in the Big Ten.
“We’re picked 12th in the league. We’re playing teams that are picked first, second, third, fourth coming up,” Pikiell said. “So we’ll be fine. Keep working, keep staying the course.”
Maryland went 7 for 29 from the floor in the first half, made only two baskets over the final 12 minutes and fell behind at the break despite holding Rutgers without a point over the final 5 minutes.
Smith had eight points and five rebounds in the opening seven minutes to stake the Terrapins to a 14-6 lead. But Maryland missed 14 of its next 16 shots and went scoreless for more than 7½ minutes while Rutgers went on a 19-4 run that included a trio of 3-pointers by Yeboah.
Cowan finally ended the drought with two free throws.
(At) Eastern Michigan 66, Buffalo 62: Ty Groce scored 14 points and four steals, and Darion Spottsville and Thomas Binelli added 11 points apiece as the Eagles (12-10, 2-7 Mid-American Conference) won their second straight.
Josh Mballa led Buffalo (14-9, 5-5) with 16 points.
Western Michigan 64, (at) Miami (Ohio) 60: Brandon Johnson scored 21 points and Western Michigan beat Miami (Ohio).
Following Johnson’s basket that broke a 58-all tie, Dae Dae Grant went to the foul line for the Red Hawks but made just 1 of 2 with 13 seconds left to make it 60-59.
Michael Flowers then made a pair for WMU (10-12, 3-6 MAC) for a 62-59 lead. Isaiah Coleman-Lands was fouled and made the first of two and intentionally missed the second. Milos Jovic intentionally fouled Flowers who sank a pair to end it.
Flowers scored 16 and went 11 of 12 from the foul line. The Broncos ended a three-game skid.
Grant scored 20 for the Red Hawks, who have lost back-to-back contests.
(At) Central Michigan 92, Bowling Green 82: Dallas Morgan poured in 29 points, shooting 5-of-10 from 3-point range, as Central Michigan (13-8, 6-2 MAC) won its third straight.
David DiLeo scored 26, including six 3-pointers, while Kevin McKay (13) and Rob Montgomery (11) also reached double figures.
The Chippewas took a 48-35 halftime lead behind 58.7-percent shooting from the field, including 63.4 percent from 3.
Justin Turner led Bowling Green (17-6, 8-2) with 31 points.
Top 25 men
No. 7 Duke 63, (at) Boston College 55: Vernon Carey Jr. had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Duke and give Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski his 500th career Atlantic Coast Conference victory.
Carey made a layup and then hit two free throws with about six minutes left during a 10-0 run that gave Duke (19-3. 9-2 ACC) the lead for good. Tre Jones scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half for the Blue Devils.
Derryck Thornton scored 21 points and Steffon Mitchell had 12 rebounds for Boston College (11-12, 5-7).
No. 11 Auburn 79, (at) Arkansas 76 (OT): Samir Doughty scored 23, including hitting two free throws in the final seconds of overtime, and No. 11 Auburn overcame a 40-point game by Mason Jones.
Arkansas (16-6, 4-5 SEC) led 65-54 at the 5:59 mark on a Jalen Harris dunk, but the Tigers (20-2, 7-2) closed on a 15-4 run to force the extra period.
Jones had scored more than 30 in three straight games.
(At) No. 15 Kentucky 80, Mississippi State 72: Nick Richards scored a career-high 27 points, Immanuel Quickley added 21 and No. 15 Kentucky beat Mississippi State for the 14th straight time.
Seeking to regroup after last weekend’s 75-66 loss at No. 11 Auburn, the Wildcats (17-5, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) never trailed and led by as many as 14 midway through the second half. They were quicker and more physical against the Bulldogs, outscoring them 38-34 in the paint and drawing fouls. They made 31 of 36 from the line.