College Park, Md. — It had been a long time since Maryland played well in the first half, opened a large lead and cruised to an easy victory.
All that happened in a 75-59 rout of Indiana on Saturday. Best of all, for the first time in weeks, the Terrapins had a blast on the basketball court.
Jalen Smith scored 19 points, Aaron Wiggins and Anthony Cowan Jr. had 13 apiece and No. 15 Maryland returned to form against the cold-shooting Hoosiers.
Darryl Morsell scored 12 for the Terrapins (12-2, 2-1 Big Ten), who climbed to No. 3 in mid-December before losing successive games to Penn State and Seton Hall. An unimpressive win over Bryant followed on Dec. 29, but Maryland opened the New Year in dominant fashion against the Hoosiers (11-3, 1-2).
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “That’s the best we’ve played in a while.”
The Terrapins turned a three-point game into a blowout with second-half runs of 8-0, 11-0 and 12-0.
It was a flashback to a happier time when the Terrapins opened with 10 straight wins. Then things got messy.
“The bottom line is, it’s been tough. There’s been a lot on our plate,” Turgeon said. “We were ranked really high. I’m not sure we were ready for it, I’m not sure we deserved it. I don’t think we were having any fun.
“Today, the guys had fun. You saw them smiling, you saw guys playing more relaxed as the game went on. So, a lot of positives moving forward.”
Indiana trailed 71-41 with 3:44 left before using a late surge to avoid its lowest point total of the season. Still, it marked the fifth time in six games the Hoosiers scored 64 points or fewer.
“The ball is not going in the basket, whether it’s a layup, whether it’s a free throw or whether it’s a wide-open shot,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “At some point, you have to be able to put it in the basket.”
Devonte Green scored 18 for the Hoosiers, with most of those points coming in the final meaningless minutes. Indiana 6-foot-11 center Joey Brunk had nine points and 10 rebounds, but the Hoosiers could not supplement his inside play with jumpers from the outside.
Indiana went 4 for 18 beyond the arc, missing 12 of its initial 13 attempts, and shot only 36 percent from the floor.
“We got some good looks. We got some point-blank stuff around the basket in both halves,” Miller said. “We needed them to go down. They didn’t. We’ve got to find a way to knock those in as we move forward.”
After Indiana cut an 11-point deficit to 36-33, Terps freshman Donta Scott hit a jumper, Cowan and Eric Ayala followed with layups and Cowan capped the 8-0 surge with two free throws.
Minutes later, Cowan drilled a 3-pointer and blocked a shot on the other end to set up a layup by Smith. Scott then turned an Indiana turnover into a fast-break dunk and Wiggins made two layups to cap the 11-0 run and make it 57-38 with 8 minutes to go.
“We just locked in,” Morsell said. “We limited them to one shot. We got out and ran, and we made great decisions on the break.”
The Terrapins got nine points from Morsell and eight from Smith in taking a 28-20 halftime lead.
Maryland missed 12 of its first 15 shots and trailed 16-11 before rattling off 11 straight points to take control. Indiana made only one basket over the final nine minutes of its lowest-scoring half of the season.
More Big Ten
No. 21 Penn State 89, No. 23 Iowa 86: Izaiah Brockington scored 23 points and Mike Watkins’ fast-break dunk with 1:42 left put No. 21 Penn State ahead to stay in a wild 89-86 win over No. 23 Iowa at the Palestra.
Penn State coach Pat Chambers might finally have a team he can take to the NCAA Tournament in his ninth season.
“Our vision has always been to be a Top 25 team, to find success and go to the NCAA Tournament consistently,” Chambers said.
Those goals have been a chore at dreary Bryce Jordan Center, Penn State’s on-campus arena that barely averaged an announced attendance of 10,000 fans last season. But 193 miles down the road at the Palestra, the heart of Philly hoops, the steamy gym was packed. Tickets on the secondary market were going for $150 a seat in the corners — or, “Corners! as it's known when the Palestra is sold out — and fans arrived early to walk the concourse that serves as much as a hall of fame as it does a stop for a $4 hot dog.
The floor temps hovered in the 80s and industrial fans were needed to cool the players.
“It felt like 120,” Chambers cracked.
Iowa couldn’t handle the heat down the stretch. Luka Garza scored 34 points for the Hawkeyes (10-4, 1-2 Big Ten), but he missed three crucial free throws in the waning moments.
Garza, who scored 44 points last month at Michigan, scored 12 straight points in one stretch in the first half but missed two foul shots with 3:21 left and Iowa clinging to a two-point lead.
Penn State supporters roared “We Are!” from the opening tip and the Palestra decibel meter hit 11 when Myreon Jones made a 3 for a late one-point lead. Garza went 1 of 2 from the line to even the score at 79-all. Watkins delivered for PSU with a go-ahead dunk before Lamar Stevens sealed it with a late layup — and his boasting howl.
Stevens and Jones each scored 16 points for the Nittany Lions (12-2, 2-1). Stevens sparked the idea of PSU making a return trip to Palestra. A graduate of Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic High School, Stevens badgered Chambers about playing a game at the Palestra before his career ended. He surely could not have imagined a showdown between two nationally ranked teams going basket-for-basket in front of a packed house once Iowa agreed to play in Philly.
“Playing in high school is great, but it’s nothing like coming back and playing in college,” Stevens said. “It’s just the environment and how loud the crowd gets. It’s mainly only Penn State in the gym, cheering for us.”
Penn State might want to petition to play all its Big Ten games at the Palestra. The Nittany Lions got the best of Iowa and coach Fran McCaffery, a former Penn standout who played home games at the Palestra.
Walk past the pictures of Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain in their high school uniforms, and there’s a photo of McCaffery in his No. 23 Penn jersey. The caption read, “Fran McCafferty, 1979-82, was integral in three Ivy League Championship titles for the Quakers.” McCaffery walked in the same concourse doors Saturday as fans and fist-bumped a row of black-and-gold wearing supporters. Yes, even an Ivy League school can’t ace spelling — there’s no T in McCaffery — and McCaffery left with another unwanted letter: an L.
“Everyone in the league is used to a hostile environment,” McCaffery said. “Loud, road situations. I think what made today so difficult is the heat.”