Instant Reactions: Maryland 88, Minnesota 70

After a disappointing road loss to wrap up the weekend, Maryland basketball responded in their first game back in Xfinity Center.

Maryland dominated Minnesota for 40 minutes en route to a 88-70 win that was decided early in the second half. Wednesday night’s win gave Maryland (19-9, 10-7 Big Ten) their eighth quadrant four win of the season as the Terps are now tied with No. 17 Indiana Hoosiers for third in the Big Ten with three games left in the regular season.

They faced a much different Minnesota Golden Gophers squad with forward Dawson Garcia back in the lineup. He didn’t waste any time putting points on the board for Minnesota. He scored the game’s first bucket and showed his shooting range with a nice three-pointer from the top of the perimeter to give the Golden Gophers a 9-8 lead.

Maryland basketball withstands Minnesota’s hot start

Garcia made his presence felt right away in this game. He had help from Jaden Henley who drove to the basket early and often, which put pressure on the Terps front court. Ta’lon Cooper made some nice passes to feed his teammates the ball for scoring opportunities. The Golden Gophers went on a 7-0 run midway through the first half, taking the ball inside and pressuring the basketball defensively.

Their momentum came to a halt after a Jahmir Young three and Ian Martinez layup tied the game up at 13. Everything changed after the nine-minute mark. The Terps blew the game wide open with a 27-10 run to end the half with a 47-30. They made their living with dribble penetration and tough post-play that allowed them to use their full-court press on the other end.

Donta Scott and Hakim Hart had the hot hand combining for 28 of their 47 points. Scott found his rhythm getting shots inside and from the perimeter. He picked and chose his spots well to make big shots.

The Terps shot their best field goal percentage in the first half at 73 percent since 2017 against Illinois. Their three-point shooting percentage was even better at 80 percent.

The Terps play stout defense 

While the Gophers set the tone for much of the first half, the Terps owned the turnover battle. They forced 11 Golden Gopher turnovers and scored 23 points off of them. That’s exactly what you want. When a team’s defense creates offense in transition, that goes a long way toward building and keeping momentum.

Jamison Battle scored 39 points against the Terps last year and had a career day against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Monday with a 31-point performance. He was shut out in the first half Wednesday night, but would finish the game with eight points.

The Terps got everything they wanted in the paint against Minnesota

Julian Reese couldn’t be stopped in the pick-and-roll action. He was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field with 14 points and six rebounds under 12 minutes left in the game. The Terps continued to feed Scott and Reese in the post because the Golden Gophers couldn’t stop it.

While the points in the paint battle remained close throughout, the Terps still made things look easy with their paint touches. Whether it was a fast break opportunity off a turnover, a straight-up post play, or a dribble drive, the Terps showed they were clearly the better and more physical team.

Pharrel Payne was a major bright spot for the Golden Gophers. Every time he got the ball, he made a play. Despite fouling out of the game, he scored a team-high 17 points and secured four rebounds. Payne has the potential to be a top big man in the conference if his game continues to grow. It’s not hard to be impressed with his game, even in a blowout loss.

Henley finished with 14 points and will be another key piece for the Golden Gophers moving forward. The Golden Gophers have a young team, and their inexperience showed against a very talented and experienced Terps squad.

Five players scored in double figures as Reese led the way with 21 points and 12 rebounds. They continue their winning ways in College Park. The Terps are now 15-1 at home this season and still haven’t lost a conference game in the Xfinity Center. They’ll take on a No. 21 Northwestern Wildcats team on Sunday that’s playing winning basketball right now. They are winners of five straight, led by Boo Buie.

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