Instant Reactions: Maryland 53, Tennessee 56

Maryland battled back down as many as 21 against Tennessee in the Barclays Center, but Tennessee held on in the final moments in a 56-53 loss. Maryland now falls to 8-2 (1-1) as they wrap up the tough home slate this week. Breaking down our instant reactions from Sunday night:

Foul Trouble, Poor Shooting Puts Maryland in Early Hole

Maryland struggled to find its offense through the first half as Tennessee led by double digits for roughly the last 15 minutes. Maryland would shoot just 12.5% in the first half, including 2-for-16 from deep, as the offense struggled to find its footing all night from deep. It didn’t help that Donta Scott picked up a pair of fouls within the first six minutes, only for Julian Reese to join him in foul trouble with two fouls as well. That sent Patrick Emilien into the game as the Vols emphasized the paint, outscoring Maryland 16-2 through the first twenty minutes. While Maryland looked outmatched against Tennessee’s length, Willard elected to keep his senior forward on the court while Reese sat on the bench for the final 11 minutes of the first half, but Jahmir Young and Hakim Hart would prove to be the only Terps to knock down at least one field goal through the first half. Tennessee didn’t exactly find much more success on offense despite eight different players scoring at least two points, but ten first half turnovers by Maryland proved to be costly as the Vols turned that into 12 points. As Willard adjusted given his team’s foul troubles, Maryland would enter the locker room doubled-up on the scoreboard with Tennessee in clear control, but that’d change soon.

Terps Mount Second-Half Comeback

Maryland opened the second half on a 4-0 run to provide a jolt of energy inside the Barclays Center, but Tennessee would respond to keep it a double-digit game. That was until Maryland’s relentless defense, especially in the post, helped turn the game around. Maryland’s fullcourt press forced Tennessee out of their rhythm as eight of the Vols’ 11 turnovers came in the final twenty minutes, a big reason why Maryland was able to get back into the game. Jahmir Young added 11 of his 18 points in the second half as he carved through the paint. As the Terps controlled the boards, a 15-6 run over a six-minute span brought it all the way back to single digits.

Maryland would make it a two-point game with 3:31 left after Ian Martinez split a pair of free throws, but Tennessee turned in another timely triple to give the Vols more breathing room on the ensuing possession. Hakim Hart knocked down a layup to make it a one-possession game with 32 seconds left in the game, but the Terps would have a chance to tie the game with less than 20 seconds left. But Jahmir Young’s floater rimmed out and the Volunteers split a pair of free throws to secure the win.

Next: Maryland returns to Xfinity Center to host UCLA on Wednesday at 9 PM.

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