Instant Reactions: Maryland 79, Louisville 54

Maryland caught fire early and never looked as they lead for 39 of the 40 minutes on Tuesday night, cruising to a 79-54 win at Louisville in the final ACC/Big Ten matchup. Breaking down the Terps’ win as Maryland and head coach Kevin Willard move to 7-0 with conference play ahead.

Three-Point Shooting Catches Fire

A big reason why Maryland was able to control the game was its three-point shooting, finishing 9-of-24 and led by Donta Scott. Jahmir Young opened the game with a triple, the first of seven points through the opening minutes. It helped that Maryland shot over 50% from the floor in the win, but the perimeter shooting helped the team build an early double-digit lead and maintain it. But it was Donta Scott who led the way as he finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 29 minutes, including 50% shooting from deep. The assertive, yet versatile forward had no problems finding his offense inside and out despite the length that the Cardinals posed. Scott was one of two in double figures tonight with Jahmir Young’s 15 points (6-of-10) chipping away at the Cardinals’ backcourt.

Maryland was without redshirt freshman Ike Cornish (illness), but the rotation was able to flow as usual with Ian Martinez flashing with his outside touch and reminding fans of his athleticism around the rim, flushing a thundering dunk in the second half. All in all, seven different players scored in the nine-man rotation as Maryland shot exactly 50% in the win, including 53.8% in the second half.

Domination For Nearly 40 Minutes

Head coach Kevin Willard hinted that his team was prepared for Tuesday’s matchup and after tipoff, the squad showed exactly that. Maryland jumped out to an early 9-2 lead to take early control of the game and hovered around a double-digit lead through the remainder of the first half. The hot shooting helped Maryland push that lead to 20 points and lead by as many as 33 points on Tuesday night, but the bounce back after the scoring lull midway through the first half proved to be another point of confidence in the current Terps’ roster.

After Jahmir Young’s layup pushed Maryland ahead 23-10 with 9:47 left, Maryland went nearly three minutes without a bucket to allow Louisville to trim the lead under ten points. After Donta Scott ended the scoring drought with a triple to push the lead back to double-digits, Maryland would find its offense once more to push the lead to 11 at the break. The offense showed no signs of slowing down in the second half with the first five made buckets coming from beyond the arc, pushing the lead to 20 points, while the defense shut down Louisville.

Louisville produced just one double-digit scorer with El Ellis (15 pts) leading the way, but the team shot just 33.9% in the game including 25% from deep. While the Cardinals largely struggled to find open looks, a big catalyst for that was Maryland’s timely defensive switches and having a presence in the paint to contest Louisville’s shots. That helped Maryland win the battle on the boards, 38-33.

If there’s one concern from Tuesday night’s win, it’s free throw shooting as the team finished just 14-of-25 from the line including 8-of-16 in the second half.

While it was the first true road test for Maryland basketball, it was the latest performance that reassures confidence in Kevin Willard’s fit as Maryland basketball’s head coach.

Next: Maryland will host Illinois on Friday night for a 9 PM tipoff.

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