Kevin Willard Acknowledges Road Woes Following Maryland’s Loss at Rutgers

Another slow start and turnovers doomed Maryland on Thursday night as the hill was too tall to climb, leaving the Terps with their third Big Ten loss of the season in a 64-50 contest at Rutgers.

Maryland scored the first four points of the game but Rutgers responded with a 15-0 run that spanned nearly nine minutes as they took an 11-point deficit into halftime. Maryland was able to cut the lead to as little as four but struggled to get over the hurdle as head coach Kevin Willard guides his team through the latest struggles. “They’re working hard, they’re getting good looks, they’re good offensive players. This is the first time these guys have gone through this, being on the road and being on the road again, battling tough crowds. I think that’s what’s great about this league is that every night there’s a great crowd,” Willard added. “I have the utmost confidence in these guys. We’ll get it going offensively; I’m not worried about that.”

The loss comes just days after a 35-point loss to Michigan as Willard noted his team’s renewed focus ahead of Rutgers. “We played absolutely horrible, as bad as you can play at Michigan. I challenged them. They came into practice, Jahmir [Young], Don [Carey], these two guys, such great leaders the last two days.” But still, it wasn’t enough for Maryland to get back in the win column.

Aside from Maryland shooting 25% from the field in the first half, along with 3-of-14 from three, Maryland finished with a season-high 20 turnovers as Rutgers’ swarming defense, whether it was the fullcourt or halfcourt press, gave the Terps’ backcourt fits all night. “The pressing has changed them from a halfcourt team that you really knew what was coming at all time, and that you were gonna have to score to a team that now it’s a special preparation to [face] in this building,” Willard added.

The Terps showed signs of life after cutting it to four five minutes into the second half, but a flagarant on Julian Reese shifted the momentum once again as Rutgers quickly regained its double digit lead.

Though it isn’t the first time this season, Thursday marked the first career start for freshman forward Noah Batchelor as Don Carey was used as a spark off the bench. “It is an advantage coming off the bench sometimes. You get to gauge and see the atmosphere and see where the energy needs to go on the court and what I need to provide for my teammates,” Carey added postgame.

The Terps will return home to host No. 24 Ohio State on Sunday, Jan. 8 at 1 p.m. The game will be on ESPN and the Maryland Sports Radio Network.

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