Maryland leans on crowd, intensity in 64-58 win over Michigan

In what was a long awaited homecoming for Michigan big man and DMV native Hunter Dickinson, Maryland basketball used a riled up Xfinity Center crowd and a second half surge to a 64-58 victory over the Wolverines. 

The Terps (12-6, 3-4 Big Ten) came into Thursday’s game seeking revenge for the humiliating 81-46 loss they took at the hands of the Wolverines (10-8, 4-3 Big Ten) on New Years Day in Ann Arbor.

Dickinson – who is always animated on the court –  made headlines in previous years due to comments he made about former Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon. He had 32 points and 12 rebounds in the game on Jan. 1, as Michigan took a 17-0 first half lead and never looked back. On Thursday, as Don Carey’s three-pointer fell to give the Terps a 3-2 lead, any thoughts of another massive blowout were quickly forgotten.

Maryland continued its three-point shooting struggles in the first half on Thursday by going 2-10, but was able to combat this by attacking the rim. Jahmir Young once again led the scoring with 26 points, including 15 in the second half to pace the Terps.

“[Young] has just been so aggressive at getting in [the paint] to open up drive lanes for other guys,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said. “I think he has gotten comfortable with the length and size he has to go against every night.”

“I think he is playing as good as any player in the country right now,” he added.

Young did his work in the paint by capitalizing on switches and attacking Dickinson off the dribble. It was clear that one of the major keys to Maryland’s game plan was to drive at Dickinson to potentially get him in foul trouble.

Dickinson still produced for Michigan, scoring 19 points – including 3-5 from three-point range – while chipping in 10 rebounds.

Defensively, Maryland constantly double-teamed Dickinson to get the ball out of his hands and force others to score. This helped minimize his ability to rebound and forced him to do his damage from the perimeter.

Maryland’s lack of size has been evident against formidable opposing front courts all season, but was completely exposed in the first matchup against Michigan. A recurring theme that has plagued this Maryland team is its lack of rebounding when starting big man Julian Reese has to sit. 

Looking to change this on Thursday – as the Terps were once again without forward Patrick Emilien due to injury – Willard was forced to thrust freshman center Caelum Swanton-Rodger into the game to spell Reese and provide an interior spark.

Swanton-Rodger entered the game and immediately made an impact, making a contested layup and grabbing three rebounds. He followed that up with a ferocious two-handed slam over Dickinson, which sent the Xfinity Center into a frenzy.

Willard called Swanton-Rodger’s seven minutes the best minutes they have had all season.

“Just being big and physical in there and making it as tough for Hunter [Dickinson] as possible,” he said. “He’s progressing nicely.”

Maryland shot over 42% in the first half to get out to a solid lead, but cooled down in the final minutes and allowed Michigan to find its footing.

Where Michigan gained its ground in the first half was through three-point shooting. The Wolverines went 6-13 from beyond the arc to claw themselves out of what once was a 13-point hole. Michigan ended the half by making six of their last eight field goals, which coincided with a nearly four-minute Maryland scoring drought and cut the lead to two at the break.

A slower, back-and-forth second half saw Maryland eventually pull away. A basket by Tarris Reed Jr. at the 11:09 mark knotted the game at 44, but that was the closest Michigan was the rest of the way.

Free throw shooting was key down the stretch, as the Terps went cold offensively and did not score a field goal in the final four-plus minutes of the game.

Aside from Young, Maryland’s scoring was balanced. Where they thrived offensively was in the paint, outscoring Michigan 42-22 on the interior as they nearly abandoned the three-point shot in the second half, only attempting five.

Hakim Hart added 10 points on 4-8 shooting and was active defensively, finishing with two steals.

Turnovers have been an issue for the Terps in previous games, but their ball control was at a premium on Thursday as they turned it over only six times.

With a matchup against Purdue and National Player of the Year candidate Zach Edey looming on Sunday, Maryland will need another strong interior effort if they want to continue their success.

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