Maryland outlasts Indiana 66-55 for third straight win

As January comes to a close, so does a grueling portion of the schedule for Maryland basketball that saw them salvage five wins over a nine-game stretch. The Terps ended the month on a high note, defeating No. 21 Indiana, 66-55, on Tuesday night in College Park for their third consecutive victory.

The always-exciting 2002 National Championship rematch ended the same way it did on that April night in Atlanta, with the Terps claiming victory over the Hoosiers.

Though the stakes weren’t as high in this one, there is no doubting the electricity that radiated throughout the Xfinity Center as the Terps used a late first-half surge to take the lead and never look back.

“I thought both teams were great defensively tonight. It was a really physical battle, a typical conference game in February,” head coach Kevin Willard said following the win. “Loved the effort. I thought our double-teams were really great, and I thought their defense was just as good. It was a really well-played defensive game on both sides.” 

Once again leading the way for Maryland was Jahmir Young.

When Young arrived at Maryland, he was a proven combo-guard that Willard knew had the potential to transform into an all-around playmaking point guard in the Big Ten. Tuesday’s performance against Indiana put to rest any doubts of this not being the case.

Young established himself early, scoring 13 of Maryland’s 37 first half points, but what impressed Willard was the defensive effort on Jalen Hood-Schifino, which was key to the Hoosiers’ scoring struggles.

“I think sometimes, especially freshman, [it is] the first time you’ve really seen a real press,” Willard said. “It didn’t let him get into a rhythm … so I thought the press was really effective in helping take a freshman kind of out of a rhythm.”

After a 24-point performance on Saturday in Indiana’s win over Ohio State, Hood-Schifino scored only three points on 1-14 shooting and struggled to get anything going offensively as he was constantly hounded by Young and company. 

“Just trying to make [Hood-Schifino] take tough two’s,” Young said. “He’s a great player … highly recruited coming out, so just trying to win the matchup myself and really just trying to go at him [was key].”

Despite his offensive struggles, Indiana jumped out to an early 22-15 lead as Maryland made only one of its first 10 three-pointers and couldn’t get into any real scoring rhythm.

A Donta Scott three broke the seal and gave the Terps some life and they capitalized, locking in on the defensive end and forcing seven Indiana turnovers, using a 9-0 run to surge ahead and take a 37-29 lead into halftime. The Hoosiers missed six of their last seven shots of the half.

Aside from the guard matchup, many eyes focused on the frontcourt battle between Maryland’s Julian Reese and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Jackson-Davis – who earlier in the week Willard called “the best player in the country right now”  – finished with 18 points and 20 rebounds and did his best to keep the Hoosiers within striking distance. 

Matching up against him, Reese held his own, securing a double-double against one of the Big Ten’s best.

“I thought he was awesome, man,” Willard said of Reese’s performance. “I think Julian Reese is slowly turning into just a big time player. To sit there and battle the bigs he’s had to battle for the last five games  … [it] just shows you how far Julian’s come.”

The Hoosiers scored the first six points after the halftime break, looking much like the team that began the season 7-0 and held a top-10 ranking in the country.

Momentum soon swung back towards Maryland, as Ian Martinez was fouled hard by Tamar Bates on a fast-break layup attempt after a steal. Martinez connected on both free throws and – due to the intentional foul – the Terps gained possession and a Reese layup made it 43-37.

Despite shooting only 32% in the second half, Maryland maintained a steady lead throughout by attacking the basket and forcing Indiana to foul. The Terps shot 12-14 from the free throw line in the second half.

A Jackson-Davis inspired 7-0 Indiana run cut the lead to five, but baskets from Scott and Reese pushed Maryland’s lead to double digits with two minutes to play. A final Scott bucket sealed it as the Terps took the 11-point win.

Willard credits the controlled pace down the stretch and his team using as much clock as possible.

“I thought we had two really big offensive rebounds that keep the possessions alive,” he said. “In a close game … just getting 40 seconds off the clock … the next thing you know there is only three minutes left.”

Maryland moves to 6-5 in Big Ten play, having won each game at the Xfinity Center. They are the only team to be undefeated on their home court in the conference. The Terps travel to Minnesota on Saturday and battle Michigan State next Tuesday in hopes of capturing their first road wins in Big Ten play.

“We’ve got to figure out how to win on the road,” Willard said. “We’ve got to bring our defensive intensity, it’s got to travel with us.”

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