Preview: Maryland basketball heads back home to play Penn State

Penn State (14-10, 5-8) vs. Maryland (16-8, 7-6)

Where: Xfinity Center

When: February 11 @ 12 PM

TV: BTN – Brandin Gaudin (pxp), Len Elmore (analyst)

Spread: Maryland -8.5

Maryland basketball (16-8, 7-6 Big Ten) enters the home stretch of the season with a chance to get back on track in Saturday’s matchup with the Penn State Nittany Lions (14-10, 5-8 Big Ten).

Maryland will look to move to 10-2 at home against Penn State all-time in Willard’s second-ever matchup against the Nittany Lions.

In the tough loss against Michigan State Spartans (15-9, 7-6 Big Ten), the Terps struggled mightily from the perimeter, shooting just 3-for-22, and it didn’t help matters that they had 15 unanswered points scored on them to start the game. As we see all the time in college basketball, teams usually settle in 10 minutes or so into the first half and that’s exactly what happened with Maryland basketball. They found themselves down nine points, 31-22, and later went on to tie the game with 13 minutes or so in the second half. Despite the loss, we continue to see how resilient this team is when faced with adversity.

Moving onto Penn State, the Nittany Lions are led by Jalen Pickett, Seth Lundy, and Andrew Funk who are averaging 17, 14, and 12 points per game, respectively. Pickett and Lundy are the team’s leading rebounders. Pickett is their best player, and he can do it all. He scores, rebounds, and assists at a high level, which is why he was named to the Naismith Player of the Year Midseason Team. “I think Jaylen Pickett is probably as effective as a player as I’ve seen from the guard position in a really long time. Shooting percentage, assist-turnover ratio, the way he posts up and takes his time and finds everybody, Micah [Shrewsberry] runs good stuff for him,” Willard added. “They have shooters around them, but he is as efficient as a player for the minutes he’s logging.”

Speaking of shooters, Maryland also can’t forget about Myles Dread and what he brings to the table. The senior guard has yet to eclipse ten points per game through his five seasons thus far, but enters the matchup as a key piece in the rotation averaging 5.9 points in 21.8 minutes. While he’s shooting 37.8% from deep, the Nittany Lions have four players who shoot over 40% from deep and enter Saturday leading the Big Ten shooting 38.4% from deep as a team.

The Terps can attack the Nittany Lions with good ball movement in the half-court. Perimeter shooting has not been their strong suit, so leaning on that heavily wouldn’t be wise. Julian Reese could have a favorable matchup inside against senior forward Michael Henn, who has been part of the Nittany Lions’ rotation to solve their issues at center. The sophomore big man has finished in double figures in 12 games this season and after asserting himself against the nation’s best big men in Zach Edey and Trayce Jackson-Davis, Maryland will have an opportunity to control the paint like they did against Minnesota, Nebraska and Indiana.

After playing the entire second half against the Spartans on Tuesday night, Ian Martinez has been the spark off the bench that they needed all season with his perimeter shooting and defensive tenacity. But Willard said he’s going with his normal lineup, meaning Don Carey is back into the starting rotation. “Don [is] still my starter,” he added.

Maryland basketball fans can catch this game on the Big Ten Network at noon.

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