Preview: Maryland basketball looks to build momentum vs. Iowa

Maryland basketball (11-5, 2-3 Big Ten) got a much-needed victory against the Ohio State Buckeyes last Sunday. It’s Jahmir Young’s world, and Terps fans are just living in it. He put up 30 points and 11 rebounds in the Terps’ 80-73 victory, followed by Hakim Hart’s 12 points and seven rebounds and Julian Reese’s 10 points and eight rebounds.

The Terps’ were much more aggressive when getting points in the paint. That paid dividends, as they had a 34-22 advantage in that category. It’s always a good sign that a team is going to win a game when they rebound the ball well; a 40-26 advantage tells you all you need to know there.

Where the Maryland basketball schedule is concerned, it’s going to be much more condensed moving forward. They were able to rest a couple of days this week and get back into their normal practice schedule later on. They went through a gauntlet-like non-conference schedule and struggled a bit to start Big Ten play after their first win against the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Now they’re back on the road again to face a surging Iowa Hawkeyes team (11-6, 3-3 Big Ten) that has won three straight games, including a 93-84 overtime win over the Michigan Wolverines. The Hawkeyes are led by forwards Kris Murry (21.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg), Filip Rebraca (14.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg), and Patrick McCaffery (12.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg). Each of them presents different challenges, and Maryland basketball gave some insight into what makes Murry so special.

“I think what makes Kris so difficult to guard is because they play fast. Then, in the half court, it’s much more of a motion offense instead of a set-play offense. He has such a good feel for the game. He moves without the ball and I think he’s really starting to shoot the ball at a high level,” Willard said. “The fact that they’re playing as fast as they play, and I think he knows their system. He moves in their system [and] he’s constantly moving. So it’s not just hey, he’s right here. This is what he’s gonna do, and he’s starting to shoot the basketball much better.”

Something to note about Rebraca is that he may be undersized at 6-foot-9, but he has a high motor on both ends of the floor, is physical on the boards, and has good post presence.

“I do think Rebraca is playing at an extremely high level. They are really working inside and out through him. I think he’s been a difference-maker. I think he’s gotten a little bit more involved in the offense, not just scoring, but he’s passing really well out of the post. He’s got 33 assists in 16 games, so when it goes in there, he’s able to kick it back out,” Willard said about the fifth-year senior.

Willard believes transition defense is going to be a key factor against the Hawkeyes.

The biggest challenge with transition defense. They play at a much faster pace at home than they do on the road. If [you] look at the Rutgers game, They really slowed it down at times against Rutgers and [ground] them out and at home, they really get up and down at home, and really, it’s a fun way to play. I think Fran [McCaffery] always has played that way. So I think getting back, limiting their second shots, and making them try to score against us in the half court.”

Maryland basketball will take the court against the Hawkeyes Sunday, at 4:30 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network.

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