Preview: Maryland basketball looks to stay hot vs Michigan State

Maryland (16-7, 7-5) vs. Michigan State (14-9, 6-6)

When & Where: Tuesday, Feb. 7 @ 9 PM, Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI

Radio: 980AM (DC); 105.7 FM (Baltimore)

Odds: Maryland +3.5; O/U: 132

Maryland basketball (16-7, 7-5 Big Ten) is surging at the right time. They’ve won four straight games and look to make it five with a win at the Breslin Center against the Michigan State Spartans (14-9, 6-6 Big Ten) on Tuesday. They will be entering another hostile environment and the Spartans have extra motivation to get a win having lost their last two games.

The Terps put on a clinic in their 81-46 blowout of the Minnesota Golden Gophers Saturday night. They got out to a fast start, knocking down shots from long range and taking it to the Golden Gophers in the paint. That allowed the Terps to put pressure on them defensively. Hot shooting combined with solid defense is going to win games a vast majority of the time.

The big surprise, however, was how well the Terps took care of the basketball. They had only had five turnovers in that game and caused 16 Golden Gopher turnovers.

Now they’re facing a Michigan State team looking for a big win to get them back on track. Against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers, they struggled to assert their dominance inside the paint. Grant it, they did go up against two of the best big men in the conference, Clifford Omoruyi and Zach Edey, respectively.

Guards Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard, and Forward Joey Hauser are the Spartans’ leading scorers. Walker and Hoggard are slashers who can get to the rim with ease and score from the perimeter. Hauser can do that, and he is the team’s leading rebounder with seven per game.

The Terps can win this game if they’re aggressive when attacking the basket. Getting to the line 24 times as they did against Minnesota means that they made their presence felt and got the opponent into foul trouble. That will go a long way on the road. It’s important that they make shots early and often though to quiet the raucous Breslin Center crowd.

The three guys who can wear down an opposing defense the best are Jahmir Young, Donta Scott, and Julian Reese. Young has been a guy who has hurt teams shooting from every area of the floor, he’s the team’s third-leading rebounder and has recently picked up his intensity and production on the defensive end.

While Scott’s three-point shooting hasn’t been the best we’ve seen this season, he has made plenty of plays in the post and been a physical presence on the boards. Reese has made a big jump under Kevin Willard this season, and we’re seeing him hit his stride when it matters most toward the end of the season.

After scoring 19 points against Purdue, he’s had 14, 10, and 16-point games. His maturation has been fun to watch. The only knock on him is the foul trouble situation. Willard has said on many occasions that he trusts Reese to be effective with multiple fouls. He has all the confidence that this team can succeed, and they’ve shown it when it matters.

Maryland basketball takes on Michigan State at 9 p.m. Tuesday night on ESPN 2.

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