No. 9 Michigan, No. 17 Maryland clash in Big Ten
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
No. 9 Michigan travels to No. 17 Maryland on Sunday, with both teams looking for answers as the curtain begins to come down on the regular season.
The Wolverines (25-4, 14-4 Big Ten) had lost two of their previous four games before a convincing 82-53 win over Nebraska on Thursday in their home finale. The Terrapins (21-8, 12-6) lost 78-61 at Penn State on Wednesday in a game in which they were never competitive.
Maryland might have bigger questions coming down the stretch as it battles for the fourth and final double-bye for the Big Ten tournament.
"We're 21-8, we've had a heck of a year," Turgeon said after Wednesday's lost.
"Hopefully this wakes us up a little bit, and it'll be nice to go home. That's eight of 11 on the road for us. That's hard, man. It's hard. So we have the last two at home (including Friday against Minnesota), get some time to practice and get ready for the postseason, but my guys have responded all year."
The Wolverines, who lost 77-70 at home to rival Michigan State last Sunday, responded against Nebraska with their best offensive showing (82 points) since an 89-78 victory over South Carolina on Dec. 8. Center Jon Teske had 22 points and 10 rebounds; freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis scored 20.
The Wolverines were 12 of 22 behind the arc against Nebraska and took care of the ball, as guards Jordan Poole and Zavier Simpson combined for 15 assists and four turnovers.
"I really loved the way Jordan and Zavier responded," said Michigan coach John Beilein.
"They didn't have to shoot the ball to make us win. The ball moved. We could see (Wednesday) in practice; we could see the ball moved. It didn't stick as it has in some games, and that's how you score 80 points."
Michigan also flexed some muscle with new depth. Isaiah Livers, usually the primary backup at all the front-line positions, started and had 12 points vs. Nebraska. Little-used Colin Castleton had 11 points in nine minutes and might give Beilein another useful piece as the games grow more important.
The Terrapins are ranked among national leaders in field goal percentage defense (39.5 percent) and have been one of the top rebounding teams in the nation, leading the Big Ten with a plus-9.1 margin.
Sophomore forward Bruno Fernando averages a double-double with 14.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, shooting 64.7 percent from the field. Junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. leads the team with 15.9 points and 4.4 assists per game. Cowan has been Maryland's best player lately, averaging 17 points and shooting 47 percent over the last three games.
Maryland played so poorly for long stretches of the loss at Penn State that Turgeon resorted to hockey-like "line changes" in the second half, putting in five new players at one time.
"I was just trying to find somebody that was going to play hard and play with a little energy in the game," he said.
"We worked on a few things in the second half. We treated it like a practice, basically. At the 15-minute mark I was like, OK, we don't have it tonight, let's treat the next 15 minutes as a practice, try to get better. And I think we did that."
The Wolverines, following their only game against Maryland this season, close out the regular season with a rematch at Michigan State on Saturday.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 3, 2019