Penn State faces big test vs. unbeaten No. 4 Maryland
The No. 4-ranked Maryland Terrapins will be searching for their 11th consecutive victory to open the season when they visit Penn State on Tuesday.
Maryland barely remained unbeaten following a 59-58 home win over Illinois on Saturday in its Big Ten opener. The Terrapins trailed by 15 points in the second half before rallying behind Anthony Cowan Jr., who tied the game with 19 seconds left and then made the winning free throw with 2.1 seconds remaining.
Cowan led the way with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Jalen Smith added 14 points and 13 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season.
The Terrapins have already matched their best start since winning 10 straight to open the 1998-99 season. But they've lost in three consecutive seasons to Penn State.
Though Maryland led for all of two seconds, it still managed to win again. Going on the road against a much-improved Penn State team will be another difficult challenge.
"In the end, it's a great win and we've got to enjoy it," Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. "But we've got to get our energy level back. We didn't have it today. Our defense carried us."
If the Terrapins hope to remain unbeaten, they'll have to play a much cleaner game against the Nittany Lions, who are tough to defeat at home.
"We were really selfish again -- overdribbling, some bad shots, trying to play hero ball, trying to be the guy that gets us going," Turgeon told the Baltimore Sun. "We got a ways to go. We got a long ways to go offensively. But it's nice when you can win miracle wins and learn from it, and hopefully, we'll learn from it and be better on Tuesday."
Penn State has won seven of its first nine games this season, but was throttled 106-74 at Ohio State in its conference opener.
Sophomore guard Izaiah Brockington scored a season-high 19 points and Lamar Stevens added 11. Freshman Seth Lundy had 10 off the bench for the Nittany Lions, who were outclassed from start to finish. Even though Penn State closed within 10 midway through the second half, it never looked as if a win was likely.
"Obviously, Ohio State played great," Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said following the 32-point loss. "They shot the ball really well in the second half. They have a lot of firepower, very explosive. I thought the second half we were playing much better, obviously, until Lamar picked up his fifth foul. And even so, those couple of minutes there, I thought we really competed, we did some good things. ... To be an elite team, to win versus top-10 teams, we are going to need everybody to play well."
Penn State will have another big test against Maryland with a chance for redemption. Unlike the loss against Ohio State, Penn State will now have the advantage of its home court.
"I think we're doing a good job of getting ourselves mentally and physically prepared to play these couple Big Ten games that are coming up here," Chambers said. "There are no easy wins in this conference. ... It's going to be a great litmus test of where we are and what we have to work on when you're playing a top team like Ohio State and Maryland. But we'll see where we are."
--Field Level Media
Updated December 9, 2019