Can No. 13 Maryland get back on track vs. upstart Bryant?
After a 10-0 start, Maryland has dropped two straight and slid from a high of No. 3 in the rankings to No. 13.
Now the Terrapins look to close out 2019 by beginning a turnaround they hope stretches well into 2020 when they host Bryant at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md., on Sunday.
The Terps have been on a bit of an odd schedule recently. They suffered their first loss of the season to Penn State on Dec. 10, then didn't play again until meeting Seton Hall nine days later. Despite missing their top two scorers in that game, the Pirates controlled the pace and won 52-48.
Now Maryland (10-2, 1-1 Big Ten) will have another nine days off before the Bryant game, giving the Terps time to work on the problems that showed up on offense.
Maryland simply didn't shoot well against Seton Hall and did not play good basketball overall, and coach Mark Turgeon was not pleased with what he saw.
"Sometimes you've got to hit rock bottom," he told The Baltimore Sun. "I don't know if it is rock bottom. We'll see. But if it is, then maybe we'll come back and be a little bit better after Christmas."
Anthony Cowan Jr. led Maryland against the Pirates with 16 points and pushed a late-game run. However, Cowan made just 3 of 14 shots from the field -- all 3-pointers -- and never found his way.
Aaron Wiggins and Jalen Smith both added 11 points apiece as that trio combined for all but 10 of the Terrapins' points.
Maryland has struggled with slow starts this season, and that's something the Terrapins certainly want to get away from. Against Seton Hall, Maryland did not even reach 10 points until a Cowan free throw with 2:46 left in the first half. Slow starts will be a problem if they continue, especially against stronger Big Ten opponents.
Bryant, meanwhile, is coming in on a roll. The Bulldogs are 8-4 and have won four in a row. And there's plenty to play for Sunday.
A win against the Terrapins would be the program's first against a ranked opponent and first against a Big Ten opponent, and would mark their longest winning streak since winning eight in a row during the 2012-13 season.
This will be just the second time these two teams have met, with Maryland winning 72-51 in 2008-09, Bryant's first season as a Division I program.
Bryant is coming off of a 64-60 victory over Dartmouth last Saturday during which the Bulldogs made coach Jared Grasso a happy man with their defense against the Big Green.
"I'm proud of our guys' toughness and grit in the second half," Grasso said on the team's site. "I thought we shared the ball and got good looks on the offensive end. It's a testament to our guys' defensive effort to hold a really good offensive team to 29 percent shooting in the second half."
The Bulldogs finished with four players in double figures. Ikenna Ndugba paced Bryant with 14 points and five assists.
Adam Grant is one of two Bulldogs who average in double figures, and he leads the team in scoring with 18.5 points per game. Charles Pride is next with 11.4 points per game as the Bulldogs are averaging 74.3 points per game so far this season.
--Field Level Media
Updated December 28, 2019