No. 17 Maryland gets another road test at Northwestern
No. 17 Maryland needs a road win, while struggling Northwestern just needs any win in Big Ten Conference play.
Something has to give Tuesday night in Evanston, Ill., when the Terrapins visit the Wildcats.
Maryland (14-4, 4-3 Big Ten) snapped a two-game losing streak Saturday with a 57-50 win over Purdue, flexing some defensive muscle and running the Terrapins home record to 11-0. But they're back on the road now where they are 0-4 on their opponents' home courts.
"We want to be a really good road team for the rest of the year," said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. "We know our schedule is extremely difficult on the road, but we want to be a really good road team so hopefully we can figure that out."
Northwestern has a lot to figure out. The young, banged-up Wildcats (6-11, 1-6) have lost seven of their last eight games, including Saturday's 75-71 setback at No. 24 Illinois. But coach Chris Collins' team seems to be getting closer in conference play. Two of their last three defeats have been by five points or less.
"We have a really good, young nucleus, everyone sees that," said Collins. "That's what's exciting, but when you're in the moment in the games as a competitor, you want to win now. I really like our young guys. I think our freshmen and sophomore classes are very talented. I like what we're building."
Collins is starting two freshmen and two sophomores and there have been inevitable growing pains, compounded by injuries, including the loss of guards Boo Buie and Anthony Gaines.
Sophomore forward Miller Kopp had 16 points at Illinois, his 13th game in double figures this season. He leads the team with 13.1 points per game, with grad student Pat Spencer (10.6 ppg) and 6-10 redshirt freshman Ryan Young (10.1) also in double figures. Sophomore forward Pete Nance adds 9.3 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds.
Young and the 6-10 Nance will have to contend with surging Maryland center Jalen Smith, who led the Terrapins past a powerful Purdue team with 18 points and 10 rebounds. It was his ninth double-double this season.
The 6-10 Smith, forced to play more center of late rather than his natural power forward spot, was terrific defensively against Boilermakers big men Trevion Williams and Matt Haarms. The Terrapins held Purdue without a field goal the final six minutes to earn the victory.
After a hot start, Maryland had cooled off and had to rely on that defense. Maryland's cumulative 41.3 percent shooting from the field is the worst mark in the Big Ten, and the squad's 30.6 percent shooting behind the arc is tied for third from the bottom. That marksmanship has contributed to Maryland's 0-4 road start.
The problem for Northwestern is that the Wildcats have the Big Ten's poorest rebounding team, with a deficit of more than 10 rebounds per game.
Northwestern will need to clamp down on guards Anthony Cowan Jr., Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins, and then keep Smith off the glass. He is fourth in the conference with 3.4 offensive boards per game.
Maryland stays on the road after this one, traveling to Indiana on Sunday. The Wildcats play host Ohio State on Sunday.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 20, 2020