It’s a big return to Big Ten action, though recent results have taken a little luster off Saturday’s Big Ten Conference contest at Maryland. Indiana rolls into town to meet the No. 15 Terrapins in College Park, Md., in a matchup of two 11-win teams.
The Hoosiers (11-2, 1-1) dropped a tough 71-64 game at home to Arkansas on Sunday to miss a chance at an undefeated non-conference slate. Maryland (11-2, 1-1) was ranked as high as No. 3, early last month before dropping back-to-back games at Penn State and Seton Hall. The Terrapins bounced back Sunday with an 84-70 home win over Bryant.
It’s all Big Ten Conference basketball on the schedule from here, and with the untimely setbacks, this game might just be actually more important for both teams now.
“We’re getting better, right now it’s hard because we’ve had two games (the last 11 days),” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “(We) had finals and Christmas break. Indiana is going to come in the same way. We continue to learn about our team. This week we’ve gotten a lot better in practice.”
The Terrapins, second in the Big Ten preseason poll, took a hit when 6-foot-10 freshmen twins Makhi and Makhel Mitchell announced plans to transfer on Dec. 27. Turgeon’s frontline depth diminished, though the return of 7-2 freshman Chol Marial from stress fracture surgery gave the team a lift Sunday. Marial had six points and five rebounds, delighting the crowd with a couple of dunks and a blocked shot in his first 14 minutes of college action.
Maryland also still has senior All-America point guard Anthony Cowan and his 16.7 points and 4.1 assists, and sophomore forward Jalen Smith, who leads the Big Ten with eight double-doubles, averaging 13.1 points and 10.1 rebounds. The Terrapins won their first 10 games.
The Hoosiers rang up eight straight victories against a light early non-conference slate before falling at Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener. Indiana has now won three of the last four, though all have been tight games. Freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis has emerged as one of the top first-year big men in the country, averaging 15.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and shooting 66 percent.
The 6-9 forward had 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting against Arkansas, but the Hoosiers got away from him in the second half, the entire offense falling apart. Indiana settled for jump shots and ended up just 5-for-21 from 3-point range. The Hoosiers are just 17-of-76 (22 percent) from behind the arc the last four games, a disappointing effort and the kind that helped sabotage coach Archie Miller’s team last season, too.
“Not being able to run good offense, get the ball inside, be able to play downhill and play out of the post was a big deal late in the second half,” Miller said after the loss to Arkansas at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. “Then we’ve got to step up and make some shots. We had some good ones in the game that didn’t go in. Devonte (Green) ends up making four of the five threes.”
Green, a senior guard, is second on the team with 12.5 points for a team receiving votes in the national polls. The Terrapins have played more zone this year so look for them to sag back into the paint, surround Jackson-Davis, and force Indiana to make some longer shots.
Following this game, Maryland heads to Ohio State, ranked second this week, but due to drop after falling to West Virginia. That game is Tuesday, Jan. 7. The Hoosiers host Northwestern on Jan. 8.
–Field Level Media