When we last saw Maryland and Indiana share a basketball court, Jalen Smith went off for 29 points — and savored his role of Bloomington Bad Guy — Anthony Cowan added 18 points and Darryl Morsell posted 10 for the Terps, who claimed their first victory at Assembly Hall since 2009.
That trio accounted for 74% of Maryland’s production in its one-point win last January. Now, Smith is in the NBA, Cowan is gone and Morsell is nursing an injury that will keep him in street clothes for the next couple weeks. So what can Indiana expect from Mark Turgeon’s group on Monday night?
Glad you asked!
During his 10-year run in College Park, Turgeon has developed a reputation as a good recruiter and fine coach, but one who struggles to win big games and get his program into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Maryland has advanced to only one Sweet 16 in Turgeon’s decade guiding the Terps, though it felt like he had a team capable of getting there before last season’s abrupt ending. Without Smith and Cowan in the lineup, hopes are tempered in 2021 for Maryland, which was picked to finish 10th in The Athletic’s official unofficial Big Ten media poll. That’s two spots behind IU.
The first month of the season went about as expected for the Terps, who sandwiched a bunch of soft non-conference wins around a four-point loss at Clemson in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Then, just last week, Maryland claimed one of the early surprise wins of Big Ten season, knocking off Wisconsin in a six-point victory in Madison. The Terps are right in the middle of a tough, five-game stretch that includes games against four ranked opponents. So far, they’re 1-1.
Junior guard Eric Ayala took over in the Wisconsin game, scoring each of his team-high 17 points in the second half. The former IU recruiting target has been Maryland’s best player, pacing the Terps in points (14.8 per game), free throw percentage (86%), and minutes per game (31.5). He’s been helped by the emergence of 6-foot-7 forward Donta Scott, who is averaging 14.9 points and shooting 59% from 3-point range. He set an Xfinity Center record in Maryland’s loss to Michigan on New Year’s Eve, hitting all five of his 3-point attempts. Scott can do a lot, a versatile sophomore who’s shown he can fill a few different roles while he’s on the floor. He also leads Maryland at 6.8 rebounds per contest. Junior wing Aaron Wiggins, last season’s Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year, has been a bit inconsistent as a starter so far. Wiggins is capable of hitting big shots — you may recall his clutch 3-pointer toward the end of last year’s Maryland win in Bloomington — but he’s been hot and cold through the first 10 games.
Maryland has two other players worth keeping an eye on during Monday’s matchup: sophomore guard Hakim Hart (we’ll touch on him below) and junior forward Jairus Hamilton. A transfer from Boston College, Hamilton has proved to be a nice addition to the rotation. He’s coming off a 15-point effort against Michigan, hitting three of his five 3-point attempts and supplying Maryland with some needed secondary production.
It’s also worth noting that, in all six of its victories this season, Maryland has won the battle on the glass. Going back to last season, the Terps have won 15 consecutive games in which they’ve been ahead in the rebounding column.
Things to watch
No Morsell for Maryland
The Terps will be playing this game short-handed after senior guard Darryl Morsell suffered a fractured bone in his face in the Michigan game. Morsell’s never been much of an offensive threat, but he has been one of the toughest defensive guards in the Big Ten over the past couple seasons. Maryland will certainly miss that with Morsell expected to miss approximately two weeks. In his place, Turgeon is turning to sophomore Hakim Hart. The 6-foot-6 guard has already been playing meaningful minutes despite coming off the bench in eight games. His high-water mark came against Saint Peter’s on Dec. 4, when he scored 32 points on 11-of-13 shooting.
Getting back to the defensive standard
Indiana’s defense hasn’t been anything special since the Hoosiers shifted to conference play. After IU held each of its first seven opponents under a point per possession, Northwestern, Illinois and Penn State all managed to score more than a point per. Though it’s a small sample size, those three league teams combined for a 56.8 effective field goal percentage against IU, the third-worst mark in conference play so far.
How will Durham & Phinisee respond?
Indiana made the Penn State game much more difficult than it should have been, but there were a couple bright spots. Namely, the production of Al Durham and Rob Phinisee. The two veteran guards combined for 29 points, with Phinisee drilling the game-winning jumper in overtime. Hopefully for his sake, Phinisee is figuring out what he needs to do to be successful at this point in his career because Indiana is desperate for consistency and production at the point guard spot. We’ll see if there’s any carryover.
Game Info / How to Watch
Who? Maryland (6-4, 1-3) at Indiana (6-4, 1-2)
Where? Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
When? Monday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Channel? BTN | Kevin Kugler (p-b-p), Stephen Bardo (analyst)
Radio? IU Radio Network; Sirius 106, XM 196, Internet 958: Don Fischer, Errek Suhr & Joe Smith
Vegas? Indiana -6
KenPom? Indiana by 4 (64%)