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‘They figured it out’: Indiana men’s basketball defeats Maryland 68-55 on the road

This is Indiana’s first win in College Park since Maryland joined the Big Ten.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Both Indiana’s and Maryland’s men’s basketball programs entered Saturday’s game with different head coaches from the previous season. Indiana did so by choice, but Maryland’s was due to circumstance.

The Hoosiers never made the NCAA Tournament under Archie Miller, and the Terrapins never made it too far once they got in with Mark Turgeon.

Each team’s replacement came with an NBA background. Indiana’s Mike Woodson as a player and coach and Maryland’s Danny Manning as a player. The two boast identical career scoring averages of 14 points per game.

They’d crossed paths in the NBA before, but they met for the first time as coaches in Indiana’s 68-55 win Saturday in College Park, Maryland.

[RELATED: Three Things: Indiana beats Maryland 68-55]

Indiana entered the game slightly hindered. Rob Phinisee suffered an injury during the Hoosiers’ Jan. 26 win over Penn State. Lacking experience at point guard behind Xavier Johnson, Woodson opted to insert Khristian Lander, who has also been dealing with injury, sparingly.

As it has in multiple previous Big Ten matchups, Indiana opened the first half slowly. Maryland gained some momentum on an 8-0 run in the game’s opening minutes. Then it was introduced to Johnson.

“They figured it out,” Woodson said in a postgame press conference. “Their offense started to click a little bit, our defense got stingy, now we’re back in the game and made a hell of a game out if it.”

Indiana claimed its first lead six minutes into the first half thanks to precision passing and free throws from its starting point guard. Johnson had a hand in every one of Indiana’s first 9 points, picking up 3 assists and shooting two free throws.

Indiana’s ongoing issues with perimeter defense were on display. Defensive lapses showed up in the loss to Michigan and in the second half against Penn State, and Maryland shooters routinely found open space along the perimeter.

But Maryland isn’t either of those teams, shooting just 32.6% beyond the arc on the season entering this game. That’s good for second-worst in the Big Ten. Only four of the Terrapins’ 15 first half 3-pointers went in, largely due to their own shooting woes rather than Indiana’s defense.

Johnson was only subbed out once in the first half. Indiana committed two turnovers, picked up three fouls and scored just 2 points in the two and a half minutes the Hoosiers spent without him.

He may have been pressed into the role, but this game also represented a unique opportunity for Johnson. He played at Bishop O’Connell High School less than an hour away from XFINITY Center, this was a bit of a homecoming for him.

[RELATED: Xavier Johnson emerging in Indiana men’s basketball’s offense]

Johnson’s parents made the trip with other members of his family, donning the Hoosiers’ cream and crimson while watching their son collect 8 points and nine assists.

“He’s always been able to defend, get after people, but offensively I think the game is starting to slow down for him,” Woodson said.

He was back on the court when Indiana closed the first half with a thunderous dunk from Trayce Jackson-Davis, taking a 33-26 lead into the locker room.

Maryland’s energy to open the game quickly faded during the first half and all but evaporated in the second. Between shooting 16.7% from beyond the arc after halftime and giving little effort to prevent a dunk from Trey Galloway, this looked like a team whose coach resigned in December.

The Terrapins scored 9 points in the final five minutes of the game, but it only served to make the box score look a bit less ugly in the Hoosiers’ 68-55 win.

Not only was this Indiana’s second consecutive road win, it was also the Hoosiers’ first win in College Park since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014. With this win, Indiana has now won in all 14 Big Ten arenas.

“We haven’t played bad on the road,” Woodson said. “We’ve had good games, winnable games, where I just couldn’t get ‘em over the hump, man. This team is continuing to grow.”