House Report: Maryland’s second half run carries the Terps past Minnesota

DanielHouse

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During Monday night’s 95-84 win over Penn State, the Gophers received a combined 71 points from Jordan Murphy, Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer. When Minnesota’s depth took a hit two weeks ago, the formula for winning has been centered around contributions from the “three M’s” – McBrayer, Mason and Murphy.

As the Gophers (14-7, 3-5 Big Ten) traveled to Maryland (15-6, 4-4 Big Ten), they were unable to produce a similar output. The main scoring duo combined to tally just 42 points and shot a combined 15-for-45. Maryland gashed the Minnesota defense as they shot a blazing 56 percent from the floor. The Terrapins dominated the paint, outscoring the Gophers 33-22 during a 77-66 win.

The Terrapins started the game missing five of their first seven shots, but Minnesota didn’t take advantage. The Gophers shot just 2-for-12 inside the paint and 4-for-7 from behind the arc in the first eight minutes. Much of Minnesota’s success from three-point land was fueled by freshman Jamir Harris. In his career second start, Harris opened the night with a pair of triples. He has made five of his nine three-point tries over the past two games. Harris had ten points, scoring in double digits for the second consecutive game.

Maryland was on a six-minute scoring drought near the 12-minute mark of the first half, but Minnesota’s largest first half lead was just six points. The Terps quickly went on a 13-2 run to grab a 23-16 lead at the 6:45 mark. Kevin Huerter scored 10 points during the scoring outburst, including a pair of three-pointers.

The Gophers had three turnovers over a three-minute stretch and surrendered high percentage shots around the rim. Minnesota struggled to defend ball screens, allowing numerous rolling players to convert easy baskets around the rim. They were outscored 19-6 in the paint and shot just 30 percent during the first half.

Davonte Fitzgerald connected from downtown, scoring five consecutive points, cutting into the Maryland lead. Nate Mason added a long-range three-pointer and the Gophers went on a 11-0 run to end the first half, trailing 29-28 at the break. Minnesota held one of Maryland’s top scorers -- guard Anthony Cowan -- scoreless in the first half. He quickly changed this in the second half, scoring 15 points on 3-for-7 shooting.

The Terps went on a long second half outburst, knocking down three three-pointers during a 19-2 run. Maryland quickly led by 14 points on the heels of a nine-point second half sequence by big-man Michal Cekovsky. Cekovsky and Kevin Huerter combined to score 36 points and dominated the final 20 minutes. Maryland entered the game shooting 38 percent from from behind the arc and started to heat up in the second half. The Terps had three three-pointers during the first seven minutes, allowing them to pull away from the Gophers.

Minnesota had no answer for Maryland’s big-men, especially when foul trouble plagued the five-spot. Early in the second half, Bakary Konate and Gaston Diedhiou combined to tally seven fouls with just 13 minutes left. Maryland was already attacking Minnesota’s low-post game as Konate and Diedhiou struggled to physically handle their increased workload. Communication issues along the perimeter also allowed Maryland to convert with easy finishes around the rim and deep three-pointers. The Terps made 57 percent of their three-point tries and Kevin Huerter drilled four of his five tries from downtown.

When the Gophers receive a combined 42 points from their main core, they struggle to compete against Big Ten teams with more depth. Their lack of talent down low was apparent as Maryland used high percentage shots to cruise past the Gophers for their fourth Big Ten win. The loss, Minnesota’s fifth in the Big Ten, puts another dent in an already steep climb into NCAA Tournament contention.

The Gophers will travel to Madison Square Garden in New York for a challenging neutral court “home game” against Ohio State (16-4, 7-0 Big Ten) on Saturday morning.
 
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