- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2021

With 15 minutes to play in Maryland basketball’s eventual 63-55 loss to Indiana on Monday night, the Terrapins held a 10-point advantage. But the Hoosiers stormed back, taking a lead and building on it, to continue Maryland’s struggles to open the Big Ten slate.

The Terrapins played without guard Darryl Morsell, who’s recovering from surgery to fix a fractured bone in his face. And while his defensive tenacity and senior leadership were missed, there were other issues at play in the defeat.

Here are three takeaways from Maryland’s loss, which dropped the team to 1-4 in the conference.

Second-chance points

Maryland doesn’t have as much height as it did in years past, when rim protectors such as Bruno Fernando, Michal Cekovsky and Jalen Smith holding opponents at bay in the lane. The smaller lineup has shown flashes of success, particularly against then-No. 6 Wisconsin last week.

But late in Monday’s loss, that size differential seemed to become a detriment. Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis took over the game in the second half, whittling away the Terrapins’ lead with his offensive rebounds and put-backs. He finished with 22 points, and four of his 15 rebounds were on the offensive end.

“They had a little bit of size and length on us, but we just weren’t tough enough to box out,” guard Aaron Wiggins said. “We weren’t physical enough down low in the second half. I think we did a really good job in the first half keeping them off the boards, limiting their second-chance points, but in the second half they were getting offensive rebounds and scoring out of them.”

Forward Galin Smith fouled out, so Donta Scott and Jairus Hamilton were charged with playing considerable minutes against taller opposition. Chol Marial, the Terrapins’ 7-foot-2 center, played just one minute.

The Hoosiers scored 14 second-chance points off 12 offensive rebounds. That area made up for an anemic shooting display overall, converting from beyond the three-point line at an 18.2 percent rate.

“It really just came down to rebounding,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “We really got our tails kicked on the boards.”

Ill-timed cold spell

Maryland went six minutes without scoring a point late in the second half, allowing Indiana to build its own 10-point edge. Neither team shot lights-out on Monday, but that cold spell — which included seven missed shots and three turnovers — put the finishing touches on the Terrapins’ loss.

Turgeon said his team didn’t move the ball quickly enough, creating a stagnant offense. Without a dominant big, Maryland couldn’t find an outlet down low to bail out a stale possession. The Terrapins finished shooting 38.5 percent overall and 25 percent from deep.

“Offensively, I think we needed to cut harder, move our bodies more,” guard Reese Mona said. “Just swing it more, because once we swing the ball a few times, it’s much harder to guard, our offense.”

James Graham

James Graham joined the program in late December after graduating high school early, and with only a week of practice, the 6-foot-8 guard/forward found himself on the floor for his first four minutes of college play.

If Morsell had been healthy to play, Turgeon said Graham likely wouldn’t have been in that position. The 17-year-old missed his lone shot attempt, and his second-half turnover led to a transition dunk for Jackson-Davis.

Turgeon said Graham is trying to learn the new system on the fly, with extra film sessions and studying to understand terminology.

“He’s a willing learner, he can make a shot, and he’s worked really hard since he’s been here. He’s got good size,” Turgeon said. “So, he was nervous probably and had a big turnover in the second half, but he’s going to be good for us. He’s 17 years old, guys. Just where our team is right now.”

“He’s trying to figure it all out, but there’s a lot,” Turgeon added. “He’s so far behind, terminology and all that stuff. It’s going to take a while.”

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