In what looked like a game that could turn into a second half blowout, the Iowa Hawkeyes made a game of it in the second half against Maryland on Thursday night.
The two teams couldn’t have gotten off to more different starts as Iowa was ice cold to begin the game while Maryland was getting any shot they wanted. But a second half run by Iowa due to some timely shooting and a few mental lapses by the Terps kept the game close until the buzzer.
Melo Trimble led all scorers with 20 points on 6-12 shooting and was clutch down the stretch to help Maryland stay atop the Big Ten standings at 5-1 in conference play.
In what was a winnable game against a ranked opponent for Iowa, Fran McCaffrey’s squad just couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch as they drop their second straight game in the conference after they looked to have turned that proverbial corner a week ago with a big win vs. Purdue. They now sit at 3-4 in conference play with four of their next six on the road.
Let’s see what we learned.
What We Learned
1. Melo Trimble has a calming influence.
During Iowa’s second half spurt that got the team back in the game, Melo Trimble was on the bench. The potential first rounder in this year’s NBA Draft wasn’t in foul trouble, nor was he playing poorly. He was just getting his normal rest during the second half. But the Terps offense didn’t look the same and simply doesn’t flow as well when he’s on the bench. The ball movement wasn’t as crisp, the team didn’t get the ball into the paint like they love to do and they made costly turnovers that led to Iowa baskets.
Once Trimble was inserted back into the game, he steadied the Terps offensive attack and got the team back on track. He made two big time three pointers and was the different between a win and loss in this one for the Terps. His decision to forego the 2016 NBA Draft and return for his junior season seems to be paying off even though the team as a whole is slightly less talented overall than they were a season ago when they lost to Kansas in the Sweet 16.
2. Iowa is too perimeter oriented.
Iowa lives and dies by the three. The Hawkeyes are 3rd in the conference in attempts but only 8th in overall percentage. Whether it was Maryland’s defense or by design, Iowa relied too heavily on the outside shot tonight and it just wasn’t falling for them, particularly in the first half. The team was 7-28 from distance on the night which is a putrid 25% clip. Jordan Bohannon had a particularly poor showing as the was 3-11 (27%) on the night, well below his 37% average on the season.
It looked as though the team was settling for three point jumpers all too often and just wasn’t getting the ball inside to their big men until it was too late. The three point shot can shoot teams in and out of games depending on whether they are falling or not but teams should recognize when it just isn’t their night from the outside and make a point to get the ball inside a little more.
Iowa didn’t do that on Thursday evening and their offensive attack suffered. They scored 76 points, which isn’t terrible, but much of that was in the second half during a stretch in which Maryland was playing too fast, not taking good shots and turning the ball over. The Hawkeyes are a young team and they will get better as they go along, but tonight just wasn’t one of those nights and it might have cost them a victory against a Top 25 team.
3. Terps continue to dominate paint.
The Terps lead the Big Ten in points in the paint and Thursday evening at Iowa was no different. This team’s offense works from the inside out, something I wish more teams would employ during this era in basketball where guards dominate every facet of the game.
When Melo Trimble is penetrating the lane, finishing through contact and setting up teammates with easy buckets this team can be unstoppable. Mark Turgeon and company put on a clinic for much of the first half as they were getting anything they wanted in the painted area. The Hawkeyes weren’t defending the pick and roll very well and Maryland was getting easy bucket after easy bucket as Melo Trimble and the rest of the Maryland guards were doing whatever they wanted on the floor.
There’s been a lot of skepticism on whether Maryland could replicate its non-conference performance as things got tougher in Big Ten play, but the Terps continue to win the games on the schedule. And worrying about anything else is pointless.
Tonight’s game against Iowa showed that this team has some grit and resilience. Iowa made their run and took the lead for the first time in the game late in the second half. But Melo Trimble, Anthony Cowan and Jaylen Brantley all made bit time shots late to give this team their 3rd win on the road in the Big Ten.