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Maryland breaks out of shooting slump

Terrapins hit 12 3-pointers in win over Ohio State

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

It sounds like a no-brainer to say that a team wins when they’re 3-pointers are falling. But that has been the case for Maryland over the last three weeks. The Terrapins scored their most points of the Big Ten season on Saturday, shooting 41.4 percent (12-for-29) in an 86-77 home win over Ohio State.

The win ended Maryland’s two-game losing streak and improved the Terrapins’ to 5-2 in their last seven games.

What’s their difference in their wins and losses?

It’s not the defense, which has been consistent during the stretch, as the Terrapins are giving up 71.4 points per game in their five wins and 71.5 points per game in their two losses. It’s the other end of the floor that tells the story.

Maryland is scoring 79.8 points per game in wins, while being held to 68 points per game in losses. The main category that jumps out is the 3-point shooting. The Terrapins are shooting 44.8 percent (55-for-116) from the 3-point line in the five wins, making at least 10 three 3-pointers in four of those five games.

On the other hand, Maryland is shooting just 24.4 percent from behind the arc in their two losses, going 4-for-19 in last Saturday’s 73-72 loss to Purdue and 7-for-26 in Tuesday’s 70-64 loss at Penn State.

The Terrapins have overcome turnovers – committing 18 in a win over Rutgers – and poor rebounding in wins over Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio State, but they haven’t been able to win when their shots aren’t falling.

The Terrapins aren’t great from behind the arc, shooting 36.5 percent from deep on the season, but the entire game looks better when their shots are falling. When guys like Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson and Jaylen Brantley are stretching floor, it opens up space for Melo Trimble. Maryland is at their best when their junior point guard has room to create. Trimble excels when he isn’t settling for 3-pointers, getting in the paint and hitting floaters, drawing fouls, finding cutters or kicking it out to the team’s spot-up shooters.

And their shooters are getting more and more comfortable in their role. Maryland’s top 3-point shooters are freshman, as Jackson is shooting a team-leading 44.2 percent from behind the arc and Huerter is shooting 38.5 percent.

Brantley checks in at 36.9 percent from deep, while Trimble is shooting 33.1 percent and Jared Nickens is at 34.9 percent. The 3-point shooters also allow big men Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky to do what they do best, attack the offensive boards and hang around the basket to take advantage when Trimble draws multiple defenders.

The Terrapins could have their work cut out for them this week, going up against two of the better defensive teams in the Big Ten when they visit Northwestern on Wednesday and Wisconsin on Sunday.

The Wildcats are holding opponents to 64.4 points per game, allowing opponents to shoot 38.9 percent from the field, including 32.4 percent from the 3-point line. The Badgers are allowing just 60.4 points per game on the season, as their opponents are shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from behind the arc.

With just six games remaining, this is the most important week the Terrapins have left. If they can at least split with Northwestern and Wisconsin they will have a chance at sticking in the Big Ten race. Three of their final four games are at home, while the only road game is at conference doormat Rutgers.