The Maryland Terrapins (13-3, 3-1) picked up one of its most impressive victories of the season in an 82-67 road victory over Minnesota (12-3, 2-2) last night.
The game started out with Minnesota leading through the first 13 minutes of play. Freshman Gabe Kalscheur scored 10 first-half points as the Golden Gophers led 40-34 at halftime.
Minnesota continued to maintain its advantage in the second half as junior Amir Coffey started to get going. With just over 17 minutes left in the game, Minnesota led 47-40.
That’s when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon decided to switch to a 3-2 zone defense and stymied the Golden Gopher offensive attack. Maryland went on a 16-9 run to tie the game at 56 with just over 11 minutes left in the game.
A three-pointer by Aaron Wiggins made it 59-56 and Maryland never looked back. From there the Terrapins outscored the Golden Gophers 23-11 and won the game comfortably.
Anthony Cowan was fantastic with a career-high 27 points. Coffey paced Minnesota with 16 points.
Let’s take a look at some highlights and what we learned from the game.
What We Learned:
1. Anthony Cowan needs to be in the Big Ten Player of the Year conversation
The Big Ten Player of the Year conversation has revolved around three players. Purdue’s Carsen Edwards, Michigan State’s Cassius Winston, and Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ. Based on Cowan’s play so far this season, I think he needs to start entering that discussion.
Cowan was masterful in their win last night. From controlling the pace, getting others involved (five assists), grabbing rebounds (six), and getting to the foul line (10-10), it was one of his best games as a Terrapin. With his 27-point effort, Cowan now is averaging 17.2 points per game, 4.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds. In conference play, Cowan is at 18.8 points per game, good for fifth best in the conference.
Maryland now stands at 3-1 in conference play so far. If the Terps keep winning and Cowan keeps putting up numbers, the Big Ten Player of the Year conversation will only get louder.
2. Maryland is getting better at closing out games
Terp head coach Mark Turgeon was visibly pumped about Maryland’s two-point win over Nebraska last week and mentioned in the post-game interview with BTN about the importance of his young team closing out games and cutting out the little mistakes.
His team seems to be responding to this message.
Maryland was very impressive last night in the way they closed out Minnesota on its home floor. After an Amir Coffey three with 4:25 left got the Golden Gophers within four, it looked like Maryland was in a precarious position with the raucous Williams Arena crowd howling. Instead, Maryland finished out the game on a 13-2 run and buried the Gophers. During that closing stretch, Maryland did not commit a turnover and was 5-6 from the foul line. That’s how you win games on the road in the Big Ten. Maryland seems to be figuring it out at the right time.
3. Poor shooting continues to plague the Golden Gophers
For Minnesota, this was a disappointing result after a promising win in Madison last week. The opportunity was there for Minnesota to protect its home court and makes its case for an upper echelon team in the Big Ten. After tonight, questions remain about just how good the Gophers are.
One of the big struggles continues to be shooting. Maryland switched to a zone defense in the second half to force Minnesota to make outside shots and they couldn’t do it. After a 3-6 start from three-point land in the first half, Minnesota was 3-10 from three in the second half. For the season, Minnesota is shooting just 31.7 percent from three, good for 12th in the conference.
Minnesota’s shooting troubles extended to the foul line as well. The Golden Gophers were 9-23 (39%) from the foul line last night. According to KenPom, the Gophers are actually one of the best at getting to the foul line (47.2% in FTRate, which is team free throws attempted percentage per offensive play), but they don’t make them. Their team free throw percentage is 65.9, good for 291st in the country.
The Gophers are lucky the Big Ten is not a zone defense conference, or their three-point shooting woes could be exasperated, but the foul shooting is concerning, especially late in games. It is something to keep an eye on as they advance through conference play.
What’s next for both teams?
Up next for Maryland is a big home match-up with no. 22 Indiana on Friday. Minnesota will look to get back on the winning track with a home game against Rutgers on Saturday.