Maryland Wraps Up 1st Big Ten Championship
Zachary Wilson with Wayne Viener
For the regular season finale and senior day, the Terps hoped to clinch their share of the Big Ten title against the Michigan Wolverines. It was an electric atmosphere for the final home game of star guard Anthony Cowan and the probable last game at Xfinity Center for All-American Candidate Jalen Smith.
Changing their ways from the game at Rutgers, Turgeon focused on creating more offensive opportunities down low instead of attempting threes. In stark contrast to their 32 deep shots in their previous game, the Terps only attempted 20 from the perimeter. This low post game proved to be extremely effective, as nearly every Maryland player improved their shooting (Maryland would shoot 56% overall and 40% beyond the arc).
While the defense was fairly standard, holding the Wolverines to 48% from the field and only 30% from deep. It was that offensive scheme switch that would lead UMD to a victory. Maryland scored 40+ in the first half, a feat they hadn’t achieved since they played Illinois at the start of February.
In his senior day spotlight, Anthony Cowan shot his most efficient game yet, going 7-11 and leading the team in scoring with 20 points. He would also lead the team with 8 assists as teammates buried jumper after jumper.
It was a day to remember, as Maryland cut down the nets to celebrate their Big Ten Championship. This is the first time they won the conference since leaving the ACC (it is also Turgeon’s first conference victory since 2005-06 when he coached Wichita State back when they were in the Missouri Valley Conference). UMD will be the third seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will have a double bye before they play on Friday March 13th in the late (about 8:55pm) slot.
Notable Statlines, The Good and The Not So Good:
Anthony Cowan-As previously detailed, Cowan was on his game, leading the team in both assists and points. His contributions would help Jalen Smith snag another double double as well as allow Eric Ayala to have a wonderful shooting night. This is how you play when its senior day and you are being celebrated for your achievements.
Aaron Wiggins-Wiggins, surprisingly, was the most efficient shooter on the floor here, shooting 6-8 overall and sending home 3 of his 4 shots from deep. There really isn’t much more you can ask of in terms of production from a shooting guard.
Eric Ayala-As a player plagued with inconsistency, Ayala has had a bit of a stretch now where the shooting is picking up. He, in league with everyone else, shot a great shooting percentage (6-10) and provided adequate scoring to keep Maryland up in this ballgame. He needs to keep his game at the level for the Terps to advance.
The Not So Good:
Genuinely Nothing-While one could nitpick and emphasize how UMD let up a slight bit on the defensive side in the second half, they played a well-balanced game. In the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, these are the types of games UMD will need to reach the later rounds of each.
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