Michigan St.-Maryland Preview
Maryland turned heads going into East Lansing and upsetting Michigan State in its Big Ten debut.
It remains to be seen if the Spartans can return the favor at College Park, where the No. 14 Terrapins have proven nearly unbeatable.
Maryland goes for a seventh consecutive home win as the teams meet for the second time in just over two weeks Saturday.
Tied with Wisconsin atop the league standings, the Terrapins (16-2, 4-1) have proven to be a force after coming over from the ACC. Maryland is holding opponents to a conference-low 37.3 percent shooting, just ahead of Michigan State’s mark of 37.8 percent.
These teams gave each other fits on the defensive end before the pesky Terrapins escaped with a 68-66 double-overtime win Dec. 30. Star freshman Melo Trimble shot 2 of 13 but finished with 17 points as Maryland overcame its worst shooting display (33.3 percent) of the season.
"I’m sure they’ll be coming in here fired up to get another shot at us," senior Evan Smotrycz said. "We’ll be ready, we’ll gave a good game plan and hopefully play a little better offensively than we did at their place."
The Terrapins overpowered the Spartans down low and held a 52-36 rebounding edge, Michigan State’s worst margin since its first-round NCAA tournament loss to eventual Final Four participant George Mason in 2006.
Maryland also made 26 of 32 free throws despite failing to get to the line in the first half.
"We can’t get beat on the boards like that and we can’t put a team on the foul line, we have to do a better job," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I think this is one of the bigger games of the year so far, and it’s going to be fun to see how we respond."
Things aren’t likely to get much easier against a Terrapins team that’s won each of its 11 home games against unranked foes by an average of 16.9 points. Maryland’s only home defeat came 76-65 to No. 2 Virginia on Dec. 3.
The Terrapins survived a scare before getting by Rutgers 73-65 on Wednesday. Dez Wells scored 17 points while Jake Layman added 12 and a career-high 13 boards as Maryland closed the game on a 22-8 run.
The Terrapins shot 34.4 percent but outscored the Scarlet Knights 20-8 at the foul line. Maryland is averaging 19.2 made free throws to rank second in the country.
"Whatever it takes for us to win, we’ll do. We’ll figure it out," coach Mark Turgeon said. "I think that’s what I like about this team, because it wasn’t looking good. … I thought our crowd was unbelievable. I really thought it was the difference in the game.
"That’s what Maryland is about. Sometimes the crowd is going to will you to victory."
The Spartans (12-5, 3-1) have won three straight by an average of 13.6 points since losing to Maryland. Senior Travis Trice led the way with 18 points and 10 assists as all five starters scored in double figures in Sunday’s 84-77 overtime victory over Northwestern.
However, Michigan State blew a 14-point lead in the first half and led by 11 in the second.
"Every time I think we’re taking a step forward, to me, we take a step back, and the performance today was not one that I’m very proud of," Izzo said.
It’s unclear if Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello will be at full strength after both played through an illness last weekend. Valentine is averaging 14.2 points to rank second on the team behind Trice’s 14.3.
The Spartans are shooting a Big Ten-best 41.3 percent from 3-point range, but they’re the worst foul shooting team at 64.6 percent.