- The Washington Times
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

COLLEGE PARK — Julian Reese could sense the disrespect emanating from the other side of the Xfinity Center court even before tip-off.  

“You know, watching them warm up, they was all laughing, giggling,” Reese said of No. 21 Indiana, riding a five-game winning streak into College Park. “Me and the team, we seen that.”

Maryland’s response to the Hoosiers potentially looking ahead to a weekend matchup with No. 1 Purdue?

“We took that kind of personally, and we just went out there and punched them in the mouth.”

The Terrapins brought the physicality to one of the Big Ten’s hottest teams, stopping Indiana’s streak in beating the Hoosiers 66-55 in front of a loud, late night crowd Tuesday.

Point guard Jahmir Young led all scorers with 20 points, and forward Donta Scott added 19, marking the third-straight game the pair have combined for more than 30 and the 13th time this season. 

“We’ve just kind of put the ball in Jahmir and Hakim’s hands a lot more,” said Maryland coach Kevin Willard. “We’re not running nearly as many pick-and-roll with the other guys. I’ve also cut the playbook down a little bit to kind of help them a little bit. So I think Hakim and Jahmir are making really good decisions.”

Reese finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, but his biggest contribution was helping to disrupt Indiana star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis.

“He’s been phenomenal,” Willard said of Reese. “Ever since he’s gotten healthy and back into a rhythm we’ve been we’ve been a really good basketball team.”

Willard called Jackson-Davis “the best player in college basketball right now” earlier this week. His team attacked him all night long like that was the case.

Jackson-Davis finished with a double-double, 18 points and 20 rebounds, but was flustered all night long by the Terrapins’ pressure and cooled off from his nearly 26 point-per-game average during the Hoosiers’ win streak. Guard Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana’s second leading scorer, only managed 3 points and was held scoreless in the first half.

“I feel like they can depend on me when we’ve got those big matchups, and the big time players we’re playing against, they can have confidence in me and and know that I can deal with them,” Reese said.

For Maryland (15-7, 6-5 Big Ten), it’s their ninth-straight win at home against a Big Ten opponent — the most in a season since joining the conference in 2014. It’s also the first in four tries against the Hoosiers, providing a significant boost to their chances of making March’s NCAA Tournament. They’re above .500 in conference play for the first time since being 1-0 after a Dec. 2 win over Illinois.

“I feel we’re getting punished because we played two bad games, and when I watch everyone else play bad games, they don’t seem to get punished,” Willard said of Maryland’s tournament chances. “So, I think it’s my job to start letting everybody realize we kicked a lot of people’s ass at the beginning of the year.”

Indiana (15-7, 6-5) utilized no-look passes and movement through the paint early to create easy looks at the basket. But Young was able to answer for Maryland, scoring seven of the Terrapins’ first nine points.

Issues with shooting from three-point range — one of the most inconsistent parts of Maryland’s offense — came from all over in the first half. 

After shooting 50% from deep in the first half Saturday against Nebraska, the Terrapins started 1-of-9, with Scott, Don Carey, Jahari Long and Hakim Hart putting up bad looks amidst a 3:00-long streak without a made shot. 

They finished the half 4-of-15 from the range, only a 26.7% clip. Two come them came in back-to-back fashion, from Scott and Young, to trim what had grown to a seven point Indiana lead down two one, 24-23, with 6:34 until halftime.

The lack of three-point success was offset by Maryland’s calling card on this night: Physicality and pressure. A stifling presence forced seven Indiana first-half turnovers (Maryland committed none) and led to 10 Hoosier fouls in the frame. For the second-straight game, thirteen of Maryland’s first-half points came from the foul line, with the Terrapins taking a 37-29 lead into the break.

Led by Reese, Maryland made life inhospitable for Jackson-Davis all night long. Constant double-team defense, hands in his face, and disrupting his passing lanes limited the magic the IU star is normally able to orchestrate. 

“To sit there and battle with the bigs he’s had to battle for the last five games, and really, if not win [the matchup], break even, just shows you how far Julian‘s come,” Willard said.

Hood-Schifino, his talented freshman teammate, was shook all night long by it, not looking like the player that averages nearly 13 points a game as Indiana’s second leading scorer. He finished 1-of-14 from the floor.

“I felt like [the press] didn’t let him get into a rhythm that he got into where they could just come down and throw it in to Trace and make work off that,” Willard said.

The Terrapins struggled to score for lengths of the second half, but their pressure did not yield, holding Indiana to 32.3% from the field in the final 20:00.

Only five of Young’s 18 came after halftime, which is when Scott turned in one of his finest halves of the season. 

“I just decided that I had to go out there and try to be physical,” Scott said. “More physical than I was being, because I’m a very physical player in my eyes. And I know that I have more physicality than had been on the court.”

His will to win was palpable, backing down IU’s Race Thompson multiple times in scoring 10 second-half points on 4-9 shooting. The Philadelphian scored eight of Maryland’s final 12 points to secure the win.

“I think he’s back to slowing down a little bit. I think he’s enjoying the physicality … I think he’s been really, really good at just kind of understanding the game plan, and I think he slowed down back on offense,” Willard said. 

• George Gerbo can be reached at ggerbo@washingtontimes.com.

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