Maryland has allowed lesser teams to hang around in the past this season before-- almost like clockwork -- storming back to get a win. Not on Thursday night.
In perhaps the most unlikely upset of the college basketball season, the Minnesota Gophers, who were previously winless in Big Ten play, came out of the gate hot and withstood a second-half Maryland push to earn a stunning 68-63 victory.
Despite a career high of 28 points from Rasheed Sulaimon, Maryland’s offense was otherwise stagnant and unable to ever get into a rhythm. Three Gophers were in double figures, led by guard Nate Mason.
Here are 5 things you need to know.
1) Textbook on how to let lesser teams stay in games early
Maryland has allowed this to happen at different points this season. Lesser teams can stick around by capitalizing on a pair key things that the Terrapins allow them to do -- hit shots from the outside and force turnovers.
Senior Joey King came off the bench hitting three of his first four shots from deep. As a team, the Gophers hit six of their first eight from three. For a measuring stick, Minnesota came into Thursday night’s game shooting 31 percent from that distance.
The Terrapins turned the ball over three times in the first four minutes, which allowed the Gophers to push it back the other direction. Not only does that combination of shooting and forcing turnovers put points on the board, but it gives them confidence.
Made shots make a team winless in conference play believe they can beat the nation’s No. 6 team and that goes a long way.
2) Noticeable absence of Diamond Stone
Robert Carter, Jr. is a nice post option and was clearly part of the game plan on Thursday. But this offense was already struggling. Taking its most bruising interior finisher out of the mix because of suspension makes the job much easier for the defense.
The result becomes too many lineups with limited options in the post, like Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky on the floor at the same time. Maryland even tried a lineup that had Jaylen Brantley, Varun Ram, and Cekovsky. Where was the offense coming from there?
Even against a team that entered the game 175th in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom, Maryland could not get anything going.
3) A shining half vs. a disastrous half
Maryland trailed by 11 points at the break because their massive struggles were combined with a stellar first half from Minnesota during which they were 7-of-13 from three. It was the most points scored by Minnesota since Nov. 27. It was the most points Maryland had surrendered since against North Carolina on Dec. 1.
4) On the verge of unraveling, but Maryland responds
After back-to-back turnovers that were flipped into easy Minnesota scores, it was a 50-38 game with 11:45 to play. With very few other cards to play, the Terrapins turned to full-court defensive pressure and it worked.
A 14-4 Maryland run followed to cut the game to just two points, 54-52. Maryland went smaller during that stretch, too, which allowed them to apply that pressure. Minnesota’s hot shooting in the first half regressed to the mean during that stretch and the Terrapins were able to climb back.
They took the lead with 3:04 to play on a Rasheed Sulaimon three.
5) Missed opportunities in final two minutes
After taking the lead late, Maryland’s execution in the final two minutes left opportunities on the table. Included in that was an uncharacteristic stretch from point guard Melo Trimble, who remains in a funk offensively.
From the team as a whole, shot selection was questionable. Turnovers, of which the Terrapins committed 15 on the night, came back to bite them in key spots. Minnesota’s ability to hit free throws down the stretch sealed it.