Basketball is often a numbers game. The five numbers below went a long way toward determining the outcome of Maryland’s 74-65 loss to Michigan State on Saturday evening in East Lansing.
Here they are:
Points scored by Michigan State guard Bryn Forbes, who came into the game averaging 13.1 points per game. Not only did he nearly double his average scoring output, but he broke out of a funk that spanned the Spartans’ three-game losing streak.
Over the last three games, he had shot 5-of-22 from the field and scored a total of 16 points. Saturday night? Those 25 points came on 15 shots. Michigan State needed something from someone in that backcourt not named Denzel Valentine. Forbes delivered.
The number of shots from the floor taken by five-star Maryland freshman Diamond Stone. Against Michigan State bigs Deyonta Davis, Gavin Schilling, and Matt Costello, Stone had a chance to be a focal point.
But Turgeon said it himself during an in-game interview with ESPN -- his team fell in love with the jump shot early. It was not until the second half when Maryland really emphasized the ball screen action with Melo Trimble and Stone or Robert Carter, Jr. that the offense got any momentum.
He was only able to shoot four free throws -- all makes -- which is typically an indication of how often a player touches the ball in the paint and his aggressiveness in attacking the rim. Had he gotten going, that would have opened up the perimeter more as well.
That was the rebounding differential for Maryland. In the first half, they were outworked by a Michigan State team that was able to chase down long rebounds and push players around on the block to go get loose balls off the rim.
Costello was a force. His 12 rebounds included six on the offensive glass that kept possessions alive for the Spartans.
And it is not just the second-chance points (Michigan State had 15 off of 17 offensive rebounds) that should worry you. Not closing out a possession with a board forces you to defend for another 30 seconds. That exposes you to more fouls and leads to an overall fatigue. Both were issues in the first half especially.
4) 3 (again)
The number of free throw attempts by Maryland point guard Melo Trimble. Head coach Mark Turgeon has continued to beat the drum about the way fouls are called and its possible connection to Trimble’s dip in free throw attempts per game, which is at 3.9 this season after he visited the stripe 6.9 times per game last season.
Yes, part of it is that 11 of his 17 shot attempts on Saturday night were from three. That’s not where you’re going to get fouled. But Turgeon will almost assuredly look back at at least a pair of Trimble drives to the bucket where fouls were not called and could have some questions.
Take away Trimble’s ability to get to the line and it changes the way he can play. He is less efficient. How many times last year did we see him take 17 field goal attempts to get 24 points? Those attempts from the floor were typically closer to 10.
Maryland’s shooting percentage from three-point range was not what it needed to be to beat Michigan State, but that’s the caveat that I pointed out in the lead-up to this game. Maryland is built to beat the Spartans in a way that Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska did -- spread it out and hit your shots.
They just didn’t hit their shots. If a few threes fall and, say, they go 10-for-27 (37 percent), we are talking about a completely different basketball game down the stretch and possibly a different outcome.
Yes, they needed to get the ball inside more. But that work inside could have been aided by a make or two more from the perimeter.