COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland came into Saturday’s game against Wisconsin riding a 27-game home winning streak. It needed to continue for the Terrapins to put themselves in the best position to win the Big Ten regular-season title.
Saturday, it was snapped.
Wisconsin, making use of hot shooting from three and a double-digit rebounding margin, earned a victory on the road over the Terrapins, 70-57.
Four Terrapins scored in double figures, led by Rasheed Sulaimon’s 17 points, but the offense overall was unable to hit its stride. Wisconsin countered with four double-figure scorers of its own, led by 21 points from Vitto Brown.
Here are five things you need to know.
1) Defense setting the tone early
It was Maryland’s weakness early in the season and it has now transformed into the thing that sets the tone for these Terrapins. Through four minutes, Jake Layman had three blocks. Those blocks function line turnovers, spurring the transition game for Maryland.
And though Maryland’s pace numbers don’t show it -- per KenPom, they rank 229th in adjusted tempo -- I think this team is most dangerous when they get out and run. With so many shooters, it is difficult for teams to find guys in transition and match up.
After getting in a 7-2 hole, they responded with a 12-0 run to take the lead back.
2) Hitting an offensive rut
Few other teams in the country can go from looking like a Maserati on the offensive end of the floor to struggling to even get a look like Maryland can. After getting out to the 14-7 lead, the Terrapins went more than eight minutes without a point until a pair of Melo Trimble free throws stopped the skid.
In that time, though, Wisconsin grew its lead to 24-16. In all, it was a 17-0 Badger run. Turnovers were the persistent problem, with Maryland having committed nine by the under-4 timeout.
3) Scuffle under the rim
After a Melo Trimble miss with under five seconds to play in the first half and Maryland trailing, 35-19, Terrapin and Badger players went after the ball under Maryland’s rim. Freshman Diamond Stone and Wisconsin junior Vitto Brown went to the ground.
As Stone got up, replay appears to show that his left hand pushes Brown’s head into the ground. At the same time, it appears Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes is moving Stone to the side. Wisconsin players reacted and the two sides had to be separated under the basket.
Wisconsin’s Charlie Thomas was assessed a technical foul. Stone was assessed a contact technical foul.
4) Energy out of the half
After the scuffle to end the first half, Maryland trailed by 15 points. If they had any chance of fighting back, they needed energy out of the half -- and they got it.
Robert Carter, Jr’s dunk, plus the foul, ignited the crowd. It was an all-around effort. Trimble was involved. Jake Layman was involved. Even guard Jaylen Brantley came off the bench to chip in four points and some crucial minutes in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
It was a six-point game with 10:35 to play.
5) Big Badger shots down the stretch
Any time Maryland got close, Wisconsin answered back in a big way. With defense draped all over him, Bronson Koenig hit a jumper with 9:28 to go to push the lead to nine points. He followed that with a three that got it to 10, answering a Maryland basketball.
Zak Showalter made Maryland pay with a three after they failed to close out a possession. A Layman three with 4:18 to go cut it to eight and could have turned the tide, but a Brown three squashed the momentum immediately.
Wisconsin made just 23 shots from the floor on Saturday night, but 12 of them were threes. They shot 41 percent from the floor, but 46 percent from three. Add that to the fact that Maryland missed an uncharacteristically high number of free throws, and a team like the hot Badgers becomes tough to beat.
Wisconsin has now won seven in a row.