Some nights, it’s just not your night. On Tuesday night, Maryland ran into a hot-shooting basketball team and the Terrapins just couldn’t quite muster enough.
Even without star senior Caris LeVert, Michigan used 41 percent shooting on 29 three-point attempts to shut the door late on Mark Turgeon and Maryland, 70-67, at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.
Zak Irvin led the way for Michigan with 22 points. Maryland’s front court attack tried its best to keep the Terrapins in it, with Jake Layman, Diamond Stone, and Robert Carter, Jr. combining to score 55 of the team’s 67 points on the night.
Here are five things you need to know.
1) Hot start for Michigan from the outside, which gets crowd into it
Through the first four minutes, Michigan was 3-of-4 from three-point range and got the crowd into it. That was the concern for Maryland out of the gate. Though smaller, the Wolverines shoot it well from the outside.
Without LeVert, the shot creation was not there like it would have been if he were in the game. Because of that, they have had to shoot over the top. Maryland’s bigs again had trouble closing out, especially when switching on screens and ending up in tough matchups.
Duncan Robinson, the 6-8 former D-III player, got hot, too. He was 4-of-5 from deep in the first half. He finished with 17 points.
2) The Melo foul trouble and the Varun adjustment
Maryland guard Melo Trimble picked up his second foul with 9:30 to play and head coach Mark Turgeon turned to former walk-on Varun Ram instead of junior college transfer Jaylen Brantley. It was a smart move.
Brantley is a scorer. That was not the issue. Ram meant there were really only four offensive threats on the floor, but defense was more important if Trimble was going to be forced to the bench.
Trimble was held in check all night. He was just 1-of-7 from the floor for two points and he had four turnovers to just three assists. Taking him out of the game changes Maryland’s dynamic entirely as an offensive unit.
3) The front court powers a comeback
Turgeon came out of the half making the same adjustment he did when the team was struggling against Penn State at home. To the bench went Damonte Dodd and into the game came the team’s best interior spark, Diamond Stone.
The Wolverines did not have the size on the interior to match up against the five-star freshman. Down 13 points with 16:38 to play in the second half, Stone powered Maryland on an 11-2 run to cut the deficit to four with 12:27 to play.
During that stretch, Maryland finally got some defensive stops, which enabled Stone to go to work down low and make a dent in the deficit. He finished with a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds.
In addition, Jake Layman stepped up. He takes more than his fair share of criticism for how he plays in the team’s biggest games. He often fades into the background offensively, but he was the exact opposite on Tuesday night.
Working mostly out of the post -- where he tends to thrive -- he was aggressive and active, carrying the offense when the backcourt was almost non-existent. He had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
4) Wolverines punch back down the stretch
Maryland took the lead, 57-56, with 6:48 to play, but Michigan broke out of its slump and starting fighting back. Robinson, Zak Irvin, and Derrick Walton all saw jumpers fall again after they rimmed out prior.
Maryland got it as close as 69-67 late, but could not pull it off.
5) The reality? Sometimes you lose
Maryland entered this game 15-1 on the year, the best start in school history. They ran into a team that was hot from three, even when there were not defensive lapses on the perimeter. They were on the road in an electric environment. This was as close to a road back-to-back as you’ll get, having just played Wisconsin in Madison on Saturday.
You occasionally lose games because it is hard to win on the road in college basketball.
This is still a talented Maryland basketball team in a year where the road to the Final Four is devoid of any one, dominant team. Just look across the landscape. No. 1 Kansas lost of the road Tuesday night. Michigan State has taken a loss. North Carolina lost earlier this year on the road to Texas. Last year, the Terrapins lost on the road to Illinois in Big Ten play.
It happens and Maryland will move forward.