BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana men’s basketball forward Juwan Morgan flexed and stared down a section of the crowd as the 17,222 fans erupted in cheers with just over four minutes remaining in the Hoosiers’ 71-68 win over Maryland on Monday night.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, meanwhile, turned toward his bench, pumped his fists in frustration and let out a yell. Then, he pointed past injured forward Bruno Fernando and called for forward Joshua Tomaic to re-enter the game.
Not only did Morgan’s and-one layup over center Michal Cekovsky cut Maryland’s edge to one before the junior nailed the free throw moments later, it also handed Cekovsky his fourth foul. Fernando was Turgeon’s solution to limiting Morgan through the first 25 minutes, but he sprained his right ankle, forcing Turgeon to rely on Tomaic.
Fernando’s injury about five minutes into the second half left the Terps with eight scholarship players and limited size. Morgan, who led Indiana with 25 points, took advantage by scoring 10 points in the final five minutes to seal the Hoosiers’ victory.
“[Fernando] made Morgan guard a little bit, put a little pressure on him there to try to wear him down a little bit,” Turgeon said. “He was the only one that could make him guard.”
With forwards Justin Jackson (torn labrum) and Ivan Bender (torn meniscus) sidelined for the remainder of the season, Cekovsky and Tomaic have stepped up. The duo combined for 24 points and seven rebounds in Maryland’s win over Minnesota on Thursday. Those contributions helped Tomaic earn his first career start Monday, but he and Cekovsky didn’t score in a combined 31 minutes against the Hoosiers.
Fernando used his 6-foot-10, 245-pound frame to resist Morgan in the paint and create his own opportunities, recording six points on 3-for-3 shooting before rolling his right ankle while performing a post move with 15:29 remaining. The freshman, who wore a boot on his right foot after the game, limped to the locker room and did not return to the game.
“For it to happen to us again,” guard Jared Nickens said, “it’s just kind of breathtaking.”
So, even when Maryland took a 62-57 lead with 4:53 left, Morgan scored 10 of Indiana’s next 12 points against the Terps’ small lineup, while only guards scored for Maryland after Fernando’s setback.
In addition to his and-one against Cekovsky, Morgan, who averages 15.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw over guard Kevin Huerter with 36 seconds remaining and finished a layup to give the Hoosiers a three-point edge.
“[Fernando] was a big presence in the first half, both scoring and passing,” said Huerter, who scored 16 points. “When he went down, it seemed like we lost a little bit inside.”
While Fernando has dealt with ankle issues this year, he hasn’t missed any time in conference play. No. 6 Michigan State and No. 3 Purdue, Maryland’s next two opponents, feature two of the best big men in the country, respectively, in Miles Bridges and Isaac Haas.
Maryland might need to upset one of those squads to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive, but the Terps will pose few challenges to their interior threats if Fernando is sidelined.
“We just got to pray for a speedy recovery, make sure he gets healthy,” Nickens said, “and work with what we have.”