Maryland men’s basketball sought to rebound from the first loss in the Kevin Willard era at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Terps might’ve hoped New York City’s bright lights would warm their offense into form.
Instead, they illuminated a cold reality.
Similar problems plagued Willard’s squad that doomed them against Wisconsin: a team reliant on its three-point shooting went cold and was physically outmatched inside. Tennessee proved a harsh messenger of those issues as the Volunteers dominated on the boards — forcing the Terps to shoot dismally from three — to build a steady lead.
After a lopsided first half that saw the Terps only score 17 points, they stormed back to keep the game close in the final minutes. Jahmir Young had two attempts to tie the game in the closing seconds, but missed both. The Terps’ close proximity to pulling the upset only made their numerous missed opportunities more painful.
“It’s really just trying to get the shot for our team to win,” Young said. “Unfortunately, they didn’t fall.”
The Terps’ three-point efficiency fell woefully short against the Volunteers, shooting a horrendous 2-of-24.
After the game, Willard acknowledged his team needed to convert on long-range attempts due to their lack of size.
“We have to win the three-point battle,” Willard said. “We’re not going to [be more physical than] anybody, it’s just not the way we’re built.”
Tennessee has only allowed opponents to shoot 20.2 percent from three this season, the best mark in the country. But the Terps had open opportunities.
Young found a wide-open look from three as he crossed up a Tennessee player and sent him crumpling to the wooden court. But instead of a swish, his shot hit the rim as he finished just 6-of-18 from the field, tied for his worst performance from the field this season.
Maryland’s interior disadvantage showed up on the glass. Tennessee outrebounded Maryland 48-40, accumulating 21 offensive rebounds and out-scored the Terps in second chance points 13-9.
The performance on the glass continued a narrative that Maryland could have difficulty dealing with more physical teams down the stretch of the season.
Maryland will need to shoot well to beat teams like Wisconsin and Tennessee. The Terps’ schedule doesn’t get any easier. They face UCLA, a team ranked No. 8 in the nation by KenPom, Wednesday.
While the Terps fought highly ranked Tennessee to a close finish, Willard knows his team — one revolving around its shooters — needs to improve offensively to avoid similar losses in the future.