After a poor 1-3 start to the season, Maryland won three straight nonconference games at home in hope of turning its season around. Friday night’s road bout against Indiana served as a test of whether or not its winning performances against inferior opponents meant improvement.
But much like its start of the year and similarly to nine of its ten Big Ten road games last year, the Terps faltered.
Indiana was in control for the entirety of Friday’s game and took down Maryland, 65-53, in the Terps’ Big Ten opener in Bloomington. Maryland (4-4) fell to 1-10 on the road against conference opponents under coach Kevin Willard and remained winless when playing away from Xfinity Center this season.
Both teams consistently struggled to make their three-point shots early in the year. The Terps converted on 23.8 percent of their shots beyond the arc compared to Indiana’s 24.1 percent rate — the two lowest marks among power-conference teams entering the game.
The problem continued for Maryland. The Terps shot 2-for-16 from three in Friday’s loss, a season-low in both three-point makes and three-point percentage.
The Hoosiers made two of their first three three-point attempts and jumped out to an early 16-4 lead. The teams were even for the rest of the half, though, entering the break with Maryland trailing by 12 points, 40-28.
“We did some things to start the game, it makes you scratch your head to be honest with you [about] what some guys were thinking,” Willard said. “… We have some older guys right now that are just doing stuff that you’re like, what are we doing? Like, you can’t do that.”
Indiana (6-1) finished the half shooting 3-for-6 from deep while the Terps’ struggles continued, making just one of their eight three-point attempts. Maryland also struggled from the free-throw line in the first half, going 3-for-7.
Maryland’s Jahmir Young and Indiana’s Kel’el Ware led the game with 12 points apiece at halftime. Young took advantage of Indiana starting point guard Xavier Johnson missing the game with an ankle injury and finished the night with 20 points.
Just as it did in the first, Maryland started the second half slow. Indiana started the half on a 12-3 run, which included 10 unanswered points, as the Terps made just one of their first seven shots.
The Hoosiers proceeded to blow the game out of reach. Another flurry of makes gave Indiana a 58-35 advantage midway through the second half — Maryland had over twice as many turnovers and nine less rebounds than Indiana at the time of its largest deficit on Friday.
Indiana finished the game with 16 more rebounds than the Terps, out-boarding Maryland on both the offensive and defensive side of the court.
“Their length and size, we haven’t seen that,” Willard said. “When you go up against them for the first time [their size] kind of rattles you a little bit too.”
Willard added that the Hoosiers size was also notable around the rim, making it tougher for his team to finish at the basket.
Ware’s dominance in the paint continued in the second half. The sophomore big and projected NBA first-rounder finished the day with a 18-point 14-rebound double-double, winning the post battle against the Terps’ Julian Reese.
Reese was still productive and posted 14 points and eight rebounds, but like Maryland to Indiana, couldn’t hang in with Ware. The junior picked up his fourth foul with about 13 minutes remaining, but stayed in and played a total of 32 minutes.
Redshirt junior Jordan Geronimo, who transferred to Maryland from Indiana over the offseason, was a non-factor offensively in his homecoming. Geronimo averaged 12.7 points per game in Maryland’s three-game home winning streak but went scoreless in the Terps’ loss on Friday night.
Maryland cut into the Hoosier deficit and went on a 14-3 run near the end of the second half, but it came too little and too late for the Terps. Maryland returns to Xfinity Center to play Penn State in its second Big Ten game of the season on Dec. 6.