Monday, February 26, 2024

Takeaways from Maryland Men’s Basketball’s Hard-Fought Win Over Nicholls State

HomeSports NewsTakeaways from Maryland Men's Basketball's Hard-Fought Win Over Nicholls State

The Maryland Terrapins men’s basketball team survived an upset scare last night, narrowly defeating the Nicholls State Colonels 73-67 at home. The win extended Maryland’s home winning streak to 18 games, but it was far from a comfortable victory.

Inconsistency Continues to Plague Terps

The Terrapins have struggled with inefficient play and lapses throughout the season, especially in their four losses. That troubling trend reappeared last night against Nicholls State, a team Maryland should have handled easily at home.

The Terps shot a woeful 35.5% from the field and an underwhelming 65.5% from the free throw line. Their overall energy and effort were lacking from the opening tip. Maryland’s defense was slow to contest shots on the perimeter, allowing the Colonels to drain three-pointer after three-pointer.

Led by Dante Smith and Jalen White’s combined eight three-pointers, Nicholls State lived behind the arc. Over half of the Colonels’ made field goals came from deep. At one point, Nicholls State hit three consecutive triples to build a game-high nine point lead early in the second half.

It wasn’t until facing that daunting deficit when Maryland finally woke up. The Terps scored 31 points over the final 9:54 to narrowly escape an embarrassing upset. But the fact that Maryland needed every last basket to outlast a middle-of-the-pack Southland Conference team at home is extremely concerning.

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Head coach Kevin Willard acknowledged the Terps must perform significantly better on the road, starting with their upcoming matchup against UCLA. Maryland’s periodic sluggishness and disconnects have defined the season thus far. If the Terrapins can’t find more consistent effort and execution quickly, their season could spiral.

Rare Off Night For Julian Reese

Junior forward Julian Reese has been excellent offensively this season, providing consistent scoring and rebounding inside. But against the undersized Colonels, Reese shockingly struggled to convert his looks in the paint.

Knowing Maryland’s perimeter shooting woes, Nicholls State flooded the lane and prevented Reese from getting comfortable touches inside. Reese missed 10 of his 13 shot attempts, an extremely uncharacteristic shooting night.

Making matters worse, Reese had his difficulties from the free throw line as well. He entered the game shooting 75% from the charity stripe, by far the best of his career. But last night Reese went just 3-of-11 on free throws, leaving crucial points on the board.

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Fortunately, Reese still made winning plays defensively. He recorded career-highs with six blocks and 13 rebounds, helping stymie Nicholls State inside. Reese didn’t get going offensively as the Terps hoped, but his interior defense and rebounding proved pivotal in the victory.

Clutch Shot-Making From Scott and Long

While Jahmir Young led Maryland with 23 points, veterans Donta Scott and Jahari Long provided the timely shot-making that ultimately put the Terps over the top.

Scott has struggled to find consistency this season, but delivered big shots when Maryland desperately needed them. With the Terps down 9 points, Scott scored 8 of the team’s next 12, including two clutch three-pointers.

I know that I need to be a leader and have to step up to try to get these guys together,” Scott commented after the game.

Long, who played 24 minutes off the bench, also came through in the game’s biggest moments. His first made three-pointer gave Maryland a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. And his second triple with just over a minute left essentially sealed the victory.

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Long finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 forced turnovers. His energetic play provided a much-needed spark.

“We’re just happy for [Long] to be able to contribute like we know he can, get out there, get open [shots],” Young said. “And really, he just helped us with his energy on the defensive end as well.”

The veteran contributions from Scott and Long were instrumental in Maryland escaping the upset bid. Moving forward, the Terps will need more steady play from the veterans to reach their potential.

Key Takeaways

  • Inconsistency remains a major issue, as Maryland lacked energy and execution for long stretches against Nicholls State
  • Reese had a shockingly inefficient night offensively, but still made winning plays defensively
  • Scott and Long hit clutch shots to help the Terps narrowly avoid the upset
  • Maryland has plenty of room for improvement as they head on the road to face UCLA
  • The Terps must find more consistency and effort quickly before the season slips away
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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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