After barely escaping with a win to snap its two-game losing streak in the Big Ten against Penn State, Indiana has another tough task ahead.
At 8 p.m. Monday, Indiana will welcome Maryland to Assembly Hall. This game will serve as an opportunity for Indiana to get back to .500 in conference play.
With the Big Ten being the gauntlet that it is, this feels like another must-win situation for the Hoosiers. Every Big Ten game is difficult, as is the case with Maryland, but with Indiana desperately needing to get its footing right moving forward, the team needs this.
Through 10 games, Maryland has the same record as Indiana, at 6-4 overall, but is 1-3 in conference. While neither mark is very impressive, it should be noted that the Terrapins' one Big Ten win is quite notable.
On Dec. 28, Maryland went on the road to Madison and beat No. 6 Wisconsin, 70-64. The upset shows that even with Maryland’s iffy resume, they are no pushover.
The Terrapins have plenty of talent on their roster and guys who have had success at the college level, it’s just a matter of them putting it all together. Similar to Penn State, Maryland is missing stars from a year ago in Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith.
This year, players such as Eric Ayala, Donta Scott and Aaron Wiggins are adjusting to their new roles of being the go-to players on the team.
The trio make up the Terrapins’ double-digit scorers with Ayala scoring 14.7, Scott at 12.9, and Wiggins with 11 points per game, respectively. Ayala is the leading scorer, but Scott is perhaps the most versatile.
The sophomore forward does a little bit of everything, grabbing a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game, ranking fourth on the team in steals and assists, and shooting 51.9% from distance.
Maryland scores about the same rate as Indiana — Maryland scores 74.6 points per game, and Indiana averages 72.7.
For a number of statistical categories, the two teams are pretty identical, too.
- 3-point %: IU – 34.5%, Maryland – 35.1%
- FG%: IU – 46.7%, Maryland – 48.3%
- Rebounds per game: IU – 34.3, Maryland – 36.0
- FT%: IU – 67.6%, Maryland – 69.6%
With Indiana and Maryland having rather similar statistical identities, it could come down to a battle of effort and who wants it more. These two teams are desperate for a win.
In recent years, Indiana has particularly struggled with Maryland. Maryland has won the past three meetings and the Hoosiers have not won since the 2017-2018 season.
Fixing Indiana’s mistakes
In order for Indiana to get a win over Maryland and even its Big Ten record, the Hoosiers are going to need to clean up some of their mistakes from the Penn State win.
A win is a win, but it didn’t look pretty. The Hoosiers had a number of times where they looked good, but they could never keep momentum. Way too often would Indiana lose the lead and squander control of the game.
As a result, Indiana ended up in overtime after losing a 12-point lead with 10 minutes to go.
Another consistent issue was allowing Penn State to get open looks from deep. The Nittany Lions were 12-for-28 from the 3-point line for the game. In the second half they were 7-for-12, fueling their comeback and near victory.
With Maryland being a strong shooting team, too, at 35% from deep, this will be a particular emphasis.
Lastly, Indiana needs to continue the balanced offensive approach that the team had against Penn State. As expected, Trayce Jackson-Davis and Armaan Franklin had good days, scoring 21 and 16 points, each.
The revivals of Rob Phinisee and Al Durham, along with contributions from Trey Galloway, were gigantic, though. All three of those players reached double-digits in scoring against Penn State.
This will need to become the norm for Indiana to be successful against Maryland and other opponents throughout the season. The diversified offense allows pressure to be taken off of Jackson-Davis and Franklin while giving Indiana more options on offense as well as unpredictability to defenses.