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Terps Fall To Michigan On Senior Day, Clinch Losing Record In Big Ten

February 24, 2018
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman’s sixth 3-pointer of the first half capped a 43-12 run for the Michigan men’s basketball team over the final 13:30 of the first half at Maryland Feb. 24, which led to an 85-61 loss for the Terps and clinched a losing record in the Big Ten regular season for the first time since the school joined the conference four years ago.

The 24-point loss is the worst Maryland has suffered at home since 1998, per Patrick Stevens. The Terps finished the regular season 19-12 overall and 8-10 in the Big Ten.

“I just didn’t have us ready,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. “Michigan was terrific, made every shot, we couldn’t guard them. Our offense wasn’t good enough; we let our offense affect our defense. Since the [22-point loss at Ohio State Jan. 11], we’ve been pretty good in 11 straight games. Today we weren’t, and I’ll take the blame for that.”

Michigan had a 54-24 lead at halftime thanks to shooting 11-for-19 from beyond the arc over the first 20 minutes. Abdur-Rahkman led the Wolverines by shooting 6-of-10 from 3-point range in a 22-point first half performance, and fellow guard Jordan Poole was 3-for-4 from deep in the first half.

Michigan didn’t score until nearly four minutes into the game when an Abdur-Rahkman 3-pointer got the Wolverines started. Michigan converted stops on the defensive end -- the Terps shot just 10-for-28 in the first half -- into points on the other end. Armed with terrific spacing -- Michigan often has five shooters on the floor at once -- along with crisp ball movement in half court sets and in transition, the Wolverines scored more than 1.6 points per possession in the first half.

Michigan was playing at a different speed than Maryland for much of the first half, but the Terps’ energy seemed to dwindle in particular as the half came to a close, as their transition defense, closeouts on 3-pointers and switches were all lackluster. Michigan turned a 19-point lead into 30 over the final five minutes of the first half.

“We kind of reverted back to our old selves for a stretch when we weren’t guarding the 3-point line, and they started to get going and they had a lot of guys get hot,” sophomore guard Kevin Huerter, who scored 12 points, said. “A lot of their shots were contested, but a lot of them were wide open where we didn’t rotate the way we should’ve, and we were helping a little too much on guys we didn’t need to and their shooters got too good of looks.”

The Terps were 1-for-8 from 3-point range in the first half and failed to convert opportunities in the paint into points. Maryland’s game plan from the opening tip appeared to be to drive to the rim, but the Terps were often met by a swarming Michigan defense that forced them into uncomfortable looks.

Turgeon went to a five-guard lineup for much of the second half, which included rarely-used walk-on freshman guard Reese Mona, and that sparked the Terps some. Sophomore guard Anthony Cowan did a nice job of getting to the rim and drawing contact in the second half, as well, and finished with 17 points on the day. Still, Michigan’s 30-point halftime lead was far too much to overcome.

“We couldn’t get stops and couldn’t score. It almost felt like everything was going great for them and nothing was good for us,” Cowan said. “I felt like a lot of our shots went in and out, loose balls [went] their way instead of ours. Honestly, I think nothing really went our way today.”

Feb. 24 marked Senior Day for guard Jared Nickens, center Michal Cekovsky and center Sean Obi. Nickens and Cekovsky have been with the program since the 2014-15 season and came to Maryland as part of the same recruiting class as Melo Trimble and redshirt junior guard Dion Wiley. Obi, meantime, began his college career at Rice during the 2013-14 season. He then transferred to Duke, where he battled injuries, and transferred to Maryland last spring to finish his college career in College Park.

Nickens played in his 135th consecutive game Feb. 24 since joining the program and finished with five points. Cekovsky scored four points and Obi none, with the latter playing just two minutes towards the end of the loss. Turgeon was asked whether he considered starting Nickens and Cekovsky, both of whom came off the bench Feb. 24. Cowan, Huerter, Wiley and freshmen guard Darryl Morsell and forward Bruno Fernando started.

“I’m one of those guys that sometimes I do it, sometimes I don’t,” Turgeon said of starting seniors on Senior Day. “We had won two in a row. Like I said, we [had] played well in like 11 straight games. Four or five games in row with the lineup, we’ve been really good. We’ve started games well, we’ve started halves well, and that’s why I went with it -- because this game was pretty important to us. We didn’t play like it, but it was pretty important to us.”

With no shot an at-large bid, the Terps will have to win the Big Ten Tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament. Maryland's first Big Ten Tournament game will be against Wisconsin at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y. at noon, March 1.

Note: After the game, Turgeon commented on a Yahoo! Sports report that named former Maryland center Diamond Stone in a list of many high school and college players that accepted loans by ASM Sports. 

Follow Luke on Twitter @luke_jackson10 

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox