Ann Arbor, MI – Maryland came to Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor to battle the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan was coming off a loss to unranked Penn State and trying to stay on top of the Big Ten while Maryland entered the contest fresh off an impressive victory over No. 12-ranked Purdue. Michigan withstood a Maryland rally and prevailed 65-52. The leading scorers for Michigan were 6-6 senior Charles Matthews (14 points), 6-7 freshman Ignas Brazdeikis (13 points) and 6-0 junior point guard Zavier Simpson (12 points). Maryland’s leading scorer was 6-6 freshman Aaron Wiggins with 15 points while 6-10 sophomore Bruno Fernando came to life in the second half to add 12 points.
Michigan controlled the contest from the opening tip off with a fast break that led into an early 3-point basket from Simpson. The game continued in Michigan’s favor for the first three possessions and allowed the Wolverines to stretch the lead to 14-2 applying a match-up zone and double teaming Fernando, Maryland’s center. Michigan continued to turn up the defensive pressure, 7-1 center Jon Teske and Brazdeikis held Fernando scoreless the entire half. Michigan’s “sixth man” Isaiah Livers dropped in seven points to help the cause. Livers scored with hard drives to the paint mixed with a few shots from the outside created by tight cuts around picks from Teske and Brazdeikis. Maryland was forced to call a third timeout after the lead was stretched to 15 with 7:11 remaining in the half. The positive, for Michigan was they got a chance to insert some freshman into the line up to give the starters a breather. Maryland’s Jalen Smith and Wiggins tried to keep the Terrapins close with each scoring six points to cut the Wolverines lead to 27-18 at the end of the half.
In the second half Fernando scored a quick six points using his muscle to back down Teske under the basket. This came when Maryland decided to space the floor on offense to take away the double teaming and aggressive defensive assistance from Brazdeikis. This allowed the Terrapins in the paint opportunities to cut the lead down to six points in the later minutes of the game. The second half looked very different for Michigan as it seemed that they spent a lot of energy in the first half guarding Fernando and pressuring the passing lanes to create their early lead. By the 9:12 mark of the second half, Fernando with his aggressive inside play around the basket made Teske look slow. Anthony Cowan Jr. also decided to show some quickness and added eight quick points. On defense, the high screen and rolls were giving the Wolverines trouble defending Fernando as he made high percentage shots while rolling to the basket and leaving Teske standing still. This frustrated Teske for the positive, he decided to show Fernando his offensive skills, hitting a 3-pointer and making three shots off back door cuts leaving Fernando playing high in the paint on help outs. With 2:35 remaining the Wolverines held an 11-point lead and then with 1:12 left, they increased their lead to 13. Matthews, Michigan’s leading scorer, hit a 3-pointer that knocked the wind out of the Terrapins.
The victory pushed Michigan to the top of the Big Ten standings. At the press conference, Maryland’s coach, stated the reason for the loss was too much Michigan defense. Michigan shot 42.4 percent from the field, 26.9 percent on three-pointers and 80 percent from the free throw line. Maryland shot only 36.4 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from distance. Based on the stats, the game should’ve been a closer contest but defense and turnovers made the difference in the outcome. Maryland committed 16 turnovers while Michigan had only six.
Michigan’s next opponent will be Minnesota on Thursday while Maryland will try to start another winning streak when they take on the No. 21-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes.