Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Maryland men’s basketball fell heavily against Michigan on Sunday afternoon with an 81-46 throttling as the Terps’ worst game of the season coincided with perhaps the Wolverines’ best. The contest was never close as Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson walked off the field with 32 points and 12 rebounds. The 35-point loss was the largest the Terps had suffered since joining the Big Ten a decade ago.
The Terps (11-3, 1-2 in the Big Ten) had hoped to cobble together another winning streak – winning their first eight games of the season, then losing their next three and beating St. Peter’s and prevailing in their final matchups UMBC – on the way to the conference game.
“Three or four games, we got off to a bad start,” said Maryland coach Kevin Willard after the loss. “We just couldn’t find our way out.”
The Terps had mixed success at the 2022 conference. They defeated the Fighting Illini in a dramatic affair that culminated in Jahmir Young heroically burying a clutch three with 14 seconds left, only to fail in the next game against Wisconsin.
The Wolverines (7-5, 1-0 in the Big Ten game against Minnesota) started the season with four straight wins but suffered back-to-back losses, including a recent 5-8 loss to Central Michigan on Thursday.
Heading into Sunday’s matchup, Michigan and Terps were tied at 27 rebounds per game. Michigan’s average was well behind Terrence Williams and DeMatha’s own Hunter Dickinson, who had combined 15 rebounds a night. Dickinson had also led the Wolverines in scoring, with the 7’1 junior center putting up nearly 18–12 games on a regular basis.
The Terps returned to the lineup they had used in all but their last two games, with forward Julian Reese making a full return from a shoulder injury and Don Carey returning from the bench. Carey came away with a 19-point blast Thursday against UMBC, where he was responsible for five of Maryland’s six three-pointers.
Maryland dug into a hole in the first three minutes, falling 10-0 and suffering two turnovers. Dickinson established himself early, pecking and popping to score the first bucket, then pulling a foul on Reese and finally bulling his way to the rack in that short span to help put the Wolverines in front.
Within five minutes, the Wolverines went from the field seven to seven while Maryland went scoreless on six tries to hold on to the wrong end of a 16-0 deficit. Dickinson finally got out after eating Reese alive in the post and using sly moves to shoot four for four.
The Terps finally ended the goal drought when Noah Batchelor pulled a foul after six minutes while scoring a three-pointer but conceding just one of three free-throws. They only connected with a field goal eight minutes into the game when Ian Martinez finally pocketed a three to level the score at 19-4. The dominant Dickinson came back the other way and deflated another shot from mid-range, leaving Maryland looking utterly outmatched.
The Michigan defense set up a clinic to keep the terps from entering the arc and constantly rotated to make the shooters uncomfortable. Reese caught two quick fouls on Dickinson but had to stay in the game as he served as Maryland’s best chance of defending him.
At the half Michigan had a bewildering 44-13 lead. Maryland somehow had more shots than Michigan (30-27) but tied on only four of them. The Wolverines had hit on 18 of 27 tries, a hyper-efficient clip of 67%. They had commanded the boards from the jump and were leading that class 26-12 in 20 minutes. Dickinson led all goalscorers at 18 — more than the entire Maryland roster during that period.
Kobe Bufkin exemplified Michigan’s impressive defense, grabbing three steals in the first half. On the rare occasions when the Terps forced a turnover and initiated a quick break, the Wolverines blocked the lane and held Maryland two points down while scoring 15 on the same occasion.
Maryland’s Jahari Long came off the bench after the break and picked up five points to put his team back in the game, but Dickinson continued his reign of terror with a flurry of finishes to take his point total to 26. His nine rebounds to that point also beat the terps, with Reese and backup Patrick Emilien combining for four.
Emilien fouled 14 minutes from time in the second half, sending Reese back with his three fouls and it was only seconds before he committed another. He committed his fifth and final offense midway through the period, paving the way for the rarely used Caelum Swanton-Rodger to try and slow Dickinson.
Michigan Center finished with six minutes to go after accumulating 32 points, one just below his career high. He led the Wolverines’ paint skills as his team outplayed the Terps in that area 42-22. His 12 rebounds gave him the 20th double-double of his college career.
Long finished with nine points, several of which ended up in trash time, earning him the team’s highest score. Young, Donta Scott and Hakim Hart combined for just 18 points on 7-27 shooting.
“We need to figure out how to score against bigger teams,” Willard said. “It has nothing to do with the players. It’s entirely up to me, and I’m going to do it right.”
Maryland’s next chance comes Thursday against Rutgers in Piscataway when the Terps will look to recreate a .500 conference record.