Maryland basketball had no answer for Hunter Dickinson and the Wolverines.
Happy New Year everyone! The Big Ten had a good New Year’s Eve contest between the No. 16 Michigan Wolverines and Maryland basketball in College Park.
In Maryland’s last two games, we saw a much-improved team on the floor. They played aggressively and energetically against the Purdue Boilermakers and lost. The Terps followed that up with a performance against Wisconsin where everything came together.
In Juwan Howard’s second season with the Wolverines, he has them playing like a well-oiled machine. They were undefeated coming into this game and proved time and time again just how dominant they can be. They have the fourth highest-scoring offense in the Big Ten (82 points per game) and rank first and second respectively in defensive and offensive shooting percentage (36 percent – defense, 51 percent – offense).
Some players to watch for the Wolverines were freshman big man Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers, and Franz Wagner. For the Terps, Eric Ayala has been tremendous as a scorer, passer, and overall leader. Donta Scott has been full of highlights this season. How was Michigan going to defend these two?
The Terps needed to figure out a way to neutralize Dickinson because it has been easy for the seven-footer to make his presence felt on both ends of the floor. The good news for the Terps was they made the Wisconsin bigs uncomfortable by switching up their defensive schemes.
The Terps started the game causing a turnover in their 3-2 zone. Ayala got their first points of the game with a mid-range jumper. He cut the Wolverines early lead to three, 8-5, with a left corner three.
Midway through the first half, the Wolverines took advantage of Maryland’s lack of proper help defense on the perimeter. Wagner made them pay for it with two threes early that gave the Wolverines a 14-7 lead.
Scott started the game hot from the perimeter also with two three-point shots of his own. Both he and Ayala scored all 13 of the Terps points as they were down 21-13 under 12 to go in the first half. Jairus Hamilton gave the Terps two much needed three-point baskets after poor help-side defense led to a converted and-one opportunity by Dickinson.
Maryland basketball fought back to gain momentum and found themselves down three, 30-27, thanks to an Hakim Hart three-ball and a circus layup by Scott.
Scott scored Maryland’s final points of the first half with his fourth three-pointer. As a result, the Terps were down two, 46-44, and he led them. Hamilton and Ayala combined for 19 points.
Five lead changes characterized the pace of this game to start the second half. The Terps had a 52-50 lead heading into the first media timeout. Later in the half, the Wolverines took the lead thanks to a three from Wagner, a Mike Smith jumper, and yet another converted and-one opportunity by Dickinson. The Wolverines went on a 10-0 run before Hamilton scored a much-needed basket to cut the Wolverines lead to four, 60-56, under 12 minutes left in the game.
The Wolverines push their lead to 10, 69-59, thanks to a Livers corner three and more inside scoring from Dickinson. Under nine minutes to go, he had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Wolverines proved they could be a Final Four team with the performance they put on against Maryland basketball. Dickinson had a career day (26 points, 11 rebounds) as he ate Maryland’s frontcourt for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Wagner finished with 19 points. Scott and Ayala led the Terps with 19 and 16 points, respectively. The Wolverines won 84-73 to move to 8-0 (3-0 Big Ten).