Michi­gan turns on de­fense to top Terps

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - COL­LEGE BAS­KET­BALL -

at home this sea­son. It was the 22nd straight vic­tory at home over­all for Michi­gan (23-3, 12-3). The Wolver­ines are 9-1 against ranked op­po­nents at home the past three sea­sons.

“I thought Michi­gan was ter­rific, es­pe­cially at the de­fen­sive end,” Mary­land coach Mark Tur­geon said. “I’m sure they'd like to play a lit­tle bet­ter of­fen­sively. De­fen­sively, they were every­where di­aled in.”

It didn’t sur­prise Tur­geon, con­sid­er­ing that the Wolver­ines were com­ing off a shock­ing 75-69 loss at Penn State on Tues­day in a game where coach John Beilein was ejected right be­fore half­time.

“You could tell as a team com­ing off a loss, they re­sponded well,” said Tur­geon, whose teams are now 0-19 against ranked teams on the road in his eight years in Col­lege Park.

Still, Tur­geon ac­knowl­edged that his team dug an early hole for it­self by play­ing care­lessly with the ball, not go­ing strong enough to the bas­ket and fail­ing to get back on de­fense at sev­eral key mo­ments.

“The ob­vi­ous is that we built too big a hole,” Tur­geon said. “Against a great team, you can’t do that and we did it. We bat­tled it. We cut it to four and An­thony [Cowan Jr.] missed a layup and we cut it to three with about [10 min­utes] to go and we had some bad pos­ses­sions after that.”

Asked how much of Mary­land’s abysmal first half was the re­sult of Michi­gan’s de­fense or his own team’s self-de­struc­tive ten­den­cies — the Terps had more turnovers (11) than points (10) late in the half — Tur­geon said it was both.

“A lot if it was their de­fense and lot of it was not ex­e­cut­ing,” Tur­geon said. “I thought we missed some bun­nies (easy shots) around the rim, Bruno [Fer­nando] was over­think­ing it. … It may have kind of snow­balled on us. We had some out­landish turnovers in that stretch.

“A lot of it was our turnovers and our in­abil­ity to score around the rim af­fected our tran­si­tion de­fense a lit­tle bit. They had like five un­con­tested layups in the first half. You can’t beat Michi­gan not do­ing that.”

Cowan was even more suc­cinct. “They got up to play and we didn’t,” Cowan said.

At half­time, Mary­land had hit just seven of 24 shots and had com­mit­ted 13 turnovers. Tur­geon said he felt for­tu­nate that his team trailed by only nine points, 27-18, given that Cowan, Fer­nando and fresh­man guard Eric Ay­ala were a com­bined 1-for-11 from the field. Ay­ala fin­ished the game score­less, miss­ing all seven shots, in­clud­ing five 3-point­ers. Cowan fin­ished with 10 points, five re­bounds and three as­sists.

“To be down nine, are you kid­ding me?” Tur­geon said. “Against this team in this build­ing? I told the team that. They re­sponded. We just couldn’t guard them. I thought we guarded them bet­ter in the first half.

“We gave up a lot of layups, wide-open layups, which we haven’t been do­ing. Hope­fully we’ll learn from it. A lot of it was com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and just want-to out there. Yeah, we felt lucky to be down nine.”

After a 3-poin­ter by fresh­man guard Ser­rel Smith pulled the Terps to within three, 42-39, with 10:21 to go, Mary­land had a chance to tie the game after Michi­gan cen­ter Jon Teske missed a 3-poin­ter.

But Cowan missed a cor­ner 3pointer, the first of sev­eral misses that seemed to be fol­lowed by Michi­gan 3-point­ers, in­clud­ing one by fresh­man guard Ig­nas Brazdeikis that pushed the lead back to eight after Cowan missed an un­con­tested layup.

“I was just dis­ap­pointed after An­thony missed the layup that we didn’t run back on de­fense the next two pos­ses­sions. To me, that was the game,” Tur­geon said. “We’ve played through mis­takes and through things all year, and to­day it looked like we didn’t do that at times.”

Tough start for Fer­nando: De­spite scor­ing all 12 of his points in the sec­ond half, the 6-foot-10 An­golan saw his streak of seven straight dou­ble dou­bles end when he pulled down eight re­bounds.

But it was on the de­fen­sive end that Fer­nando strug­gled, al­low­ing the Wolver­ines to get sev­eral easy tran­si­tion bas­kets or dunks when he was nowhere to be found.

“He let his of­fense af­fect his de­fense,” Tur­geon said. “We were play­ing four on five out there de­fen­sively, and Bruno has been one of our best de­fend­ers, right?

“That was the most dis­ap­point­ing thing. I can han­dle the missed jump hooks. You’ve got to bring it at the other end. He hasn’t done that all year. The sec­ond half he was ter­rific. He was much bet­ter.”

Tur­geon also gave credit to Teske for frus­trat­ing the Terps in gen­eral, but Fer­nando in par­tic­u­lar.

“Teske was every­where — pro­tect­ing the rim, ball-screen de­fense,” Tur­geon said.

Wig­gins heat­ing up: After hit­ting four of six shots, in­clud­ing three of five 3-point­ers, in 17 min­utes dur­ing Tues­day’s win over Pur­due, Wig­gins fin­ished 5-for-10 over­all, in­clud­ing 3-for-6 on 3-point­ers Satur­day. He also had six re­bounds and three as­sists in 28 min­utes.

Wig­gins has played some of his best games on the road this sea­son, also scor­ing 15 in a 69-55 loss last month at Michi­gan State and 11 in a win at Ohio State.

“It’s just re­main­ing con­fi­dent,” Wig­gins said. “My team­mates be­lieve in me, my coach be­lieves in me. I’m just go­ing to con­tinue to play hard and hit open shots. That’s all it is.”

In­stant anal­y­sis: Mary­land looked like two dif­fer­ent teams. The Terps were com­pletely lost in the first half, and could have been down even more if the Wolver­ines had hit their 3s. The sec­ond half showed how ef­fi­cient Mary­land’s of­fense can be, but when the Terps had a chance to make it a game down to the wire, they failed to ex­e­cute. Give some credit to Michi­gan’s de­fense, but Mary­land couldn’t quite get over what had been a pretty siz­able hump.

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MARY­LAND (19-7): J.Smith 3-10 2-3 8, Fer­nando 5-10 2-2 12, Morsell 1-1 0-0 2, Ay­ala 0-7 0-0 0, Cowan 4-12 0-0 10, Lindo 1-2 0-1 2, To­maic 0-0 0-0 0, S.Smith 1-3 0-0 3, Wig­gins 5-10 2-2 15. To­tals 20-55 6-8 52.

MICHI­GAN (23-3): Brazdeikis 4-11 2-2 13, Teske 4-13 0-2 9, Simp­son 4-6 2-2 12, Poole 2-7 4-4 8, Matthews 7-12 0-0 14, Johns 0-1 0-0 0, Liv­ers 3-6 0-0 7, Brooks 0-1 0-0 0, DeJulius 1-2 0-0 2. To­tals 25-59 8-10 65.

Half­time—Michi­gan 27-18. 3-Point Goals—Mary­land 6-22 (Wig­gins 3-6, Cowan 2-7, S.Smith 1-2, J.Smith 0-2, Ay­ala 0-5), Michi­gan 7-26 (Brazdeikis 3-8, Simp­son 2-2, Liv­ers 1-4, Teske 1-7, Matthews 0-1, DeJulius 0-1, Poole 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Re­bounds— Mary­land 37 (Fer­nando 8), Michi­gan 30 (Matthews 6). As­sists— Mary­land 11 (Wig­gins, Cowan 3), Michi­gan 15 (Simp­son 8). To­tal Fouls—Mary­land 12, Michi­gan 13. A—12,707 (12,707).

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