Maryland men’s basketball falls to Wisconsin, 74-70, for 5th loss in 6 games

Maryland men’s basketball was the cure for what ailed Wisconsin.

Losers of five of their past six games, the host Badgers took their third lead of the game midway through the first half and never surrendered that cushion to forge a 74-70 win against the Terps on Tuesday night at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

Fifth-year senior point guard Jahmir Young scored a game-high 20 points and added three assists and two rebounds, junior power forward Julian Reese chipped in 18 points and seven rebounds, and fifth-year senior small forward Donta Scott racked up 12 points, three rebounds and three assists before fouling out late in regulation. But Maryland (14-13, 6-10 Big Ten) could not bounce back from Saturday’s 85-80 setback to then-No. 14 Illinois and lost for the fifth time in six games so far in February.

Graduate student power forward Tyler Wahl led Wisconsin (18-9, 10-6) with 18 points and six rebounds, and junior shooting guard Max Klesmit scored 16 points. Junior point guard Chucky Hepburn added 11 points and four rebounds, and sophomore shooting guard A.J. Storr amassed 10 points and eight rebounds. The Badgers picked up their second victory in their past three games and reached 10 wins in the conference for the 20th time in the past 23 years.

Here are three observations from Tuesday night’s game.

Maryland’s Big 3 wasn’t enough

It was a familiar storyline of Young, Reese and Scott carrying the offense with little aid from their teammates.

That trio accounted for 50 of the Terps’ 70 points. Then again, they launched a combined 38 of the offense’s total 51 attempts and made 18 of them.

Senior small forward Jordan Geronimo returned after sitting out Saturday’s game because of an injured right knee (which was also wrapped) and to the starting lineup for the first time in four games. But he accrued only two points and three rebounds.

Fellow starter and freshman shooting guard DeShawn Harris-Smith had eight points on 2 of 6 shots, and freshman small forward Jamie Kaiser Jr. and senior point guard Jahari Long came off the bench to score eight and two points, respectively. But the production ended there — and so did the Terps’ hopes of coming away with a victory.

Foul trouble troubles Terps

In Saturday’s loss to Illinois, the Fighting Illini converted 32 of 36 free-throw attempts, while the Terps went 24 of 29 from the line.

Tuesday night’s matchup reflected a similar discrepancy. Wisconsin connected on 28 of 31 free throws, while Maryland sank 17 of 23 free throws as the latter was forced to foul the former in the final minute in an attempt to remain within striking distance.

In the first half, the disparity at the line was also distinct. The Terps committed their seventh foul to put the Badgers in the one-and-one bonus with 6:26 left in the first half, and their 10th foul gave Wisconsin a double-bonus situation with 2:37 remaining.

Throw in a technical foul on coach Kevin Willard with 29.6 seconds left, and the Badgers drained 11 of 12 free throws compared with only 4 of 6 trips for Maryland in the opening frame. One has to wonder if the Terps’ odds would have been much improved if they had avoided the kind of foul that contributed to that eight-point deficit at halftime.

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Besides Scott fouling out with 15 seconds remaining in regulation, Geronimo, Harris-Smith and Long flirted with joining Scott on the bench as each player was saddled with four fouls.

Maryland lost the battle of the boards

As poorly as the Terps have played this month, they entered the game ranked fifth in the Big Ten in rebounding at 36.9 per game and had outrebounded their past four opponents.

That pattern ended against Wisconsin, which earned a 33-24 advantage in rebounds. The Badgers didn’t convert those opportunities into second-chance points — they owned a slight 6-5 lead in that department — but their ability to control the glass allowed them to dictate the game’s tempo and put even more pressure on Maryland to be more efficient from the floor (46.2% overall but 33.3% from 3-point range).

In four of five losses in February, Wisconsin had finished on the wrong end of the rebounding battle. But the Terps couldn’t turn that vulnerability into an area of strength.

This story will be updated.

Maryland at Rutgers

Sunday, noon

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