Maryland just played the most important half of basketball that they’ll play all season long.
The Terps had entered the night just 2-2 in league play — with wins over Boston College and Georgia Tech — and 10-7 overall. They had lost their last two games and had been beaten by every relevant team they played. Their best win on the season? Either the Yellow Jackets or Northern Iowa. That’s not good.
On Wednesday, Maryland hosted a Notre Dame team that had lost two in a row since their surprising win over a struggling Duke team at home. Remember the game that Jabari Parker got benched for playing so poorly? Yeah, that was against the Irish. Point being, Maryland had a chance to pick off another stumbling, middle-of-the-ACC-pack team in a game that they really, really needed to win, and ten minutes into the game, the Terps were already down double-digits.
Notre Dame took a 34-25 lead into the half, but in the final 20 minutes, Maryland took over. They went on a 16-2 run to open up the second half, extending their to as much as 12 before holding on and winning 74-66.
Dez Wells scored 17 points, all in the second half, and Seth Allen went for 14 in his first start of the season, but what won this game for Maryland was their defense. They were much more active in the final 20 minutes, turning Notre Dame over and forcing them into tough shots.
It’s going to be an uphill battle for the Terps if they want to make the NCAA tournament, but this is a good way to start to turn things around.
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.
No. 23 USC missed a golden opportunity to make up a game in the Pac-12 standings on Friday night.
No. 11 Oregon lost to Colorado on Thursday night, dropping back into a tie for first place in the league with the Trojans, a game ahead of No. 17 Arizona. But USC fell at Arizona State, 74-67, keeping them a game off of the pace that the Ducks have set.
The loss is even more painful when you consider that, on Sunday, the Trojans will be making the trip to Tucson to take on Arizona. The Wildcats are not what we have become accustomed to seeing under Sean Miller, but they are still a top 25 team and the McKale Center is still one of the toughest places in the country to get a win.
Thanks to Friday’s loss, instead of entering McKale with an outside chance of taking over sole possession of first place in the league, USC will have top hope they don’t fall two games off the pace.
As far as the game itself was concerned, USC committed 17 turnovers, shot 2-for-11 from three and gave up 16 offensive rebounds to Arizona State. That’s how you lose a game where you shoot better than 51 percent from the floor. USC was just never able to consistently get out into transition, and that caused them to struggle executing in the half court.
Nikola Jovanovic led the way with 25 points and 15 boards for USC.
Tra Holder’s 20 points made the difference for Arizona State, who kept themselves within striking distance of an at-large bid with the win.