Maryland outmuscled Michigan in the first half. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Michigan struggled to get started against a good defensive team. On the other end of the floor, they made a mediocre offense look excellent.
Unlike Wednesday night's game against Penn State, Michigan didn't have it in them to finish off a comeback effort against Maryland. The Wolverines fell behind by as many as 11 in a first half marked by pathetic post defense and wayward outside shooting. Maryland center Damonte Dodd, filling in for injured starter Michal Cekovsky, scored 11 of his career-high 15 points in the opening half. Michigan's post players didn't fare much better on the perimeter—and, in this case, didn't get much help, either:
Melo is a great player, but this is the epitome of terrible defense. pic.twitter.com/aOwvLnKkcu
— Big Ten Geeks (@bigtengeeks) January 7, 2017
Michigan connected on just 3-of-11 three-pointers, meanwhile. A nine-point halftime deficit would've been larger if not for a strong closing effort by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who scored three buckets—all in the paint—over the final five minutes and change. He'd finish with 12 points and four steal in the best game he's had in a while.
After being limited by foul trouble in the first half, Moe Wagner had a stellar offensive showing, pouring in 15 of his 17 poitns in the second stanza; he took Maryland defenders off the dribble by alternating his spin and behind-the-back moves, hit pick-and-pop threes, and worked through contact. While Wagner had gained Michigan an edge in the paint, however, they lost it on the other end with shoddy perimeter defense; the Terps went 6-for-9 from beyond the arc—several of them open looks off of dribble penetration.
The Wolverines were able to get within two points on three different occasions only for Maryland to respond. On Wednesday, Michigan won a game they should've lost. Today, they lost a game they should've lost. There are signs of promise—today, from Wagner, MAAR, and Xavier Simpson—but this team so rarely puts it all together that it's becoming harder and harder to hold out hope for a strong run through Big Ten play.