College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Hoping to keep pace atop the Big Ten Conference standings, the 14th-ranked Maryland Terrapins face the Michigan State Spartans for the second time this season, this time at the Xfinity Center on Saturday afternoon.
The 2014 portion of this current campaign saw Michigan State log a 9-5 record, with the fifth setback coming against this same Maryland squad in East Lansing on Dec, 30, 68-66, in double-overtime. Since then, the Spartans have won three in a row, with the latest being an 84-77 overtime decision at home versus Northwestern last Sunday.
Maryland has enjoyed tremendous success in this, its first season as a member of the Big Ten. The Terrapins bring a 16-2 record into this contest, and they've won two straight since suffering a 64-57 setback at Illinois on Jan. 7. At 4-1 in conference, the Terps are tied with Wisconsin for first place heading into the weekend.
Maryland's win a few weeks ago knotted the all-time series between the teams at 3-3.
All five starters scored in double figures for Michigan State, but the team needed an extra session to settle its differences with visiting Northwestern last weekend. Travis Trice scored 18 points and dished out 10 assists to lead the Spartans, who shot an even 50 percent from the field, despite missing the mark on eight of their 11 3-point attempts. The Wildcats stayed in the game by converting 12-of-25 long-range launches. Denzel Valentine tallied 17 points, and Branden Dawson was close to notching a double-double of his own as he finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. MSU only turned the ball over seven times, while outscoring NU in the paint (34-26) and off giveaways (22-10).
Trice (14.3 ppg, 6.1 apg), Valentine (14.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4.2 apg) and Dawson (11.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg) are all averaging double figures for Michigan State this season, helping the team as a whole generate 74.7 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .482 overall and .413 from beyond the arc. The Spartans are connecting on only 64.6 percent of their free throws, but they play pretty stingy defense in permitting just 61.1 ppg, with foes shooting 37.8 percent from the floor, including 28.5 percent from downtown. A +7.8 rebounding margin also helps MSU win more often than not.
Maryland took down visiting Rutgers in its most recent outing, using a productive first half to stave off the upset-minded Scarlet Knights. The Terps shot 46.4 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes before cooling off to a chilly 24.2 percent after the break. The team nailed 11 3-pointers in the game, four of which were credited to Jared Nickens. Dez Wells scored 17 points to pace the squad, while Jake Layman recorded a double-double with 12 points and 13 boards. A 20-8 edge in points from the foul line coupled with a 46-33 advantage on the glass played a huge roles in the positive outcome for Maryland.
Sporting similar scoring averages to their opponent today, the Terrapins are putting up 72.8 ppg while allowing only 61.6 ppg. They are also +4.9 in rebounding differential, and there are three double-digit scorers on the roster in Melo Trimble (15.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Layman (14.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Wells (14.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg). UM's defensive stand stifles the opposition to just 37.3 percent field goal efficiency, which includes a 28.4 percent showing from 3-point land. The Terps are also making the most of their free-throw opportunities, converting them at a 74.7 percent clip.