Sports

Wildcats hit road to challenge 13th-ranked Terrapins

College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Having recently suffered their third loss of the season, the 13th-ranked Maryland Terrapins try to get back on track when they entertain the Northwestern Wildcats in Big Ten Conference action on Sunday night.

Mired in a five-game losing streak, Northwestern is hoping for something positive here in 2015. The Wildcats, who began Big Ten play with a 51-47 win at Rutgers on Dec. 30, dropped a two-point decision to visiting Ohio State on Thursday, earning the team its third straight home loss.

Maryland was beaten soundly by Indiana in Bloomington on Thursday night, 89-70, putting an end to the team's modest three-game win streak. It was by far the most points surrendered by the Terps this season, and it dropped the team to 17-3 overall and 5-2 in this, its first season as a member of the Big Ten.

The series between these new conference foes is tied at 1-1, with Northwestern winning the first meeting back in 1958 (66-62) and Maryland the second in 2012 (77-57).

Northwestern got 16 points from Alex Olah, 14 from Tre Demps and a dozen from Bryant McIntosh, but those efforts went to waste as the Wildcats came out on the short end of a 69-67 final against Ohio State at Welsh-Ryan Arena three nights ago. The Buckeyes made good on 52.8 percent of their field goal attempts, which included a 9-of-19 showing from 3-point range, but the 'Cats kept it close by going 12-of-14 at the free-throw line, claiming a narrow edge on the glass (32-29), and by also outscoring OSU in the paint (26-22), off turnovers (12-6) and in bench points (18-11).

As it so happens, Demps (12.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg), McIntosh (11.9 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Olah (11.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg) are the only players averaging double figures for the Wildcats this season, the team as a whole netting only 64.7 ppg. Northwestern has remained relevant by playing tight defense, the team yielding a mere 62.4 ppg behind a typical shooting effort of only 41.6 percent. With Olah leading the way, the 'Cats are in the black with regard to turnover margin (+2.9), but they usually come up short in the turnover battle (-1.4).

Maryland stayed close to Indiana in the first half, but the Hoosiers got incredibly hot after the break, hitting 72 percent of their second-stanza shots to put the game away. Jake Layman scored 13 points, Jared Nickens tacked on 12 and Melo Trimble chipped in 10, but the Terps allowed the home team to hit 15-of-22 3-point tries as part of a 60 percent shooting effort overall. Maryland finished at 50.9 percent from the field, which included 10 treys, but the Hoosiers earned a 14-6 edge in points at the foul line.

Trimble is averaging 15.8 ppg to lead Maryland's potent offensive attack, as the team generates 72.8 ppg in knocking down 37.6 percent of its 3-point tries and close to 75 percent of its free throws. The Terrapins permit just 62.8 ppg, with foes shooting a paltry 38.6 percent from the floor, which includes a 29.9 percent showing from beyond the arc. Layman (14.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Dez Wells (13.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) round the double-digit scorers for a UM squad that is +4.3 in rebounding differential, but is in the red with respect to turnovers (-0.6).