On Sunday, Maryland men's basketball botched a golden chance to improve its tournament resume when it coughed up a 13-point halftime lead to No. 6 Michigan State in a 74-68 loss.
Upon rewatching the game, we can see a whole bunch of moments that proved pivotal to the Spartans leaving College Park with a win. Let's go through them in chronological order.
Maryland started the game with an 8-0 run, sending Xfinity Center into a loud frenzy that caused Tom Izzo to take an early timeout. Shortly after that break, Kevin Huerter blocked Nick Ward, but the Terps weren't able to take advantage of the rejection, turning the ball over. A block and a bucket on the other end would have been a great way for Maryland to come out strong after the timeout, and the team failed to capitalize.
Successful alley-oops are quite possibly the most exciting play in basketball, as someone soars up to throw down a dunk. Failed alley-oops are just disappointing: The fans see the lob get thrown, the player leaps for the pass and there's that moment of excitement knowing you're about to see an alley-oop — and then it doesn't happen.
This is what happened here, as Bruno Fernando made fans briefly excited, then disappointed, as he couldn't get two points from Anthony Cowan's pass. Then, to make matters worse, his second attempt got blocked.
I promise this article isn't just meant to pick on Bruno. But when you fail to finish two alley-oops in less than three minutes, it certainly stings in a loss. Michigan State also got a quick bucket in transition right after that, which made the missed dunk look even worse.
The Terps already had two missed dunks in the first half.
*Billy Mays voice* But wait, there's more!
In what was a pretty rough half for Maryland's freshmen, Darryl Morsell tried to get an offensive rebound by just dunking the ball, but he never had a firm grasp on it and Joshua Langford snatched it.
This is a really great move by Huerter to create this much space for his shot. And then he missed it. When you have a 13-point halftime lead against the No. 6 team in the country, and they're starting to chip into it in the second half, and you need to get on the board to stop their momentum, an open shot like this failing to go in hurts. Or should we say… Huerts.
At this point of the game, Maryland's 13-point lead was a distant memory, but the game was hardly over, with Michigan State ahead by four with under nine minutes to play. The Terps forced a turnover, but then Dion Wiley and Darryl Morsell had a miscommunication as Wiley passed it to where he thought Morsell was going to be. It was a wasted chance against a team where you can't afford to waste them.
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Pretty simple stuff here — if the Terps grab the rebound, they would have had a chance to tie the game or pull ahead. They did not and that wound up really being the dagger in this loss.
This was maybe Maryland's last chance to make a comeback. Instead of kicking the ball outside, Cowan drives to the rim, where Jaren Jackson stuffs him and gives the ball back to the Spartans. In this situation, the 6-foot guard probably shouldn't try to take on the 6-foot-11 forward who's blocked the most shots in the Big Ten — especially when Wiley is open beyond the arc, and you're trailing by four.