About a minute into the second half of Maryland men's basketball's 61-51 win over Rutgers on Saturday, Scarlet Knights guard Corey Sanders turned to teammate Mamadou Doucoure with an expression of disbelief and disgust on his face, and both hands held out in front of him, searching for an explanation.
Rather than make a five-foot inbound pass to Sanders, Doucoure lobbed the ball 30 feet downcourt toward guard Geo Baker, who was at midcourt with his back turned. The pass — which barely reached Baker — was the start of a sequence during which Sanders grew increasingly fed up with his teammates.
Sanders himself was having a nightmarish game, which likely increased his ire. Forward Bruno Fernando dunked on him, the Terps crowd taunted him and he scored just six points on 3-for-14 shooting, far short of his team-high 14.2-point average.
Maryland hopes to continue its defensive success against perimeter players when it faces guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey at Northwestern on Monday night.
"I tried to really stay on him and force him to take tough shots," guard Anthony Cowan said. "I'm just trying to beat him to his spot. Make him take shots over a hand. He's a really good player."
Fernando's first-half dunk over Sanders made SportsCenter and started the frustration for Rutgers' only starting upperclassmen. His buzzer-beating attempt entering halftime just missed, so Maryland's lead remained 31-19, and Sanders was 2-for-7 with four points at intermission.
The Scarlet Knights never came closer than seven points in the second half.
"Teams key in on Corey, but we have other players, too," Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. "Those guys have to step up and do a good job."
When Maryland led by seven with under four minutes left, Cowan swatted Sanders' baseline layup, one of Sanders' four turnovers.
Shortly after, Maryland's student section, which earlier feuded with Sanders, got the last word, slowly chanting "Corey" as the Terps put the finishing touches on their 10-point win.
As Cowan dribbled the game clock out with 10 seconds remaining, Sanders marched off the court and untucked his jersey after one of his worst performances of the season.
"[Cowan] did a great job," guard Darryl Morsell said. "Any time he gets a chance to play against another good guard in conference, he's going to take that challenge."
Maryland's defensive gameplan will likely be similar Monday against McIntosh and Lindsey, who have combined for 26.4 points per game this season. The Terps struggled with perimeter defense early in Big Ten play but have improved recently.
On Feb. 10, the Terps held McIntosh — a senior — scoreless for the first time in his career, partly by double-teaming him whenever he came off ball screens. Lindsey scored 20 points on 20 shots.
"I don't think he really put up that many of his shots," Cowan said of McIntosh after Maryland's 73-57 win over the Wildcats. "I tried to stay in front of him, just making sure he didn't get into a rhythm."