By Harry Allison
Jalen Smith had 14 points and 15 rebounds for Maryland (18-4, 8-3 Big Ten) in the Terps’ 565-51 over visiting Rutgers.
The Terrapins trailed 25-20 at halftime after shooting 24%. With Smith leading the way, Maryland emerged from the break with a 14-4 run and held off a late surge by the Scarlet Knights to improve to 13-0 at home.
“We had to have a good start in the second half and we did,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “We really guarded well in that stretch.”
Smith, a 6-10 sophomore, notched his fifth straight double-double. He had a 3-pointer and a three-point play in succession to put the Terps ahead 34-29, and the margin swelled to eight points before Rutgers (16-7, 7-5) rallied.
In the end, Maryland’s defense was just too good.
“Defense is what fuels us,” Smith said.
Akwasi Yeboah scored 13 for the Scarlet Knights, who shot 34% and went 3 for 17 from beyond the arc. Rutgers is 0-8 against Maryland since both teams joined the Big Ten in 2014.
Still, these aren’t the same Scarlet Knights who won only nine conference games during their first four years in the Big Ten.
“We’re picked 12th in the league. We’re playing teams that are picked first, second, third, fourth coming up,” Pikiell said. “So we’ll be fine. Keep working, keep staying the course.”
Maryland went 7 for 29 from the floor in the first half, made only two baskets over the final 12 minutes and fell behind at the break despite holding Rutgers without a point over the final 5 minutes.
Smith had eight points and five rebounds in the opening seven minutes to stake the Terrapins to a 14-6 lead. But Maryland missed 14 of its next 16 shots and went scoreless for more than 7 1/2 minutes while Rutgers went on a 19-4 run that included a trio of 3-pointers by Yeboah.
Cowan finally ended the drought with two free throws.