Maryland runs out of answers for Hunter Dickinson and Michigan
By Emily Giambalvo,
Early in Michigan’s game at Xfinity Center, Hunter Dickinson stared down the Maryland bench after he scored — making his intentions very clear to the opposing coaches.
Dickinson, a freshman center who starred at nearby DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, faced his hometown school for the first time and played with an edge befitting a player who felt overlooked by the locals during his recruitment. He delivered a career-high 26 points to lead the No. 16 Wolverines to an emphatic 84-73 over the Terps.
Maryland, with a chance to knock off two ranked opponents in one week, went step for step with Michigan until about midway through the second half. Just three days ago, a late surge led the Terrapins (6-4, 1-3 Big Ten) to an upset win over No. 6 Wisconsin. But on New Year’s Eve, the 7-foot-1 Dickinson and the Wolverines were too much to overcome. With about 15 minutes left in the game, Maryland led by one. From there, the Wolverines (8-0, 3-0) dominated.
“They were shot out of a cannon,” Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said of Michigan. “They made shots. They were great. We couldn’t guard them. They got downhill. . . . Dickinson, he was a man possessed. He was really, really, really good tonight.”
Sophomore forward Donta Scott has lately emerged as Maryland’s best player, and his strong run of form continued with 19 points. Scott hit all five of his attempts from three-point range and has reached double figures in eight consecutive games. Junior guard Eric Ayala also had a strong outing with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting. But Maryland’s defensive effort couldn’t offer enough support.
“I don’t think we guarded as well as we could,” Ayala said, when asked about the struggles in the second half. “. . . Just being ready to guard, that’s where we kind of lost the game — on the defensive end.”
The Terps’ brief second-half lead was answered with a 10-0 run by the Wolverines. After a couple of baskets for Maryland, Michigan generated another offensive burst. After Franz Wagner dunked in transition off a turnover by Aaron Wiggins, Turgeon called a timeout with his team trailing by 10. But the Terps still couldn’t stop Michigan, which had scored 13 straight points before Wiggins’s jumper ended Maryland’s scoreless stretch. Around that time, Turgeon said, his players “started to hang our heads.”
Late in the first half, Maryland senior Darryl Morsell was elbowed in the face. He left the game and never returned to the floor, his face in his hands and a towel over his head at times during the final minutes before halftime. Morsell returned to the bench wearing sweats during the second half and was taken to the shock trauma center in Baltimore for further evaluation Thursday evening. His parents met him there. Turgeon said he did not know the extent of Morsell’s injury or how long it might keep him out.
The absence of Morsell, perhaps the team’s strongest defender, was especially acute in the second half.
“Everything changed when Darryl got hurt,” Turgeon said. “We were a thin team before. We became even thinner. Donta had to play the whole game. He was exhausted. He was terrific. There are a lot of things that need to be navigated between now and Monday.”
Maryland started the game shooting 9 of 11 from three-point range, with Scott hitting all four of his attempts, but the Terps had trouble scoring in the paint. Five Michigan players registered blocks in the first half, while the Terps only made 4 of 11 layups and 1 of 2 dunks. Meanwhile, Michigan shot 58.3 percent and scored 15 points from the foul line on 16 attempts.
The Terps never led in the first half but entered intermission trailing just 46-44 after Scott’s three-pointer six seconds before the buzzer.
“I thought we had things going in the right direction,” Turgeon said. “I really did.”
In addition to Dickinson’s strong performance, three other Wolverines finished in double figures — Wagner (19 points), along with fellow guards Mike Smith (16 points) and Eli Brooks (10 points).
Dickinson told reporters this week that he felt “a little disrespected” by Maryland during the recruiting process. After the game, Dickinson said, referring to DeMatha, which is two miles from Maryland’s campus: “Hopefully I showed that the guys down the road at Madison Street are good. They should go down there sometime.”
During the first half, Dickinson’s looks toward the Maryland bench after scoring led to a commotion that prompted both benches to pick up a technical foul. When he stared again, Dickinson was called for the technical. The first half featured four technical fouls, with Turgeon also called for one about six minutes before the break.
“He manhandled our guards in there,” Turgeon said of Dickinson. “We are who we are, and we’ve got to figure out a way to guard with this lineup. I’m going to put the best players on the floor, and if they’re all 6-6 or shorter, that’s what we’re going to do.”
The last time Maryland and Michigan met, the Terps’ win over the Wolverines ended with them cutting down the nets at Xfinity Center as they celebrated a share of the Big Ten regular season title. Less than a week later, sports halted because of the coronavirus pandemic and the NCAA tournament was canceled.
Both teams have vastly changed since that meeting, with each squad losing its top two scorers from last season. But Michigan reloaded with the best freshman class in the conference, highlighted by Dickinson. And the Terrapins couldn’t stop him Thursday night.