Iowa Men's Basketball

It's not last year's Maryland, and Iowa must take advantage

Last year's Big Ten co-champ is 1-4 in league, but did win at Wisconsin

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp (10) works his way under the hoop under pressure from Maryland guards Eric Ayala and Darryl Mors
Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp (10) works his way under the hoop under pressure from Maryland guards Eric Ayala and Darryl Morsell (11) during the Hawkeyes’ 67-49 win over the Terrapins last Jan. 10 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

So far, Iowa men’s basketball this season is roughly equivalent to Maryland’s last season. That’s a good thing.

The Terrapins were ranked No. 7 in the preseason in 2019-20, got as high as No. 3, and were in the Top 10 in the season’s first seven polls. Iowa (9-2, 3-1 Big Ten) was No. 5 in the preseason this year, has been as high as No. 3, and has been in the Top 10 in the season’s first seven polls.

A good omen for No. 5 Iowa: Maryland went on to share the Big Ten title with Michigan State and Wisconsin. To do something similar, the Hawkeyes will have to win games like tonight’s. Which is at Maryland.

Iowa’s 77-75 win at Rutgers last Saturday was one that got understandable attention, a road triumph over a ranked team and presumed fellow Big Ten contender. This game (6 p.m., ESPN2) doesn’t have the same cachet. The Terps have shown little resemblance, results-wise, to what they were in the last two seasons when they went a cumulative 27-13 in league play.

But a defeat — always a distinct possibility against almost everyone in this conference — would be giving back the ground the Hawkeyes gained in New Jersey five days earlier.

Iowa center Luka Garza went to high school in Washington, D.C., just a little more than 10 miles from Maryland’s Xfinity Center.

“I haven’t been able to win at Maryland,” Garza said. “That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s as important as any game on our schedule.”

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Maryland is 6-5 overall, 1-4 in the Big Ten. Last year it had a first-round NBA post player in Jalen Smith and a first-team All-Big Ten senior point guard in Anthony Cowan, who had 31 points and six assists when the Terps beat Iowa 82-72 at College Park last year. Neither has really been replaced.

The Terps got off to a nice start in their game at Indiana Monday and led for most of the first 30 minutes, but had six minutes without a point down the stretch. They shot just 38.5 percent and were out-rebounded by 10 in their 63-55 loss.

“We tried a lot defensively,” Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said afterward. “We have to, especially when we’re this small. And then our offense let us down tonight.

“It’s an everyday fight with me with this team and we’ve just got to continue to fight.”

All of Maryland’s starters are between 6-foot-5 and 6-8. They are 12th in rebounding margin in conference games.

“They’ve got a lot of different weapons,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “They have a lot of the versatility, guys that play multiple positions in the 6-7, 6-6, 6-8 range, They’ve got a lot of different guys that can score. Tough team.”

And, Maryland did win 70-64 at then-No. 8 Wisconsin on Dec. 28.

The Terps expect to have senior starting guard Darryl Morsell back tonight. He missed Maryland’s last game because of a fractured bone in his face that he suffered the game before, taking an inadvertent elbow from Michigan’s Franz Wagner. Turgeon has called Morsell his best defensive player.

Hawkeyes starting guard Connor McCaffery, who twisted an ankle early in the Rutgers game, will apparently be back. So will backup point guard Joe Toussaint, who got poked in the eye in the second half of that game and didn’t play afterward.

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The Hawkeyes will play their two following games at home, Sunday at 1:30 p.m. against No. 16 Minnesota and Thursday at 8 p.m. against No. 23 Michigan State.

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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