Wielding a 5-1 record entering the contest, Indiana men’s basketball hosted Maryland (4-3) in its Big Ten opener Friday night. Despite the absence of senior guard Xavier Johnson, who sat out with a lingering ankle injury, the Hoosiers were able to defeat the Terrapins 65-53 to start conference play 1-0.
The Hoosiers got off to their most explosive start of the season in front of a packed Assembly Hall crowd of 17,222. Indiana stormed out to an 8-2 lead three-and-a-half minutes into the contest — prompting a Maryland timeout. Indiana didn’t stop, expanding its lead to 16-4 due to 3-pointers from sophomores center Kel’el Ware and forward Malik Reneau.
Maryland cut its deficit to 18-11 at the 10:51 mark, but then the teams traded points for the next four-and-a-half minutes with neither team able to score consecutive baskets. Finally, Ware put up a layup and got fouled to give Indiana a 29-18 lead.
The Terrapins endured a two-minute and 53-second scoring drought which allowed the Hoosiers to build their lead to 13 points, their highest of the half at the time. Maryland cut it back to 7 points — which became the elusive magic number for the Terrapins. Indiana eclipsed a 7-point lead with just under 15 minutes to go in the first half and led by that number or more the rest of the frame.
An 8-0 Indiana run stretched the Hoosier lead to a half-high 15 points with a shade over two minutes remaining, but Maryland gave a final effort to enter halftime trailing 40-28. Indiana’s lead marked its first double-digit halftime lead this season.
Maryland — the Big Ten’s worst 3-point shooting team entering the contest at 23.8% — shot 1-for-8 from beyond the arc in the first frame. Indiana — the conference’s second worst in the category at 24.1% — shot 3-for-6.
Ware scored 12 points and freshman forward Mackenzie Mgbako added 11 to pace the Hoosiers in the opening half.
Key frontcourt players from each side encountered foul trouble early in the second half, as Reneau and Maryland junior forward Julian Reese each picked up their third foul. With a potential momentum-swinging opportunity up for grabs, Indiana pounced.
After trading baskets, senior guard Trey Galloway scored three straight layups to spark a 10-0 run. The spurt gave Indiana a 21-point lead — its first 20-plus point lead at any point this season.
Maryland scored on back-to-back possessions, but Reese then committed his fourth foul with 13:56 remaining and took a seat on the bench. Indiana responded with 6 straight points to gain a 58-35 lead.
Up 61-39 with eight minutes remaining, the Hoosiers lulled, and the Terrapins steadily crept back. Maryland produced a 10-0 run during an Indiana three-minute and 37-second scoring drought, creating a much more manageable 61-49 deficit for Maryland with five minutes left.
However, the Hoosiers fended off any late game comeback attempts. Both teams limped to the finish line with minimal scoring in the final four minutes and Indiana closed out a 65-53 victory.
Indiana’s defense was the star of the show, holding Maryland to its second-lowest scoring output of the season on 35.7% shooting. It was also Indiana’s lowest points allowed all season.
Indiana had full control midway through the second frame when it controlled a commanding 23-point lead, but the Hoosiers slipped the rest of the way. They committed 13 second-half turnovers, made zero 3-pointers in the frame and tied the Terrapins 25-25 in the period.
Ware led Indiana with 18 points and 14 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. The Hoosiers totaled four double-digit scorers with Mgbako adding 13 points, Galloway contributing 12 and Reneau putting up 11.
The win pushes Indiana to 6-1 on the season with its first Big Ten road game on deck. The Hoosiers will face Michigan at 9 p.m. Tuesday in Ann Arbor. It will be available to watch on Peacock.