Entering his sophomore season, some wondered whether Maryland forward Julian Reese could hold his own among the bigs of the Big Ten.
Most wouldn’t consider a 6 feet-9, 230-pound frame to be lacking in size, but one of this conference’s signatures is the stature and size of those who make their home underneath the basket. Reese enters most of those matchups as the “undersized” player, including Wednesday night against Wisconsin 7-footer Steven Crowl.
Terrapins coach Kevin Willard has never worried about those matchups, singing Reese’s praises since early in the season. Instead, maybe it’s the rest of Maryland’s Big Ten schedule that should be the ones worrying.
After scoring 19 as the Terps nearly knocked off No. 1 Purdue om Sunday, Reese responded with another strong effort inside Wednesday night, scoring 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting while teammate Jahmir Young led all scorers with 22 as Maryland beat Wisconsin 73-55.
Young also pulled down eight rebounds to go with his fourth 20-point performance in Maryland’s last five games. The Terrapins (13-7, 4-5 Big Ten) improved to 10-1 at home, and remained undefeated at Xfinity Center in conference play. It’s their first win over the Badgers (12-7, 4-5) in their last four tries.
A shooting gallery broke out to start the game: The Terrapins opened 6-of-9 from the floor, with Wisconsin keeping pace at 6-of-7 as the teams raced to a 14-14 tie.
The hot hands cooled off after the initial six-minute salvo, right about the time Willard began his bench rotations. Wisconsin coach Greg Gard did the same, resulting in four-minute-plus scoring droughts for each side.
A Chucky Hepburn three resumed the Badgers’ scoring with a 20-18 lead at 7:59 of the first half. Maryland’s stretch without a bucket from the floor, though, went more than seven minutes.
The Terrapins would get clicking again thanks to Reese, who, after holding his own against Purdue’s dominant big man Zach Edey on Sunday, responded with another strong performance in the paint against Crowl. He bookended the scoring of a 12-0 Maryland run to lead the Terrapins into halftime up 32-28.
The break didn’t cool Reese off, as he poured in three-straight baskets early in the second half. It was part of another hot opening streak, with the Terrapins shooting 8-for-8 and stretching their lead to 13, 49-36.
Reese would sit most of the second half after picking up his third and fourth fouls, which is when Young and his teammates locked down and helped finish the victory.