Indiana put its three-game losing streak in the rear-view mirror at home last time out and hopes to keep it going with four of the next six on the road, starting at Maryland on Tuesday night. The Hoosiers suffered consecutive losses to Nebraska, Louisville and Wisconsin – all played in the state of Indiana – before jumping to a big lead early and rolling to a 96-80 win over Illinois on Saturday.
“Every team we’re gonna play from now on in the Big Ten is gonna be great,” Hoosiers’ leading scorer James Blackmon Jr. told reporters. “We’ve just got to know that one game is never gonna define us. Just a short memory, and build on it.” Indiana will have to be just as focused against Maryland, which won at Michigan 77-70 on Saturday in its first Big Ten road test. That was a huge confidence boost for the Terrapins, who gave up the game’s last 14 points in a demoralizing 67-65 loss to Nebraska at home on Jan. 1. Maryland leading scorer Melo Trimble told the Washington Post after the Michigan win, “We played with a lot of passion.”
ABOUT INDIANA (11-5, 1-2 Big Ten): The Hoosiers shot almost 60 percent from the field and drained 13 from 3-point range in the victory against Illinois as Blackmon scored 25 points after averaging just 10.7 over the previous three. Blackmon is averaging 17.3 points and fellow junior guard Robert Johnson adds 13.9 while both are shooting better than 40 percent from behind the arc. Sophomore center Thomas Bryant (12.2 points, team-high 7.2 rebounds) scored 20 against Illinois and sophomore forward OG Anunoby (11.9 points) is shooting 60.2 percent from the field.
ABOUT MARYLAND (14-2, 2-1): The Terrapins got season-high scoring efforts from senior center Damonte Dodd (15) and junior guard Jared Nickens (12, 4-for-4 from 3-point range) in the win over Michigan. “I always stay confident and knew it would happen,” Nickens told the Washington Post. “. … I kept a solid routine these past six weeks, and I’m going to keep the same routine moving forward.” Trimble, a junior guard, leads the way at 17.5 points per game while freshmen Justin Jackson (10.8, team-high 5.9 rebounds) and Anthony Cowan (10.4, team-best 3.8 assists) also contribute.
1. Maryland’s 7-1 F-C Michal Cekovsky (10 points per game) has missed three games with an ankle injury, but could return this week.
2. Blackmon needs 16 points to become the 50th Indiana player to reach 1,000 in his career.
3. The Hoosiers won 80-62 in the only meeting last season, which evened the series at 2-2 since Maryland joined the Big Ten.
PREDICTION: Indiana 78, Maryland 70