Hot terps dominate paint, Top No. 17 Illinois, 81-65

COLLEGE PARK, MD – Maryland men’s basketball team played one of his best games of the season as he knocked out No. 17 Illinois Fighting Illini, 81-65, Friday night inside the XFINITY Center. The Terps (10-9, 2-6) played inspired basketball led by Donta Scott, who came off the bench to score a career-high 25 points as he went 9 of 12 from the field. Fatts Russell scored 15 points and grabbed a team record seven rebounds.

Big man Qudus Wahab had its best game in a while with 11 points and four rebounds and helped Maryland control the post, along with Scott. The Terps outscored the Illini, 40-16, in the paint as Illinois (13-5, 6-2) was without All-Big Ten center Kofi Cockburn, who missed the game while in concussion protocols.

Maryland had its best shooting game of the season, going 52.8 percent from the field, or 28 of 53. The Terps hadn’t shot better than 50 percent in a game all season.

The Terps took the lead for good with a 7-0 push late in the second half. A three-point play from Scott with 6:01 remaining gave the Terps a 66-60 advantage and they led the rest of the way. Maryland scored the game’s final 11 points.

The Terrapins are now 4-0 at home against Illinois as Big Ten Conference opponents (since 2014-15). Maryland have won eight of their last 10 meetings overall against the Illini.

It was Maryland’s second win against a ranked team this season, as the Terps beat No. 20 Florida in Brooklyn in December.

From the trainer

“I thought Donta was great. He scored the basketball and went for him. In all areas, we got contributions from everyone in one way or another. It was a great victory team.”

Break down the action

  • The Terps had their first four shots of the game, but Illinois followed suit as the two teams were tied at eight in the Under-16 timeout. Maryland’s strong offensive half continued as they took a 31-29 lead in the under-four timeout thanks to Scott’s 10 points. The Terps would eventually take a 37-35 halftime lead after shooting 52% from the field and 40% from three points.
  • The two teams continued to trade blows in the second half as Russell’s quick layup tied the game at 51 with 13:02 to go. by Julian Reese three points and an assist to Ayala gave the Terps a 59-58 lead with 7:28 left in the game. It became part of a streak where Maryland made five straight shots and took a 64-58 lead with 6:01 remaining. The scrappy Terps tied into the defense and made Illinois work for every shot, as the crowd at XFINITY Center matched the energy on the field. The Terps took the lead for good with a 7-0 push late in the second half. Maryland defeated Illinois 24-7 to end the game, totaling the final 11 points of the contest.

Eyes on Ayala

  • In his 100th career start, Ayala moved up to 29th on Maryland’s all-time scoring list with nine points in the game. He now has 1,297 as he passed Maryland legend Joe Smith who scored 1,290 from 1993 to 1995.
  • Next on the list is Jay McMillen who scored 1300 points from 1964 to 1967.

Double digit update

  • Scott (25 points) scored in double figures for the 13th time this season and the 36th time in his career.
  • Russell (15 points) hit double digits for the 14th time this season and the 90th time in his career.
  • Wahab (11 points) scored in double figures for the seventh time as a Terp and the 30th time in his career. It is also the first time in six games that he has achieved this feat.
  • Hart (10 points) scored in double figures for the 10th time this season and the 18th time in his career. He has also scored 10 or more goals in nine consecutive games.

New starter

  • Simon Wright made his first career start as a Terp on Friday night.
  • Wright started 35 games at Elon, where he played the first four seasons of his college career (2017-21).

Series history

  • The Terrapins are now 4-0 at home against Illinois as Big Ten Conference opponents (since 2014-15).
  • Maryland have won eight of their last 10 meetings overall against the Illini.

Following

  • The Terps will face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, New Jersey on Tuesday, January 25 at 7 p.m.
  • The game will air on Big Ten Network and the Maryland Sports Radio Network.

– Terps –

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