Maryland vs. Michigan St.: Score, Highlights, Reaction from 2016 Regular Season

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2016

Michigan State's Bryn Forbes, left, drives against Maryland's Melo Trimble (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Al Goldis/Associated Press

Few things in college basketball end January panic within a fanbase more effectively than a win over a Top 10 opponent—especially when that opponent is a conference foe.

The No. 11 Michigan State Spartans were reeling after three straight losses coming into their Saturday showdown with the No. 7 Maryland Terrapins at the Breslin Center, but the Spartans snapped the skid with a 74-65 victory. Denzel Valentine led the way with 19 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, and Matt Costello played a perfect supporting role with 15 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and a handful of critical plays in the closing moments.

Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports said it looked like the Spartans were back:

As for Maryland, Melo Trimble came to play, garnering 24 points and seven rebounds, but his team shot 29.6 percent from three-point range and lost the rebounding battle, 44-32. The Terrapins offense did not impress Rob Dauster of College Basketball Talk:

Dauster noticed the difference between the two teams on that side of the ball:

Michigan State turned heads before the game started with its uniform choice, as Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated passed along:

Even with those ugly uniforms, the Spartans controlled the first half and took a 35-29 lead into the locker room. Maryland was fortunate to be down by only six points, considering Michigan State held a 26-19 advantage on the boards and grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in the first half alone.

Rebounding wasn't the only issue with the Terrapins big men, as Josh Stirn of 247Sports noticed:

Michigan State kept the lead early in the second half because of hot shooting by Bryn Forbes, who had been in a slump before Saturday. Jeff Borzello of ESPN illustrated the turnaround:

Stirn offered some advice for the Maryland defense:

However, that advantage was short-lived, as Maryland used a quick run to seize a 46-42 lead. In fact, the Terrapins scored on their first eight possessions of the second half, and Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press pointed out another concern for the home team:

Valentine put the Spartans on his back in the middle of the second half and gave his team a 50-49 lead at the under-12-minute timeout. The playmaker, who was almost at a triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, impressed Chris Miller of

ESPN College Basketball shared a noteworthy highlight:

Michigan State continued its spurt to take a seven-point lead, and Stirn acknowledged the difference in the game:

Trimble kept the Terrapins within striking distance, but Valentine and Costello had an answer almost every time. Mike Wilson of 247Sports praised the Spartans big man late in the second half:

Costello's presence was important with Michigan State ahead, 66-61, with less than three minutes remaining because Kenny Goins was struggling, as Eisenberg realized:

Maryland climbed to within three, but Eron Harris drilled two clutch free throws with fewer than than 80 seconds left. The Terrapins hit two free throws of their own, but Costello grabbed the most important offensive rebound of the game with 25 seconds remaining to keep the possession alive and help his team extend its lead to five again after two free throws. 

Jeff Goodman of ESPN weighed in on the development:

From there, Costello grabbed another rebound on the defensive side and hit two free throws to help clinch the 74-65 victory.


What's Next?

Michigan State snapped its three-game losing streak and has a golden opportunity to make up some ground in the Big Ten in the upcoming stretch against unranked Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan before critical contests against Purdue and Indiana.

The Spartans were four games behind the Indiana Hoosiers and Iowa Hawkeyes in the loss column coming into Saturday and need to take advantage of those winnable games.

As for the Terrapins, it doesn't get much easier with a Thursday showdown against No. 9 Iowa before a two-game road trip against Ohio State and Nebraska. While they already destroyed the Buckeyes once this season, they can ill afford many more losses in the league after dropping their second conference game Saturday.

However, a head-to-head victory over the Hawkeyes would put Maryland back in the Big Ten race.


Postgame Reaction

One person who was particularly pleased with the win was Costello, given his celebration, which Sean Merriman of shared:

Izzo reacted to the hug, per Hamilton: “I could use a ride every once in a while. It's not all bad.”

The Spartan head coach was also pleased with his team’s overall effort, per Wilson: “I thought that was the hardest we played in years. We needed that kinda effort.”

Izzo also praised Costello, who dealt with a sprained ankle before the game, per Wilson: “Costello, I think I’m just joining Allen Iverson, who needs practice? He didn’t practice for three days.”

The Michigan State coach even weighed in on the bright green jerseys, per Rexrode: “I know they’re crazy but 17 year olds like them. Right now I like 17 year olds more than 80 year olds.”

Recruits may have seen the jerseys, but the whole country will take notice if the Spartans continue to play the way they did Saturday down the stretch.