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3 things that stood out in Wisconsin men's basketball's loss at Maryland

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Both ends of an unusual road trip were a bust for the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team.

Maryland put its stamp on things Wednesday night with a big push early in the second half that the Badgers couldn't match in a 73-55 Terrapins victory at Xfinity Center.

UW has lost five of its last six games, the last two of which came on a three-day trip that started Monday at Northwestern. A quick turnaround produced an ugly result defensively.

Maryland went to Julian Reese inside on three straight possessions and came away with three big conversions as part of a 17-8 start to the second half.

The first two were dunks after Reese escaped coverage near the rim. He drew contact from Carter Gilmore on the third and scored but missed the free throw.

"The start of the second half is really where I didn't think we were near as physical and defensive-minded there early," Badgers coach Greg Gard said. "We let things happen way too easy."

The Terrapins (13-7, 4-5 Big Ten) made their first eight shots from the field in the second half and cruised after that stretch to split the season series with the Badgers (12-7, 4-5), just as the teams did in the first three times they had two games in a regular season.

Maryland shot 60% in the second half and 56% for the game, the best from a Badgers opponent since a loss to Michigan on Feb. 11, 2018.

"I don't think we were locked in, really," Badgers forward Steven Crowl said. "And that's on all of us, whether it's me in the ball screen or guards getting over the ball screen, offensive rebounds. There was a whole combination of things."

UW played a second straight game without starting guard Max Klesmit, a key defender who suffered a head injury against Penn State on Jan. 17. They're 0-5 this season without one of their regular starters, including three losses without forward Tyler Wahl.

Jahmir Young scored 22 points and Donta Scott had 14 points and 11 rebounds — four offensive — for the Terrapins. They had four starters in double figures and outscored UW 38-22 in the paint.

Things broke down for UW in not stopping dribble penetration, Gard said.

"Just not drawing a line there in the paint," he said. "I thought they were more aggressive than us, even early in the first half, at the rim."

Connor Essegian set a career high with 19 points, including four 3-pointers, but UW fell under .500 in Big Ten play for the first time since the end of the 2017-18 season.

Here are three things that stood out.

Defenses check out

Both teams started with 14 points in their first eight possessions before the scoring slowed — at least for the Badgers. Maryland made seven straight shots in the first half, then later scored on five of six possessions as part of a 12-0 run that opened up a 32-23 lead.

"We weren't getting stops even though we were scoring," Crowl said. "Eventually, that's going to catch up with us and it did."

Wahl got a shot to go in off the glass and Crowl hit a 3-pointer to cut UW's deficit to four points at the half.

Maryland shot 52% in the opening 20 minutes despite going 7:28 without a field goal and missing six straight. It generated 18 of its 32 points in the paint.

"We've got to get back to our ways," Essegian said of UW's defense. "When we win big games or we're in big games, that's what gets us there."

Essegian heats up

Essegian tied his career high of 17 points with a 3-pointer nine minutes into the second half. He didn't attempt another shot for 7:13 and set his career best with a pair of free throws.

"His ability to move without the ball makes us a different team when he's in gear," Gard said. "And we've got to continue to help guys understand that that's a good weapon to have. Other guys can do that as well."

It was the freshman's fifth straight game in double figures and 13th this season. But he didn't get enough help from the other starting guards.

Chucky Hepburn was only 1 of 3 for three points in 25 minutes. He checked out for good with 6:54 remaining. Jordan Davis was 1 of 5 for three points in 30 minutes.

Little off the bench

Gilmore and guards Isaac Lindsey and Kamari McGee combined to play more than 43 minutes but didn't play big roles in UW's offense. McGee missed three shots in the first half and one in the second while spelling Hepburn.

The Badgers' only points off the bench came from Gilmore with six, all in the second half.

UW asked for more from its starters than in any other game on Monday at Northwestern and the schedule might have caught up with it two nights later.

"I thought that showed a little bit in the second half," Gard said. "I thought in the first half guys gave us some decent minutes. We needed to finish better in the paint."

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