Indiana won what many expected to be a battle of freshman phenoms against Maryland on Thursday. Instead, the Hoosiers put on a clinic on offense and dominated the narrative in the Big Ten matchup.
Freshman James Blackmon Jr., who entered as the Big Ten’s sixth-leading scorer (16.6 points per game), contributed 22 points and Yogi Ferrell hit seven 3-pointers as No. 23 Indiana ripped No. 13 Maryland 89-70. Blackmon, Ferrell and the Hoosiers’ offense overshadowed a sluggish outing from the Terrapins’ own freshman star, Melo Trimble, who scored just 10 points.
Thursday’s matchup was Indiana’s first as a ranked team since the end of the 2012-13 season. With the win, the Hoosiers (15-4, 5-1) moved into a tie with Wisconsin for first place in the Big Ten. And if this offense keeps improving, the rest of the league might be in trouble.
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As the game slipped away from Maryland, the student section at Assembly Hall began hurling chants of “OVERRATED” in the Terps’ general direction. That seems like a knee-jerk diagnosis for a team that has only one real blemish on its resume in a 64-57 loss to Illinois (not to mention a stupid thing for any fan base to say given that it devalues having beaten that team). This is still a very good Maryland team, and if not for a few defensive lapses on the perimeter down the stretch, things might’ve turned out differently in Bloomington.
But Indiana did a remarkable job of making the game look like a mismatch in the second half. When the Hoosiers get hot, there might not be a more dangerous team in the league. The question is how consistent Ferrell and Indiana's offense can remain in the thick of conference play. Plenty of obstacles lie ahead for Indiana, but on Thursday it showed exactly what kind of power it might hold in the Big Ten.