The Spartans will now have to sit and wait to find out their NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday.
Michigan State was up 23-11 after about 10 minutes of play and it was looking like the Spartans were going to keep their late season momentum going. But then the fouls started to pile up, Maryland clamped down defensively, and the MSU offense dried up.
The Terrapins went on a big run to end the half and went into the locker room up four. Then they came out of the half the same way they went into it, and Michigan State had zero answers. What was once a 12-point Spartan lead was now a 10-point deficit as MSU went over 12 minutes of game time between field goals.
For the game, Michigan State finished shooting 41.5 percent from the floor and just 25 percent from three-point range. The Spartans were just 50 percent at the free through line as well. In addition to the poor shooting, they also turned the ball over 18 times.
The officiating drew the ire of both MSU fans and coach Tom Izzo in the first half. The free throw discrepancy was tilted heavily in Maryland’s favor, and helped spur the Terps’ comeback late in the first half. Izzo was T’d up with when the Spartans were still ahead, but the technical foul did little to change the whistles as the half went on.
While the officiating certainly impacted the game in the first half, it is hard to beat anyone when you go more than half the game without a basket from the floor. Michigan State had no one to blame but themselves for the way they came out in the second half. The Spartans were 2-for-17 in the first 12 minutes of the half when the game was still within reach.
Much like the first meeting, once Maryland took control of the game, the Terps were easily able to maintain it and keep the Spartans at arms length on the scoreboard.
Malik Hall had a pretty good showing for MSU, finishing with a season-high 19 points and also added five rebounds. Aaron Henry was the only other Spartan in double figures with 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting.
For Maryland, Eric Ayala led the way with a game high 21 points on just 5-of-15 shooting, but he was 10-for-11 at the charity stripe. Aaron Wiggins added 19 points for the Terps.
Now it is a waiting game for Michigan State. The bulk of the bracket projectors had the Spartans in the field regardless of what happened in the conference tournament, but a win today would have erased any doubt. It also would have allowed for additional opportunities to pad the resume.
As it stands, if Michigan State is going to extend its tournament streak to 23 years, it will be on the back of the three top-five wins late in the year, with two double-digit losses to Maryland mixed in. This will make for a nervous few days for Spartan fans until the bracket is unveiled on Sunday afternoon. All we can do now is wait, and hope.