COLLEGE PARK, Maryland — Not only did Illinois feel the absence of their All-America center, it felt the full impact of Maryland having its own talented big man inside as the Terrapins pulled off the biggest win of their rollercoaster season.
Reserve big man Donta Scott scored 15 of his career-high 25 points in the second half as the Terrapins dominated the final 10 minutes in their 81-65 victory over the No. 17 Fighting Illini at the XFINITY Center on Friday night. Starting center Qudus Wahab chipped in with 11 points as he and Scott combined to shoot 14-of-19 from the field on the Terrapins’ way to outscoring the Fighting Illini 40-16 in the paint.
While Scott also had a productive game when the teams met in Champaign on January 6, pouring in 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds, the Fighting Illini’s Kofi Cockburn was busy producing a seventh consecutive double-double — 23 points and 18 rebounds — in Illinois 76-64 win. Cockburn was missing from tonight’s contest after suffering a concussion in Monday’s double-overtime loss against Purdue and being placed in concussion protocol, and the Terrapins pounded the paint to stage a second-half comeback, finishing the game with a 30-10 run.
In those decisive 12 minutes, Scott was nigh unstoppable, including scoring nine consecutive points for Maryland coming out of the under-8 timeout. All of his four field goals came in the paint, including a three-point play that gave the Terrapins a 64-58 lead after the made free throw with 6:01 remaining.
“We emphasize that every game. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We want paint touches,” said Terrapins interim head coach Danny Manning, who took over the team after the sudden resignation of Mark Turgeon early last month. “We want to be the first team to the bonus.”
After shooting 52 percent in the first half from the field (15-of-29), the Terrapins improved on that number in the second, making 13 of their 24 shots from the field (54 percent) while making 16 of 20 free throws in the second stanza to salt the game away.
Illinois lost its second consecutive game after winning six straight, including winning its first three Big Ten Conference games. Alfonso Plummer led the Fighting Illini with 18 points while Jacob Grandison chipped in with 14 points.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s game, with all the photos produced by DC-area photographer Clifford Ray Williams. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are nine pictures in total.