LIVE! Maryland

LIVE! Maryland

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois erased every bit of its 22-point deficit Sunday against Maryland, forcing overtime, but the Illini rally fell a point short in a 92-91 Terrapins victory with Anthony Cowan Jr. making 1 of 2 free throws with 0.6 seconds to play.

The loss was a third for Illinois this week after a 6-0 start to the season. Leron Black led the Illini with 18 points, Mark Alstork put up 17, Aaron Jordan had 15 and Trent Frazier and Kipper Nichols finished with 11 points apiece.

Be sure to check out Monday's News-Gazette and IlliniHQ.com for more from the game.

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Maryland 61, Illinois 48 — 11:26 left in 2nd half

An Aaron Jordan three-pointer. Michael Finke going baseline for a dunk. Maryland only shooting 50 percent from the field in the second half. Things have gone more Illinois' way since the halftime break. Not enough to not trail by double figures, but the Illini have chipped into their deficit. The only question that remains? Can they keep doing it?

It's not impossible with this much time left in the game, but Illinois dug itself an extremely big hole in the first half. You know, a big hill to climb. (Insert your favorite cliche here).

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Maryland 45, Illinois 26 — Halftime

Sometimes statistics can be misleading. Sometimes they don't tell the whole story. Tonight? They tell the exact story of the game. A quick rundown ...

— Maryland is shooting 73 percent from the field overall, including 11 of 14 on layups and dunks.

— Anthony Cowan can't be stopped. The Terps point guard is 6 of 8 from the field, hitting from three-point range and driving at will. He has 16 points.

— Illinois is 2 of 14 from three-point range as a team.

So how's Illini Twitter feeling?

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Maryland 14, Illinois 9 — 11:54 left in 1st half

That 4-minute stretch was better for the Illini. That it came immediately after Brad Underwood benched all of his starters is, well, telling. They did not look ready to play. Have to say that the reserves did. Greg Eboigbodin scrapped for his first career made shot to get Illinois on the board. Da'Monte Williams added a solid pull-up jumper and an even better up-and-under that tied up Maryland big man Bruno Fernando. 

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Maryland 10, Illinois 0 — 15:57 left in 1st half

I usually wait for the second media timeout for the first in-game update. You know, let things develop a little bit. But I'll make exceptions. Like when Brad Underwood sends a complete line change in while just RIPPING into his starters. Lots of layups for Maryland to build its 10-0 lead and zero offense for Illinois means Trent Frazier, Da'Monte Williams, Aaron Jordan, Kipper Nichols and Greg Eboigbodin are going to get a shot together.

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Illinois vs. Maryland — 7 p.m., BTN

A few quick notes before we get going here at State Farm Center ...

— Illinois is going with its regular starters, so no change from the Te'Jon Lucas, Mark Smith, Mark Alstork, Leron Black and Michael Finke grouping.

— Maryland is countering with a bigger lineup than normal. That's the Terrapins' advantage, and they're doubling down by starting Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson, Ivan Bender and Michal Cekovsky,

— On the uniform front, the Illini are in their wildly popular home throwbacks. The Terps are going with a very bright red look with their ubiquitous state flag trim.

— The officials for tonight's game are Terry Oglesby, Tom Eades and Kelly Pfeifer. Here's hoping they swallow their whistles and let these teams play.

— Illini great Bruce Douglas, the program's all-time assists leader, is in the house.

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Illinois vs. Maryland — 7 p.m., BTN

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Illinois vs. Maryland — 7 p.m., BTN

Illinois social media was abuzz after Friday night's game against Northwestern. Mainly, Illini fans wanted to know why Brad Underwood didn't call a timeout after Illinois forced a fourth straight Northwestern turnover and before what turned out to be a poor decision of a drive by Te'Jon Lucas that meant the game went to overtime.

Underwood had an answer.

"Why would I ever call a timeout in a broken court? I pray for other coaches to do that," Underwood said. " We talk about those situations a lot. We’ve got a transition set that we run into, and it’s about making a play. I don’t ever want to see a set defense in under 10 seconds late game. I won’t call that timeout unless we’re just completely out of sorts.

"I’m not a big timeout guy unless it’s absolutely necessary. We practice those situations. We talk about those situations. I haven’t lost one second of sleep. We had Mark Alstork wide open in the corner."

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Illinois vs. Maryland — 7 p.m., BTN

Here's a look at the Terrapins from Brad Underwood's viewpoint ...

"They’ve got a lot of experience, and then they’ve got a tremendous amount of size," the Illinois coach said. "That will be a challenge. They’re deep. I’m sure they’re feeling a little bit like we are right now — they’re angry, they’re ticked off. There’s was magnified a little bit because they lost a home game.

"There’s two things that jump out about Maryland. I think they’ve got 100 more free throw attempts in nine games than their opponents. The other thing is they’re plus-11 on the glass. They throw a plethora of size at you. Although they’re only getting nine offensive rebounds a game, they’re an effective nine."

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Illinois vs. Maryland — 7 p.m., BTN

Brad Underwood had a lot of the same feelings after Friday night's loss to Northwestern that he did after Illinois lost at Wake Forest on Tuesday.

"Kind of the same thing after Wake, I think there’s a lot of teaching points to (Friday’s) game," the Illini coach said. "I was really, really pleased with our effort. I thought we played really hard. I thought we controlled the game kind of throughout yet still a little uncomfortable with our half court execution against man.

"I thought there was some unbelievable defensive sequences. I thought we did a great job of hounding (Northwestern guard Bryant) McIntosh. I think it was one of his top turnover games of his career. We’ve got to be better on the offensive end. You’re not going to win on the road with 19 turnovers, yet we found a way to stay in the game in a night we were 3 of 18 from (three-point range) and had 19 turnovers."

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This week was an important one for Illinois. After six straight wins in six straight home games, the Illini were going to be tested more. On the road twice. Two Big Ten games split between a trip north to  Northwestern and today's home game with Maryland. 

So what have we learned about the Illini? Well, through two-thirds of this pivotal early week of the season, Illinois has gone from unbeaten to 6-2. No wins this week, with one more opportunity against the Terrapins.

Turnovers remain an issue — particularly the self-inflicted variety. Fouls, too, although the second half and overtime Friday against Northwestern was better than the three previous halves this week. And offensive execution in the halfcourt still leaves something to be desired.

So the Illini are a work in progress. I don't think they should be a surprise. Not with multiple freshmen playing or even the returning players all in new roles. That means there's room for improvement. What steps might Illinois make today against the Terps?

We'll find out starting in an hour. That's when Illinois and Maryland tip off on this Sunday evening. Until we get there, be sure to keep checking IlliniHQ.com for more courtside updates from your friendly neighborhood beat writer.

Oh, and catch up on what you might have missed from our Illini basketball coverage the past couple days:

Loren Tate's Sunday column on the trying time for basketball and football

Lineups, storylines and the beat writer's pick for Illini-Terps

Catching up with Ayo Dosunmu

How the Illini graded out vs. Northwestern

Friday's postagme video with Illinois coach Brad Underwood

And more with guards Te'Jon Lucas and Mark Alstork

Mistakes, missed opportunities sink Illini against Wildcats

Illinois remains a work in progress

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