With a little more than five minutes remaining in No. 9 Michigan’s 69-62 win over No. 17 Maryland on Sunday in College Park, Wolverines freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis drained a three-pointer to give the visitors a six-point lead. Brazdeikis blew a kiss to the Xfinity Center crowd as he backpedaled downcourt and then drew an offensive foul on Maryland star Bruno Fernando. The Terrapins would not seriously threaten again.
Brazdeikis, who had 13 points in the teams’ first meeting last month, scored a game-high 21 points Sunday. He said he was motivated, at least in part, by the Maryland student section, which was on him all afternoon. His kiss to the crowd was inspired by former Michigan guard Nik Stauskas, who did the same thing after a win at Michigan State several years ago.
“It was a lot of fun,” Brazdeikis said. “Even before the game started, they were on me, so I just embrace that kind of intensity. I love crowds like that. It motivates me, makes me more hungry. I embrace that, every second of it. As much as they think they’re getting in my head, that’s actually fuel for me. I just feed off that all day long.”
When Brazdeikis stepped to the free throw line seven minutes into the first half, some Maryland fans started a familiar chant: “You are ug-ly! You are ug-ly!” Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon walked to the public-address announcer at center court after Brazdeikis made his first attempt. After Brazdeikis made his second attempt to tie the score, the PA announcer relayed a request from Turgeon to stop doing that particular chant.
Brazdeikis and his teammates wouldn’t have minded if the chant persisted.
“I don’t know why they even do that,” Michigan forward Isaiah Livers told the Detroit Free Press. “That’s like putting gas in a car. He loves that kind of energy.”
Sunday wasn’t the first time Maryland fans chanted “You are ugly” at an opponent. Former Purdue center Isaac Haas and former Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff have been on the receiving end of the taunt in recent years.
“That didn’t bother me at all,” Haas said after Purdue’s win at Maryland in 2017. “I’ve heard worse things. They’re just trying to throw me off. I even had Maryland fans come up to me after the game and apologize. It’s just part of the game."
Read more from The Post: