The Maryland men’s basketball team had shown considerable promise in its first two outings of the season, but coach Mark Turgeon remained relatively unpleased, saying his players were still “way behind the curve” in many aspects of the game.
Alex Len finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and four blocks Friday against LIU-Brooklyn. (Photo by Bill Bride)
Turgeon’s qualms with his still-learning and ever-growing youthful squad were on full display during the first half Friday, but the Terps were quick to rebound. Despite struggling with turnovers and consistent defense in the first half, Maryland beat LIU-Brooklyn, 91-74, and put on an offensive showcase in the game’s final 20 minutes of action.
The Terps (2-1) left Comcast Center with their second victory of the season, largely due to a balanced offensive performance that was unparalleled so far in Turgeon’s 18 months on the job. Maryland’s 91 points were the most for the program since Feb. 9, 2011, which was three months before Turgeon took over.
“We were much better offensively in the second half than we’ve been all year,” Turgeon said. “We shared the ball in the second half. We turned it over way too much in the first half. Our defense wasn’t good enough, but give them a lot of credit. They made a lot of shots and got confidence … We had a lot of guys step up and play well.”
The miscues were evident in the game’s first frame – Maryland committed 12 turnovers and led by only nine points at halftime – but the Terps had a rejuvenation of sorts in the second half. Maryland came out strong after halftime, slowly extending its lead and displaying an offensive prowess previously unseen.
Seth Allen drained shots from beyond the arc and finished shooting 5-for-6 from 3-point range with 19 points. Pe’Shon Howard found Dez Wells and Jake Layman for multiple alley-oops and fast break buckets en route to 13 assists, the most by any Terps since Greivis Vasquez posted 15 in 2008. And James Padgett provided a strong interior presence next to Alex Len, showing off post-move after post-move while scoring nine points.
All 10 of Maryland’s rotation players finished with at least two points, and three – Allen (19), Len (18) and Wells (15) – scored in double figures. Wells posted numbers in almost every category on the stat sheet, recording 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals.
“Dez Wells played like the kid I thought he could play like coming in,” Turgeon said before later adding, “That’s the kid I thought he was going to be.”
The Terps started to gain momentum at the end of the first half, when Allen drilled a deep 3-pointer, his first of the game, with five seconds remaining. Then, in the second half, the Terps started to pull away before eventually extending their lead for a 17-point margin of victory.
The Terps once again used depth to their advantage, with all but one of their 10 rotation players playing 11 minutes or more. Maryland’s bench scored 36 points, while LIU Brooklyn’s didn’t hit a single basket.
But it was the team’s offensive performance in the second half that told the real story. Playing an inside-out game, the Terps shot 61.8 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from 3-point range during the game’s final 20 minutes.
“They tried to switch it up between going man and zone, and I feel like we reacted pretty well to it,” Allen said. “When they were in zone, we were ready, and when they were in man, we set good screens. We worked it inside-out. We passed it in, and when they collapsed, we would make them pay.”