Mark Turgeon wasn’t happy.
Part of a new-look second-half lineup, Charles Mitchell responded with his first career double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds).
After entering halftime with a three-point lead over Georgia Southern – and just 29 points scored – the Maryland basketball coach decided to make a change to start the second half. Instead of trotting out the Terps’ normal starters, Turgeon went with a lineup of Seth Allen, Logan Aronhalt, Nick Faust, Charles Mitchell and Alex Len.
The change worked to perfection.
Maryland defeated Georgia Southern, 70-53, on Saturday night in front of 10,282 fans inside Comcast Center. Turgeon’s second half adjustments resulted in a quick 16-4 run to start the final 20 minutes of action, giving Maryland (4-1) a comfortable lead and putting Georgia Southern (2-3) in a hole it could never recover from.
“I went with that group, and it worked,” Turgeon said. “I just tried to play the best players. We were just so bad in the first half, I tried to reward the guys that gave us a little bit.”
“Coach said we had to bring high energy and be a team,” Mitchell added. “That’s what we all tried to do. I feel like our energy changed the flow of the game in the first four minutes of the second half. We were just giving it all we’ve got.”
Despite the positive adjustments to start the second half, the game didn’t start well for Maryland. The Terps struggled to find a rhythm on offense, committing 10 of their 17 turnovers in the opening frame, and allowing Georgia Southern to take an early eight-point lead.
The Terps’ starters – Faust, Len, Pe’Shon Howard, James Padgett and Dez Wells – shot a combined 2-for-12 in the first half and combined to score just 10 points, while bench players accounted for 66 percent of the team’s scoring in the opening frame.
The abysmal showing lead to an impassioned speech from Turgeon at halftime and eventually the change in starters at the beginning of the second half.
“That wasn’t a lot of fun in the first half,” Turgeon said. “We weren’t read to play physically and mentally. Georgia Southern was ready out of the gate. I was disappointed in our guys in the first half.”
“He said we better pick it up and get some energy and life out there,” Aronhalt added. “We were the more talented team tonight, but we weren’t playing like it. We were playing like things didn’t matter.”
In the end, though, the Terps were able to bounce back with a solid second half showing, a balanced offensive performance and breakout games from Aronhalt and Mitchell.
Five players – Aronhalt (12), Len (10), Faust (11), Mitchell (13) and Shaquille Cleare (10) – finished in double digit scoring for Maryland, the second straight game the Terps have accomplished such a feat. Aronhalt, who shot a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range in 15 minutes of action, and Mitchell, who added 11 rebounds and recorded his first career double-double, were particularly impressive.
“He brings a great presence down low,” Aronhalt said when asked about Mitchell. “It seems like he’s everywhere, on the boards and getting easy layups. He just does all the little things. He’s so physical and so big down there; teams don’t know what to do with him. I’d hate to try and box him out down there. I don’t know what I’d do.”
With the victory, Maryland won its fourth straight game since dropping its season opener to Kentucky, 72-69. And like in three of those four wins, it was a game where Maryland made plenty of mistakes but still managed to come out victorious against a weak nonconference opponent.
“We were sluggish out there the whole first half. We have been doing that the past couple games,” Aronhalt said. “[Turgeon] said it’s time for us to pick it up and I thought we did in the second half.”