Howard Gets Start in Maryland's Dominant Win Over NJIT, 89-50

After a game that one-sided, there's only so much you can say, as well as only so much that can be learned. Maryland defeated NJIT 89-50 in the Comcast Center, with the 39-point margin of victory the Terrapins' second-largest all season. On the way, they dominated every statistical category: they forced 22 turnovers, shot 60% from three, limited the Highlanders to 32% shooting from the field, and generally controlled play entirely from tip-to-tip. NJIT is awful, granted, and the stats should be enough to tell you that. But hey, you take any type of blowout when you can get it.

The big story of the day isn't the utter dominance, which should come as no surprise, but instead the five players that started for Maryland, which for the first time all season saw a change: freshman guard Pe'Shon Howard started for senior swingman Cliff Tucker. (Some thought Terrell Stoglin may be the starter instead. Gary ostensibly based it on practice, not games. "[Howard] practiced the best over the past three or four practices we had," he said at the halftime interview).

Howard hasn't been as impressive as Stoglin, but he's taller and much stronger, which makes him less of a defensive liability than Stoglin. (Of course, he's not as good offensively, which is the entire reason Maryland need to make a change, but whatever). That wasn't the answer offensively right off the bat, but things picked up quickly and Maryland had a 35-point lead at the half before long. Howard's statline wasn't amazing, but it was more than serviceable.

More important was Cliff Tucker's response, and it was great: he had 11 points, including 2-3 shooting from deep, plus 6 assists and 4 steals. Tucker's made a bit of a living of showing up against bad teams and not doing the same for any good team not named Pittsburgh, but this was certainly a step in the right direction.

Some may consider this as a statement that he should be starting; Gary will probably hold onto the lineup as it stands now, because, well, its NJIT and they're terrible. You can only take so much out of this game. Besides that, this is a logical lineup. Howard can take the reigns at point guard and allow Adrian Bowie to play off the ball, while Maryland still gets some firepower off the bench with Tucker and Stoglin as sparkplugs. Bowie responded well with 10 points, and though its only NJIT and doesn't fix the slow starts, I'm okay with sticking it out until they play another game.

Elsewhere, I don't know how much we can take out of it. One big positive was Maryland's shooting, both from beyond the arc and from the free throw line. The Terps had traditionally struggled in both areas this year, but looked great in them today. From the line, they shot 77%, including a pair of shocking 4-6 performances from James Padgett and Jordan Williams. Things weren't much different from three, where Maryland was 9-15, led by Cliff Tucker's 2-3 and Adrian Bowie's 3-6. The FT shooting is a definite bonus, but they were given plenty of open looks thanks to some lack defense beyond the arc.

Meantime, the defense was very solid, but again, NJIT played into a lot. It's not hard to total 21 forced turnovers and 10 blocks when the other team is short and doesn't value the ball. Just sayin'. Again, did Maryland learn much here? Probably not.

I could probably talk about more individual performances, but really, does it mean anything? Jordan Williams extended his double-double streak, unsurprisingly. Dino Gregory looked awesome. Even James Padgett showed up in the frontcourt. As mentioned earlier, Bowie, Tucker, and Howard were all pretty good.

Past that, well, Berend Weijs is growing out his beard. And that's about it.

Out of everything that happened in this game, the most important thing was the lineup change. Past that, it was little more informative or meaningful than any other cupcake blowout Maryland's had over the years. Its unfortunate, I guess, but that's just the way it is.

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