Maryland Terrapins-Georgia Southern Eagles Preview - Cupcake IV: Batter Royale

Jason Szenes

Maryland welcomes Georgia Southern to the Comcast Center in their last game before the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

What: Maryland hosts 2-2 Georgia Southern in their final tune-up game before the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

When and Where: 7:00 in the Comcast Center, College Park, Md.

Where to Watch: ESPN3.

Line: Maryland -17

Notes / Storylines

Close call. After comfortable wins over Morehead State and Long Island, Lafayette gave Maryland a late run thanks to some prolific three-point shooting from Seth Hinrichs (six of eleven) and Joey Ptasinski (four of nine). The Leopards were arguably the weakest of Maryland's first four opponents, and were the ones that gave them the hardest time (excluding Kentucky). Did the Terps get comfortable and play down to their opponent, like we've seen countless times in previous years? We'll have to see how Turgeon's group responds tonight.

Shooting. Maryland continues to improve here, shooting over 50% against Lafayette, but their three-point shooting was dreadful. The Terps made only three of fifteen attempts, including an 0-4 outing from Nick Faust and 1-4 from the usually reliable Seth Allen.

The point guard battle. With Allen averaging 9.3 points per game and leading the team in three-point shooting, there have been calls for him to start over Pe'Shon Howard, who has the lowest shooting percentage of the team and has the lowest points average of any player with regular time on the court (while ranking second in minutes). However, Howard is having a great year leading the offense, averaging 7.8 assists per game against only 2.0 turnovers, both averages significantly better than his totals from last season.

Balance! Against Lafayette, Maryland had five players score in double-digits - Alex Len, James Padgett, Nick Faust, Charles Mitchell and Dez Wells. Four players (Len, Padgett, Wells and Faust) average at least ten points per game, with Allen closing in. You can go ahead and throw our "Big Three" theory out the window - Maryland has a ton of depth and can score in a variety of ways.

Rebounding. Maryland continues to excel on the boards, and carried a 44-28 rebounding advantage against Lafayette. This time, it wasn't all Mitchell, who still grabbed five. Instead, Len and Faust each had eight, and Wells had six of his own.

Last cupcake until December 5. After this game, Maryland faces off against two tougher opponents - at Northwestern in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge (which will surely be awkward) and at the Verizon Center against George Mason in the BB&T Classic. This is the last chance for Mark Turgeon to tinker with the rotation before those two games.

The Opponent (An Overview)

Georgia Southern is 2-2, coming off two straight wins over NAIA Webber International and D-1 Kennesaw State. Their two losses came to Charlotte and Valparaiso. The Eagles went 15-15 last season with an impressive 12-6 record in the Southern Conference - good for a second-place tie. They return three starters from that team, but only one starts currently - guard/forward Eric Ferguson.

Ferguson, a 6'7" junior, averaged 13.7 points and 6.4 rebounds last season, and has slightly increased those numbers this season (13.8 and 8.0, respectively). He hasn't been very efficient, however - he's shooting 39.5% from the floor and is averaging over four turnovers per game.

Joining him up top is fellow big man Marvin Baynham, who is averaging 6.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Off the bench the Eagles have returning starter Carner Baskerville, a 6'7" senior who is averaging four points and three rebounds per game. So far, Baskerville has come off the bench this season, but don't be surprised to see him, Ferguson and Baynham all start to give Georgia Southern some height to compete with Maryland.

True freshman Cleon Roberts has been a pleasant surprise for the Eagles, and the 6'5" sharpshooter is averaging 13.5 points per game and has hit eight of 15 three point attempts. Fellow guards Tre Bussey and C.J. Reed are no slouches from beyond the arc, either - they're shooting 37.5% and 54.5%, respectively.

Expected Starting Fives:
Maryland Georgia Southern
Pe`Shon Howard (Jr., 6-2) Tre Bussey (Jr., 6-2)
Nick Faust (So., 6-6) C.J. Reed (Sr., 6-3)
Dezmine Wells (So., 6-5) Cleon Roberts (Fr., 6-5)
James Padgett (Sr., 6-8) Marvin Baynham (Jr., 6-6)
Alex Len (So., 7-1) Eric Ferguson (Jr., 6-7)

Matchup to Watch:

Len vs. Ferguson. It's a match-up of both teams' most productive players, and one that Len should dominate with a half-foot advantage.

Four Factors:

It's the same four stats each time. I've run out of things to say.

Prediction:

Georgia Southern has one thing in common with the Lafayette team that gave Maryland a late run - prolific three-point shooting. It won't be enough for the Eagles to overcome the Terps at home, and Maryland wins 82-64.

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