After a tournament win in the Virgin Islands, there was some concern that Maryland could come out flat against in-state rival Morgan State. After all, the last time Maryland played the Bears (2009), they lost in a shocker -- their first-ever loss against the school. This time, there was no such upset, as Maryland put together a dominating performance on both ends, running away with a 89-62 victory at the Comcast Center. Jake Layman led the way with a career-high 27 points, and the Terps won their fourth game in a row.
After trailing 5-3 early, Maryland went on a run to take a lead they would never give up. It started with Nick Faust's alley-oop to Layman, followed by two transition Faust buckets, Shaquille Cleare's slam dunk, and Dez Wells's three-pointer -- an 11-0 run leading to a 14-5 lead at the under-16.
On offense, Maryland put together a balanced attack, doing exactly what they want to do this year -- consistent three point shooting from Layman and Evan Smotrycz (with some from Faust and Wells), driving to the hoop from Wells and Roddy Peters, excellence in the transition game from Peters and Faust, and the occasional inside bucket from Cleare and Chuck Mitchell.
Faust had perhaps his best game of the year, with four steals, eight points and -- perhaps most impressively -- five assists. The junior has received some flack for his decision making over his Terrapin career, and repeatedly passed up opportunities he would have previously taken in favor of better chances for his teammates. The Terps did a terrific job moving the ball around in general -- they had 15 assists on 17 field goals in the first half.
Smotrycz added 19 points, with four three pointers and 12 rebounds, while Wells scored 12 and Peters had seven. Layman's 27 came on seven three pointers, another career high.
Before you scoff at Morgan State, they are much better than their 1-7 record would suggest (I know, high praise). They've played some very good teams, and have some serious talent -- led by Ian Chiles, Anthony Hubbard and Blake Bozeman, they should be one of the tougher teams in the MEAC. They're a team Maryland should beat, but the manner in which Maryland did so is certainly impressive.
To pick at some negatives from the game, Maryland shot poorly from the free throw line and turned the ball over quite a bit, particularly in the second half. The Terps were ten of 22 from the charity stripe, and had 18 turnovers on the night.
For Maryland, it's a big win heading into their biggest matchup of the year so far, a December 4 trip to Columbus to face Ohio State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.