For the second straight year, Maryland entered the Barclays Center with a chance to secure a huge season-opening victory on national television against a big-time ranked program. For the second straight year, that all-important victory fell just out of the Terrapins' grasp, as Maryland fell 78-77 to Connecticut in their opener.
Maryland showed promise in stretches, and they're going to be a fun team to watch. They shoot from three well (especially Layman and Smotrycz), and play extremely well in transition. With those two skills, it's hard to count them out in any game, as we saw Friday night.
And so the Terps found themselves down three points with the ball and less than a minute to play, after trailing by as many as 15 points earlier in the game and seeming simply out of sorts. Dez Wells made a turnaround jumper, making it a one-point game.
Ryan Boatright missed the front end of the one-on-one, giving Maryland the ball with around 20 seconds left and down a point. Wells then put his head down, ignored any semblance of common sense, and drove to the hoop triple-teamed, neglecting a wide open Nick Faust and sending the layup off the backboard. UConn missed the front end of the one-on-one again, giving Maryland one last shot with 6 seconds to play. Wells took it again with multiple Husky defenders on him, and Maryland lost the game.
Wells struggled in his first game as Maryland's point guard, turning the ball over six times off both the dribble and the pass while simultaneously showing an inability to either create his own shot or create shots for others in the half-court game.
Roddy Peters came into the game early in the second half, and that freed Wells up some, allowing him to score in transition.
The problem of Wells at point guard extended to other areas, as Nick Faust put up a barrage of shots (some good opportunities, some not so much) in the first half, with mixed results. After starting 0-6 in the second half, Faust came on fire in the last two minutes, bringing the Terps within two on lay-in and a huge three-point bucket.
Faust was Maryland's leading scorer with 17, but he was by no means an effective one. He finished the day five of 18 from the floor, averaging less than a point per shot. No other Terrapin had less points than field goals attempted on the game.
Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz stretched the floor well, hitting a combined five of eight three pointers and previewing what should be a dangerous pair of scorers this season.
After struggling early in the first half, Charles Mitchell played the bulk of the second half big man minutes, and it will be interesting to see whether he or Shaq Cleare start for the Terps' next game.
Update:After the game, Mark Turgeon made it clear no changes would be made at the point guard position.
Turgeon: "Dez will be our point. Roddy will be backup. I don’t know if we’ll play a team with guards like this again. Maybe Ohio State"— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) November 9, 2013