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No. 20 Maryland men’s basketball vs. George Mason preview

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The Terps look to advance to 4-0 on the season.

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics
UMTerps

No. 20 Maryland men’s basketball had a successful first week of the 2021-22 season. The Terps started off with a win over Quinnipiac followed by victories over George Washington on Thursday and Vermont on Saturday.

Guards Fatts Russell and Eric Ayala lead the team in scoring averaging 16.3 and 15.3 points per game, respectively. Junior center Qudus Wahab has also made a strong statement through his first three games averaging 13.7 points and a team-high 9.7 boards and six steals.

Now, after two tight games with George Washington and Vermont, the Terps will welcome an undefeated George Mason team to the Xfinity Center as they look to advance to 4-0 on the season.

The game is set to tip at 7 p.m. and will air on Big Ten Network.

George Mason Patriots (3-0)

2020-21 record: (13-9, 8-6 Atlantic 10)

Head coach Kim English is in his first season at the helm of the program. English was a guard at the University of Missouri and was a pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. He has coaching experience as an assistant for the University of Tulsa as well as a number of other schools such as Colorado and Tennesee.

So far under his leadership, the Patriots have excelled. Their three 20 plus point wins mark the first time in program history the team has started with wins of such a large margin. Additionally, against Morgan State, the team hit 15 three-point shots, the most they’ve hit in over 20 years at home.

Players to know

Josh Oduro, junior forward, 6-foot-9, No. 13 — Oduro is coming off a big week after just being named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week. In the Patriots’ first three games against Stony Brook, Penn and Morgan State he averaged 19.3 points, 6.3 boards and 2.0 blocks. During the three-game stretch to open the season, Oduro shot 71.4% on 35 shots from the floor. He led the Patriots in scoring in each of the three games and ranks second on the team in rebounding.

Davonte Gaines, junior guard, 6-foot-7, No. 3 — Gaines is in his first season with George Mason after transferring from Tennessee in the offseason leads the team in rebounding averaging 7.7 per game. His season-high nine rebounds came against Stony Brook in which he also added nine points and two assists. Gaines had a strong performance against Morgan State in which he put up 15 points shooting 4-for-8 from the field, including 2-for-4 from deep and a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe. In that matchup, he also grabbed eight rebounds, had two assists, two blocks, three steals and just one turnover.

D’Shawn Schwartz, graduate guard/forward, 6-foot-7, No. 15 — Schwartz is second on the team in points and third in rebounds behind Gaines and Oduro. He averages 15.3 points per game and 5.7 boards per game. The Colorado native transferred from the University of Colorado after averaging 9.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game during the 2020-21 season. Last season, Schwartz also shot 40% from deep ranking eighth in the Pac-12.

Strength

Scoring. Coming into this matchup, the Patriots are averaging 83.7 points per game with a 26.7 scoring margin. Maryland, on the other hand, is averaging 74.0 points per game with a 10.7 scoring margin. The Patriots have shot 53.4% from the field on 174 shots in their first three games and 40.5% from deep on 84 shots.

Weakness

Turnovers. George Mason has 44 turnovers through three games which come out to an average of 14.7 per game. Although Maryland has turned over the ball once more than its opponents this season, it has scored 11.7 points off the takeaways. If given the opportunity, the Terps may be able to use the Patriots’ average of 14.7 turnovers per game to their advantage.

Three things to watch

1. Will Maryland’s three-point shooting improve? The Terps’ performance through the first three games of the season from behind the arc has been one of their weaknesses. Maryland is averaging 5.0 successful shots from deep per game and has made just 15-for-64 from long range.

2. Can the Terps jump out to an early lead? Maryland has been unable to pull away early in these first few nonconference games. Against George Washington, Maryland trailed by one point and then outscored it in the second half 42-34 to secure the win, 71-64. In their matchup against Vermont, the Terps trailed 36-32 at halftime. In the second frame, Maryland outscored the Catamounts 36-21 to ultimately secure the victory. The Terps will have the opportunity to change that against George Mason, a team that has yet to trail at the half.

3. Will Hakim Hart have a break out scoring performance? During the 2020-21 season, Hart averaged 7.1 points per game while shooting 45.2% from the field including 33% from deep. Through the first three games, Hart has averaged four points per game while shooting 30% from the field 0-for-5 from behind the arc. However, his defensive performance has improved significantly since last season as he has a team-high eight steals. Head coach Mark Turgeon pointed out after the Vermont game is that he knows Hart has the potential to score more for the team so it will be interesting to see if the George Mason matchup is where he starts doing so.