Maryland men’s basketball moved to 3-0 on the season with a 76-52 win over Binghamton, its most dominant of the season.
The Terps dominated inside but struggled from 3-point land for the second straight game. Given the lopsided performance, head coach Kevin Willard experimented with some different defensive looks and lineups throughout the night.
It’s hard to decipher how good Maryland is at this point given its lackluster schedule so far, but with the schedule becoming more difficult in the coming weeks, Maryland fans will find out soon. For now, let’s get to some takeaways from the win.
Turnovers turned into transition baskets.
Maryland got out to an early lead because of its aggressive defense that led to a plethora of Binghamton turnovers. Earlier this week, Willard said the opponent would dictate how much the Terps press. Against Binghamton, the scouting report allowed Maryland to apply full-court pressure early and often.
The Terps sped the Bearcats’ ball handlers up, forcing them into difficult spots on the court that led to poor passes or traveling violations. It was apparent quickly that Maryland’s size and length was going to disrupt Binghamton.
Installing a press was a tactic Willard said he implemented throughout the offseason in an attempt to play at a faster pace. Maryland pressed frequently in game one, but not as much in the second game. Willard wasn’t very impressed with the press after the first game, particularly the back line, he said. On Tuesday night, almost every time the Terps pressed, it was effective.
Maryland forced Binghamton into nine turnovers in the first half that led to 12 fast break points. It finished the game forcing 15 turnovers. If Maryland wants to play with pace, forcing turnovers that lead to transition baskets is the way to do it.
“I think we've come out with really good defensive intensity,” Willard said. “We’ve set the tone early in games with our defensive intensity.”
With Maryland’s schedule heating up this weekend against St. Louis on Saturday and then either Miami or Providence on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how comfortable Willard is pressing against high-caliber opponents.
Maryland’s received contributions from all over the roster.
It was clear from the onset Willard wanted to play as many guys as possible with back-to-back games against tough opponents on the horizon. Given the tenacious energy Maryland showed from the jump, it was able to pull ahead early, giving leeway for reserves to play extended minutes for Maryland.
Jahmir Young and Julian Reese got the scoring going early with four points apiece. Hakim Hart settled in as the first half unfolded and finished with 13 through the first 20 minutes.
As the half went on and Maryland held a near 20-point lead throughout, Willard played 10 total players and eight of them got on the scoreboard in the first half.
For the game, three Terps finished with double figures, including Donta Scott with 10, Reese with 19 and Hart with 13 points. Don Carey and Young each had seven points.
Redshirt freshman Ike Cornish had a career-high nine points off the bench.
“He’s one of the hardest workers I know really,” Reese said about Cornish. “I feel like he deserves everything he's getting right now.”
No starter played more than 26 minutes, a positive for Willard’s squad given the load the starting unit will have to carry this weekend.
Maryland overcame its poor shooting and dominated on the inside, but it will have to correct that soon.
For the second straight game, Maryland was abysmal from 3-point range. But for the second straight game against an inferior opponent, it didn’t matter. Maryland went 2-for-19 from three in its last game against Western Carolina.
Willard said the poor shooting wasn’t a concern and that if guys are playing hard defensively, he’ll allow most of his players to have the “ultimate green light.” He was critical of how rushed the threes were, instead of in-rhythm ones, but he said he doesn't have a problem with the volume.
Maryland’s poor shooting continued on Tuesday night. It finished the game 4-for-20 from long distance. The Bearcats had virtually no size inside, so Maryland overcame its struggles from the outside and dominated in the paint.
The Terps out-rebounded the Bearcats 42-38 and scored 48 points in the paint compared to Binghamton’s 20. Maryland’s dominance inside and willingness to attack the rim in the first three games is encouraging, but against more physical opponents it won’t be as easy.
“I’m starting to get a little worried, to be honest with you,” Willard said.
The reality is the Terps are going to have to knock down 3-pointers consistently if they want to compete against great nonconference teams and elite conference foes.
A big contributor to Maryland’s shortcomings from long distance is the early struggles of sharp-shooting transfer guard Donald Carey. Carey is supposed to be a high volume 3-point shooter from Georgetown, but he is shooting only 14% from deep this season.
The Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off at Mohegan Sun this weekend will serve as a good indicator as to where this Maryland team stacks up amongst other good college basketball programs. If Maryland can't improve its 3-point shooting, at least marginally, in the next four days, it will be tough to leave Connecticut with a win.