Maryland men’s basketball has one final chance to work out its kinks before Big Ten play kicks into full gear. That opportunity comes on Thursday when it hosts in-state opponent Coppin State in its final nonconference game of the regular season.
The nonconference portion of the schedule has not treated Maryland all too well this season. The Terps are 7-3 against opposition outside the Big Ten, however, three straight losses — including a Quad 4 defeat — soured many on the direction of the season. A recent win at UCLA was notable, but Maryland had to cling on to a dissipating lead to eke out an elusive road victory.
Coppin State, which has struggled mightily this year, presents a chance for a dress rehearsal before the Terps’ schedule heats up.
Thursday’s game, set to tip off at 7 p.m., will air on Big Ten Network.
Coppin State Eagles (1-12, 0-0 MEAC)
2022-23 record: 9-23, 4-10 MEAC
Coppin State didn’t see much success under the tutelage of Maryland legend Juan Dixon, but it hasn’t improved its standing in its first season under Larry Stewart either. The Eagles form one of the worst teams in Division I, ranking second-to-last in the nation at KenPom.com. Their sole win this season came by 19 points against UMBC, but it’s otherwise been a rough go of things for Stewart’s group.
Players to know
Justin Winston, redshirt senior forward, 6-foot-8, No. 35 — Winston is the most frequently used member of Coppin State’s offense, taking 35.4% of the team’s shots this year and averaging a team-best 13.7 points per game. A two-time transfer playing his second season with the Eagles, Winston is the team’s best overall player, also averaging 5.4 rebounds per contest.
Greg Spurlock, junior guard, 6-foot-5, No. 5 — Spurlock ranks second on Coppin State with 8.6 points per game and has seen the most time on the court of any Eagle. He is a steady presence in the backcourt, leading the team with 23 assists this year.
Camaren Sparrow, freshman guard, 6-foot-4, No. 23 — Despite only being a freshman, Sparrow has found a nice role for himself with consistent playing time. A local guard from Baltimore, Sparrow is averaging 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
Forcing turnovers. While its defense hasn’t been good overall, Coppin State has done a solid job of turning its opponents over. The Eagles rank No. 21 in the country in defensive turnover percentage and have the 16th-best steal percentage in Division I.
Offense. According to KenPom, the Eagles have the least efficient offense in all of Division I. Not only do they shoot the ball at a remarkably low clip, but they also turn the ball over as frequently as any team in the country. Their win over UMBC was the only time this season they scored more than 62 points, and they’ve been held under 50 on six occasions.
Three things to watch
1. An encore for Young? Jahmir Young carried Maryland to victory at UCLA, scoring a career-high 37 points. Although it’s possible he’ll earn some extra rest should the margin on the scoreboard become sizable, a matchup with Coppin State provides a chance for similar success.
2. Reese getting back on track. If Maryland wants to have success after the calendar flips to the new year, it’ll need the best from forward Julian Reese. Last Friday’s game against UCLA was one of Reese’s least productive outings in recent memory — he scored just one point and grabbed four rebounds before fouling out — but he scored a career-best 24 points against Coppin State last year, so Thursday could be an opportunity to regain confidence.
3. Final nonconference game. The Terps will have one final opportunity to tune themselves up ahead of Big Ten play on Thursday, given it’s their last game of the regular season against a team not in the Big Ten. The next time Maryland will take the court after Thursday’s game will be against No. 1 Purdue on Jan. 2.