With a massive clash against No. 1 Purdue looming, Maryland men’s basketball first needed to take care of Coppin State, which arrived in College Park with just one win.
Maryland — even without an ill Jahmir Young — rolled to a 75-53 victory.
Here are some takeaways from the game.
Young’s absence had little effect
Several Terps needed to step up Thursday to fill the tremendous scoring void left in Young’s absence.
No player had a more enhanced role than Jahari Long, who put up a career-high 15 points in his first start of the season. He played a team-high 30 minutes, commanding the backcourt alongside DeShawn Harris-Smith.
“I think [Long’s] got more confidence in his offensive game,” Terps head coach Kevin Willard said. “He really is the one guy off the bounce that can beat anybody off the dribble. So I think he’s starting to realize the skill he has, the game he has, and the more minutes he gets I think the more confident he gets.”
Freshman Jahnathan Lamothe also saw early action as Willard looked to get a deep rotation of guards in early, but the freshman showed room to grow in a scoreless 15 minutes of action.
Young’s production of 19.3 points per game can’t be replaced, but the Terps still found serviceable production from eight different scorers to take care of business ahead of conference play.
“I think we responded well,” said forward Julian Reese when asked about the team’s performance without Young. “It’s good for other guys to step up and gain that confidence.”
Reese doubled down
Reese was the catalyst of Maryland’s “response.” After a career performance against the Eagles last season, during which he put up 24 points, Reese once again took over on Thursday.
Without Young by his side, the Terps’ big man took full control, bodying defenders from the opening whistle. He scored 18 of Maryland’s 40 paint points and grabbed a quarter of the team’s rebounds in his sixth double-double of the season.
He also added three blocks in an overall dominant performance against an overmatched Coppin State interior.
Up next for Reese: reigning national player of the year Zach Edey.
A tune-up game before Purdue
Willard noted pregame that he hoped scheduling a game during the Christmas break could help Maryland stay sharp ahead of Big Ten play.
A top-ranked and revenge-seeking Purdue squad being the first opponent of the new year will require the Terps to be not just sharp, but to play at its best in every aspect of the game. They were able to knock off the Boilermakers last year, but will have another immensely difficult task ahead of them should they want to do so again.
The Terps looked the part Thursday, albeit against a Coppin State squad which ranks as the second-least efficient team in Division I, per KenPom.com. They now have five days to prepare to take on the most efficient team in the nation.
“Defensively and rebounding, [Purdue] is a much better team than they were last year,” Willard said. “Them being the No. 1 ranked team in the country is well deserved.”