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Maryland basketball vs. Jacksonville State preview: Terps have another chance to bury a weak opponent

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The Terps play their last game before a week-long finals break.

NCAA Basketball: Howard at Maryland Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland basketball played a strong first half against Saint Peter’s leading to the the Terps’ 10th win of the season, but they crumbled in the later stage of the game. The Terps will look to play a complete game against Jacksonville State on Monday night before a taking week-long break for final exams.

Jacksonville State is 5-5 and coming off an overtime loss to Louisiana Monroe less than 48 hours before Monday’s game in College Park. The Gamecocks came back from 10 down with less than five minutes to play in regulation to force the extra session but eventually lost to the Warhawks on the road by a score of 88-83.

Their victories have come over Dalton State, Cal State Fullerton, Northern Arizona, Alabama State, and probably most impressively Tulsa. Their best opponent so far has been TCU, which handed them a 79-60 loss.

A victory over Jacksonville State will not be a resume-building win, but a loss here would tarnish the Terrapins’ NCAA tournament chances. Maryland has had a knack for keeping it close with mid-majors, so the spread should be an interesting one to watch.

This game will tip at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.

Jacksonville State (5-5)

2015-16 record: 8-23

Head coach: Ray Harper is in his first season as the Gamecocks’ head coach after taking over for James Green. He was 89-64 in his five seasons at Western Kentucky.

KenPom ranking: 232 (Maryland is 66)

Players to watch

Erik Durham, G, senior, 6'4/190, No. 15. Durham is Jacksonville State's leading scorer at 12.4 points per game, and is a sharp shooter from beyond the arc. He does not attack the rim too much, evidenced by his mere seven free-throw makes on the season, but he’s shooting 54 percent from beyond the arc. Nearly 70 percent of Durham's shots come from deep, so Maryland will have to make sure to play him tight on the perimeter.

Malcolm Drumwright, G, junior, 6'2/185, No. 21. Drumwright is also a strong three-point shooter at 46 percent, and is Gamecocks’ primary ball handler. He averages four assists per game, but with that come miscues as he is good for nearly four turnovers a game. Stopping Drumwright will be the key to the Terps stopping the Jacksonville State offense.

Norbertas Giga F, freshman, 6'10/245, No. 12. Giga is easily the tallest Gamecock in Green's rotation, so it is reasonable that he is the team's leading rebounder at nine per game. The Lithuanian is also capable of scoring the rock inside with a team-high 51 made field goals on the season, which is a big part of his 12.2 points per game. Giga plays a role as the Gamecocks’ rim protector as well.

Strengths

Shooting beyond the arc. Led by Durham, Jacksonville State ranks 13th in the nation by shooting 41 percent from three-point range. The Gamecocks average 8.7 made three-pointers per game. Jacksonville State's efficient shooting from beyond the arc is also exemplified in its 56 percent effective field goal percentage, which is good for 27th in the country.

Weaknesses

Defending the three-point arc. As good as they are offensively from beyond the arc, Jacksonville State is worse on the defensive end. The Gamecocks allow opponents to shoot 42 percent from deep on them, which ranks 335th out of the nation’s 351 teams.

Forcing turnovers. Only 16 percent of the Gamecock's opponents’ possessions end in turnovers, which ranks 324th in the country. In past years, the Terps have gotten into trouble by committing too many turnovers, but they may have an easier time avoiding miscues against Jacksonville State.

Prediction

KenPom’s prediction: Maryland wins, 74-60. The Terps have a 90 percent chance of winning.

Neil’s prediction: Maryland wins, 65-56. The Terps lead most of the way through but are unable to bury Jacksonville State early.