Thanks to a big comeback against Bucknell, Maryland basketball is still undefeated with a 4-0 record.
It wasn’t easy, but in the end, the Terps got the job done with a 80-78 win against their Patriot League opponent. After being down 15 at half, freshmen Darryl Morsell and Bruno Fernando led the team on the comeback trail, while important contributions from Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter helped seal the deal.
Up next for the Terps, they’ll face off against Jackson State of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Tigers are 1-2 on the year, having beaten Millsaps in their season opener 84-46, but losing to Mercer and St. Bonaventure by a combined 42 points.
They’ll travel from Mississippi to College Park for a 7 p.m. ET game at Xfinity Center on Big Ten Network.
Jackson State Tigers (1-2)
2016-17 record: 14-18 (10-8 SWAC)
Head coach Wayne Brent is now in his 5th year with the team. His record at the school is only 57-77, but that speaks to the level of competition the Tigers schedule out of the conference to gain good experience against top teams. Within the SWAC, they’ve held their own, going 38-34 since the start of the 2013 season.
Players to know
Maurice Rivers, senior, forward, 6’7, No. 12. His role was a lot smaller last year for this Tigers team, but he’s thrived so far in a leading role. His 14.0 points per game are tied for the team lead, and he scores efficiently as well. Rivers shoots .567 from the field and an insane 60 percent from deep. The Terps will have their hands full trying to slow him down.
Darius Austin, senior, forward, 6’6, No. 23. The Centreville, Illinois, native will be tasked with guarding Maryland’s best shooters. He also provides an offensive spark off the bench, posting 9.0 points per game to go along with 4.0 rebounds.
Defensive takeaways. One of the best things this Jackson State team does is take the ball away from its opponents. The Tigers’ 11.7 steals per game put them at No. 5 in the entire nation. Paris Collins leads them with 2.3 steals of his own, but they have contributions from the entire defense; seven players average at least one steal per game.
Rebounding. As a team, the Tigers average just about 35 rebounds per game, which ranks 267th out of the 351 Division I basketball teams. That speaks to their lack of height among the key players, with most of their forwards standing around 6’7.
Three things to watch
1. How will Maryland come off the scare against Bucknell? Against the Bison, the Terps fell 15 behind in the first half and relied on a large comeback to seal the victory. Maryland must come out firing on all cylinders if it wants to play an easy game, and if the Terps struggle out of the gate, they could find themselves too far down to right the ship.
2. How much will Maryland’s rebounding edge affect this game? Maryland is 10th in the country with a plus-17.3 rebounding margin. This causes the Terps to have a lot of second chances while avoiding the other team from getting them. On the other hand, Jackson State’s rebounding margin is negative. The Terps definitely have the size advantage thanks to Fernando, Michal Cekovsky, and Ivan Bender. Having them down low could prove to be a decisive advantage for Maryland.
3. Will Justin Jackson finally break out? Jackson tested the NBA Draft waters, but ultimately decided to come back to Maryland for his sophomore year. In four games, he’s only broken double digits once (11 vs. Stony Brook) and has shot just .353 from the floor and .100 from deep. The Terps haven’t necessarily needed him to step up so far this year, but moving forward, he needs to break out of his dry spell.
KenPom: Maryland, 81-57
Me: Maryland, 85-62