Maryland men’s basketball is 6-2 as November wraps up, and because the Big Ten tournament will be held in Madison Square Garden this season, the Terps are gearing up to invite Purdue to the Xfinity Center on Dec. 1.
Maryland wades into Big Ten play for two games, which provides an interlude from nonconference play.
Maryland started the season strong. There were cracks—turnover issues from the beginning and Justin Jackson started the season 1-of-11 from beyond the arc— but the Terps started the season 5-0. Anthony Cowan was leading the Terps in scoring with 14.6 points a game, and despite his struggles from deep Jackson was Maryland’s leading rebounder with 9.8 boards a night.
The Terps opened the season with wins over Stony Brook and Maryland-Eastern Shore and followed up with a convincing win over Butler and a comeback victory against Bucknell. Maryland then cruised into the Thanksgiving break undefeated, after dropping Jackson State at home.
Then Maryland took a trip down to Niceville, Florida, and St. Bonaventure exploited the cracks in the foundation. The Bonnies went with a 1-3-1 zone for most of the game that stifled the Terps offense and forced them into 20 turnovers. Maryland would lose by two, before rebounding with a win over New Mexico to finish third in the Emerald Coast Classic.
Syracuse became the first team to outrebound Maryland, 39-33, when the Terps fell just short in the Carrier Dome. That was despite Kevin Huerter’s season high 23 points—hitting 7-of-9 three-pointers—just a couple hours from his hometown Clifton Park, New York.
So the Terps wrap up their early slate 6-2 heading into a matchup with Purdue, who also sits at 6-2 after losses to Tennessee and Western Kentucky in a stretch from Nov. 22-23.
Maryland has been big on the boards early and posted the third best offensive rebounding percentage in the country, per KenPom. Freshmen Darryl Morsell and Bruno Fernando have also stepped up as contributors, with the former winning a Big Ten Freshman of the Week award already this season.
However, the Terps will have to improve on their 25.4 percent turnover rate if they’re going to survive a run in the Big Ten. A two-game stretch against Purdue and Illinois will provide a barometer of just where Maryland stands in the conference.
In other news
The women’s team made it out of Charlottesville, Virginia, with a 60-59 win, with a Kaila Charles layup as the deciding bucket in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge game against the Cavaliers.
Four of Maryland’s defensive players earned honorable mention All-Big Ten nods on Tuesday and yesterday wide receiver D.J. Moore was named first team all-conference after leading the league in touchdowns, yards and receptions. Derwin Gray and Ty Johnson also earned offensive honorable mentions.
For all his successes, longtime Maryland basketball coach Lefty Driesell is not in the Naismith Hall of Fame. The Athletic makes the case for his inclusion.
Fernando’s play so far has surprised even Mark Turgeon, who touted his abilities before the season began, from InsideMDSports.