Maryland men’s basketball returned to Xfinity Center on Thursday for its first game in eight days and made easy work of Fairleigh Dickinson, coasting to a 75-50 win.
It was a team effort, as seven different Terps had at least nine points and five ended this one in double digits. Though he didn’t finish as the scoring leader, Kevin Huerter led Maryland with a near triple-double of 12 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. The 15 boards were the most for any Terp since Charles Mitchell in 2014.
Though freshman Bruno Fernando returned from an ankle sprain, the Terps were down three contributors for the second straight game. Justin Jackson missed his third straight game with shoulder soreness, per the team. Meanwhile, an illness kept Dion Wiley out for his second consecutive game, and Michal Cekovsky missed his first of the season with ankle soreness.
With Cekovsky and Jackson out, Fernando picked up his fifth start and Darryl Morsell picked up his third; it was Turgeon’s first time starting both freshmen. Fernando finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and a block, while Morsell was everywhere in the second half and tied a team-high 13 points on the night.
The early results were good. Bender scored Maryland’s first six points, all in the paint, and a flush by Fernando forced Fairleigh Dickinson to burn a timeout down 10-4 with over 16 minutes.
Turnover issues have become commonplace for this team, and the early goings of this one weren’t much different. Three turnovers in the next few minutes saw Maryland’s lead shrink to one, before a Jared Nickens three-pointer woke the Terps up a bit.
Turgeon called a timeout to get his starters back in, but the lineup really that opened up the floor featured Anthony Cowan, Huerter, Morsell, Fernando and Nickens. With Fernando roving the paint and everyone else outside the arc, the Terps slung the ball all over the court and the Knights were forced to fly around to keep up.
After holding a 20-19 lead with 9:51 left, the Terps went on an incredible 24-0 run and took a 46-23 lead into halftime. Huerter had a team-high 10 points at the half, going 4-of-4 from the field and hitting both of his three-point attempts. Fernando and Nickens followed closely with nine points each.
The Knights couldn’t do much in the second half to change the outcome. A 19-point Terps lead was the closest the game would get in the final period. Morsell turned it on early, adding six quick points before finishing with 13. After hitting almost everything in the first half, Maryland missed its first first eight threes of the half before Nickens broke the seal with his fourth triple of the night.
Turgeon is now a game away from 400 career wins, and will have the opportunity to complete the feat next week when Maryland closes out its five-game home stand against UMBC on Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. ET.
Three things to know
- Jared Nickens, the stretch four? This is an idea I’ve seen around the comment boards, and it’s gaining merit. Nickens is now 10-16 from deep over the last three games, and hit his first three triples, before finishing 4-8. He’s been Maryland’s most lethal long-ball shooter, and is .560 three-point percentage is tops among Terps who’ve taken at least 10. However, he’ll have to contribute more on the glass to keep getting consistent minutes.
- Fernando’s back, but the Terps have to get healthy. Getting Fernando healthy before the end of this home stand was huge. He was Maryland’s most vocal player before going down during the Ohio game, and transitioned seamlessly back into the lineup. That helps, but the Terps are going to need the trio of Jackson, Wiley and Cekovsky healthy to make it through Big Ten season.
- Ball control. Ball control. Ball control. Hey, guess what? Maryland still turned the ball over way too many times again. Against one of the few teams in Division I basketball that turned the ball over at a higher rate, Maryland still ended with 17 turnovers, compared to 10 from the Knights.