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Maryland basketball vs. North Carolina A&T preview, how to watch & more

The Terps host the Aggies at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

Maryland basketball Bruno Fernando vs. Navy Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Maryland basketball is 2-0 after opening its 100th season with victories over Delaware and Navy. The Terps are back home Monday night as they host the North Carolina A&T Aggies.

It hasn’t been a pretty start for Maryland, but the Terps have come out of the season’s first week unscathed. They opened up a 22-point lead against Delaware in the opener, but limped to the finish as the Blue Hens made a charge and trimmed the margin as low as three. Maryland ultimately won that game by six, then played Navy close before pulling away in the middle of the second half and winning 78-57.

Three games in seven days can be a lot for a team, but none of Maryland’s first three opponents are in KenPom’s top 200. North Carolina A&T enters this contest 0-2, as the Aggies opened the season with a 74-66 home loss Tuesday to UNC Greensboro before falling 90-78 at Wake Forest on Saturday.

Maryland’s play has raised concerns, but the results are still there.

This is a young team, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some sloppy play early in the season. The Terps have actually kept turnovers down (just 22 in the first two games), but their biggest problem has been three-point shooting. Maryland went 2-of-19 from beyond the arc in the first game and 5-of-23 in the second. That’s a 7-of-42 clip, good for just 16.7 percent success. Cold starts from Anthony Cowan Jr. (2-for-14) and Aaron Wiggins (3-for-12) have been at the heart of this problem. But Cowan shot 36.7 percent from three last season, and Wiggins’ shooting is one of his biggest weapons, so it should only be a matter of time before both right the ship.

Maryland’s depth is perhaps its most pressing concern. In both of the Terps’ first two contests, there’s been a clear dropoff between the top six and the rest of the bench, both in minutes and production. The top six has accounted for 86 percent of Maryland’s minutes and 96 percent of its scoring. Joshua Tomaic, Ivan Bender and Ricky Lindo have all scored exactly two points, and Serrel Smith Jr. hasn’t scored at all. That’s a combined six points from a group that was a question mark coming into the season. Early-season games against lower-tier opponents should be a chance for the reserves to find a rhythm of sorts, but that hasn’t been the case so far.

Because of the soft start to the schedule, these issues haven’t come close to sinking Maryland. Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando have been dominant when they stay out of foul trouble, and Cowan seemed to flip a switch in the second half against Navy. Head coach Mark Turgeon hopes the Terps will continue that momentum into Monday.

North Carolina A&T is coming off a successful season, but has low expectations.

Head coach Jay Joyner took over in 2016 after Cy Alexander resigned midseason. In his first full year, the Aggies staggered to a 3-29 record, including a 1-15 mark in the MEAC. But they flipped the script last season, going 20-15 overall and 11-5 in conference play. However, both Aggies to average double-digit scoring last season are gone, and only one of the top five scorers—point guard Aaren Edmead—is back. North Carolina A&T entered this season ranked 346th in KenPom (there are 353 Division I teams) and has moved up to 342nd after its first two games.

Four different Aggies have recorded double-digit scoring games already this season. In the opener against UNC Greensboro, junior guard Qua Copeland scored 13 points on volume shooting, while graduate center Ibrahim Sylla added 12 and senior forward Terry Harris notched 10. Against Wake Forest, junior guard Andre Jackson tallied 18 points off the bench, Harris chipped in 15 and Copeland scored 10. In the aggregate, Harris and Jackson are averaging 12.5 points and Copeland 11.5, but those numbers are obviously subject to drastic change.

North Carolina A&T is an incredibly small team, with starting center Sylla standing just 6’8 and three guards 6’2 or shorter in the starting lineup. In its first two games, opponents have an 86-54 rebounding advantage. But the Aggies have made up for it with fantastic three-point shooting. They’ve made 20 threes on 44 attempts, a .455 percentage that starkly contrasts Maryland’s freezing-cold start from deep.

The numbers

Maryland: 2-0 (19-13 last season)

North Carolina A&T: 0-2 (20-15 last season)

All-time series: First meeting

How to watch and listen

Monday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m. ET, Xfinity Center, College Park

TV: ESPNU — Will Flemming (Play-By-Play), Adrian Branch (Analyst)

Streaming: WatchESPN

Radio: 105.7FM (Baltimore) / 980AM (DC), TuneIn Radio App (Johnny Holliday, Chris Knoche, Walt Williams); WMUC Sports (Justin Gallanty, Noah Johnson)


KenPom: Maryland 87, North Carolina A&T 59

Me: Maryland 81, North Carolina A&T 62