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Maryland basketball found success bringing freshmen off the bench vs. North Carolina A&T

Mark Turgeon’s latest lineup shuffle resulted in a season-high 27 bench points for the Terps.

Lila Bromberg | Testudo Times

Maryland men’s basketball notched its first hands-down blowout of the season on Monday night, handling North Carolina A&T 82-59. The Terps improved to 3-0, as Mark Turgeon used his third different lineup of the season.

This time, Aaron Wiggins came off the bench, functioning as the sixth man, while Anthony Cowan Jr., Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith started alongside Eric Ayala and Darryl Morsell. The change produced results, as Wiggins accounted for a season-high 14 of 27 bench points. Ricky Lindo added four points on 2-of-4 shooting, with seven boards and four assists, while Serrel Smith Jr. added seven points on 3-of-9 shooting.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with the starting lineup,” Turgeon said when asked about the bench performance after the game. “Darryl [Morsell] responded to not starting the last game, so I put him back in there tonight. I think Aaron [Wiggins] is more comfortable coming off the bench to be quite honest with you. Ricky [Lindo] had his best game since he’s been here; we’ve seen that in practice. He’s very long, he really rebounded well, he affected shots by the rim and he made some really good passes.”

The 27 points off the bench also represent a season high; Maryland had 10 and 17 against Delaware and Navy, respectively (oh, and Morsell had 15 of those 17 bench points against the Midshipmen). Where Maryland would find relief scoring was starting to become an issue before last night’s relatively balanced outing.

Wiggins coming off the bench coincided with his, and the team’s, best shooting night. After starting the season just 3-of-14 from beyond the arc, he found a comfort level against the Aggies and hit 4-of-8 from three. Billeted as a shooter, whether his shot has been falling or not, Wiggins has consistently impressed by doing everything else on the court. In addition to 11 points, the North Carolina native is averaging five rebounds, three assists and 2.7 steals through three games.

“Coming into Maryland, that’s one thing Coach would tell me—that when my shot isn’t falling I got to make sure I’m doing other things really well, so just rebounding, playing defense and things,” Wiggins said. “So that’s something I’ve worked on since I’ve gotten up here, and I guess I’m doing pretty well. Really got to continue to do it, just rebound well, defensively get steals and do what I can to help my team.”

After signing with the team late in the summer, Lindo also had the best game of his young college career. The lanky forward made aggressive moves to the rim, resulting in two layups, and held his own on the boards, as his seven rebounds were tied for the second-most in the game on either team. Probably most surprisingly, Lindo was one of five Terps to finish with at least four assists.

“[My mindset was] just keep being aggressive,” Lindo said. “My teammates kept pushing me, telling me, ‘Keep going, keep attacking the rim. Even though you miss, you gotta keep going don’t put your head down.’ That’s what I did tonight.”

Smith Jr. still had a relatively rough night, missing his first six three point attempts before getting one to fall for the first time all season, but had a couple solid possessions. Smith did his best Jamal Crawford impression on two possessions, with a couple pull-up jumpers in space. Those two makes represent his only non-three-point attempts of the night. His only contribution outside of that was three rebounds in a little over 16 minutes.

“Serrel is still finding himself,” Turgeon said. “He made few shots tonight, but he’s not playing the way that he’s capable of playing. He knows that, but I did play him almost 17 minutes, so he can get more comfortable and hopefully each time he gets to play better for us because we need him. We need Serrel to play well as the season goes on.”

Maryland will be back in the Xfinity Center on Friday, when Hofstra comes to town for a matchup. That game will get underway at 7 p.m. ET on BTN Plus.