Maryland men’s basketball will be back in the Xfinity Center on Friday night, looking to improve on a 3-0 start against Hofstra.
The Terps have started each of their first three games cold from three-point land, but have had enough talent to overcome poor shooting nights. Maryland could be hoping that its performance from last game carries over, as the Terps hit 10 of their last 23 attempts from distance against North Carolina A&T after starting 0-for-7.
Hofstra comes into the contest 2-1, and, like Maryland, also beat North Carolina A&T this week. The Pride split its first two contests, opening the season with an 18-point win over Mount Saint Mary’s before falling by four to Marshall on the road.
Maryland leads the all-time series 4-0, but the two programs haven't played each other since the 2003-04 season. It’s another 7 p.m. ET tipoff for the Terps, airing on BTN Plus.
Hofstra Pride (2-1)
2017-18 record: 19-12, 12-6 Colonial Athletic Association
Head coach Joe Mihalich is in his sixth season at Hofstra and has put together a 90-77 record with the Pride to date. Mihalich is a Washington, D.C., native, and got his coaching start as an assistant down the road at DeMatha after four walk-on seasons at La Salle. He'd later become an assistant at his alma mater for 17 seasons before steering Niagara to two NCAA Tournaments in his first head coaching stop.
Players to know
Justin Wright-Foreman, senior, guard, 6’2/190, No. 3. The senior guard is the Pride’s unquestioned leader through three games, averaging 25.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and two steals. He tied a career-high with seven assists, in addition to 22 points, four rebounds and three steals, against the Aggies.
Eli Pemberton, junior, guard, 6’5/195, No. 5. Pemberton is the tallest of three guards that start for Hofstra, as well as the team’s second-leading scorer and leading rebounder. He's posting averages of 18.7 points and seven boards a game and leads the team in made threes, too.
Desure Buie, senior, guard, 6’/160, No. 4. Buie helms Hofstra’s offense and is tied for the team's top setup man with Wright-Foreman at 4.3 dimes a game. The Bronx, New York, native is also the Pride's third-leading scorer and top pickpocket, averaging 12.3 points and 2.7 steals a night.
Free-throw shooting. Hofstra is tied with Maryland with the nation’s 85th-most fouls drawn so far this season (62), but has converted at a higher rate on fewer free throw attempts. The Pride currently rank No. 45 in the nation at free throw percentage, hitting 76.9 percent of attempts.
Keeping teams out of the paint. Hofstra’s opponents are hitting two-point attempts at a 56 percent clip, ranking in the bottom third for opposing two-point percentage, and a lot of those buckets are coming in the post. In the Pride’s lone loss, so far, against Marshall, the Herd doubled Marshall’s post production 40 points to 20.
Three things to watch
1. Have the Terps turned a corner shooting? After starting the season just 7-of-49 (.143) from beyond the arc, Maryland finished on a relative high note against North Carolina A&T, hitting 10 of its last 23 attempts (.435). With eight of the makes against the Aggies coming off the hands of Anthony Cowan and Aaron Wiggins—who should also take the majority of the team’s triples this season—it’s fair to wonder whether the Terps are warm for good, or have some more cold shooting to work out.
2. Who starts for Mark Turgeon? After the last win, Turgeon admitted he’s still working out his lineup. Pencil in Cowan and Bruno Fernando in as locks, and add five-star Jalen Smith to that group, too. Outside of that, Turgeon is deciding how to fill out his starting lineup primarily between the trio of Darryl Morsell, Eric Ayala and Wiggins. So far, each has two starts and a game as de facto sixth man under their belt, while the best bench performance came with Wiggins coming off the bench.
3. Can Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith stay out of foul trouble? At various points through the first three games, Fernando and Smith have had to go to the bench with foul trouble. While some of the calls have been questionable, it’s hindered the ability for both bigs to play extended minutes next to each other and develop a high-low relationship. Turgeon said it’s still a developing partnership, but thinks Maryland’s best lineup is one that features both bigs.
“I think it’s a work in progress,” Turgeon told reporters at availability Thursday. “I think they’re getting more comfortable, we work on it every day in practice. ... Our first few games, they’ve both gotten in a little bit of foul trouble so we haven’t been able to play that lineup quite as much as we want, but I do think that lineup has become our best lineup, which I was really worried about.”
KenPom: Maryland 83, Hofstra 69
Me: Maryland 85, Hofstra 70