Maryland men’s basketball picked up a convincing home win on Saturday afternoon, holding the lead from start to finish as it beat Northwestern by 16.
Head coach Mark Turgeon went back to a four-guard starting five, featuring Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, Dion Wiley and Darryl Morsell floating around the perimeter with Bruno Fernando inside. Cowan and Huerter starred again for the Terps, combining for 38 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Morsell and Wiley were the X-factor, giving Maryland a spark on both ends and adding another 24 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.
Wiley’s primarily been a scorer in his time in College Park, to varied success, but defense has never been his calling card. He turned in the best defensive effort of his career against the Wildcats, a statement backed by Turgeon, Cowan and assistant coach Kevin Broadus. All just a couple days after he was nearly invisible in the loss to Penn State.
“Dion guarded, he was in the right spot, he switched out, he was alert, he was able to box out,” Turgeon said after the game. “We went to Penn State, he played 23 minutes, he had zero assists, zero turnovers and zero rebounds. I said, ‘At least turn the damn ball over. Do something to get in the stat sheet.’ He was more aggressive today, and we needed him. We need Dion to be like that.”
Instead of folding, Wiley took the film room criticism in stride and turned in his most well-rounded game as a Terp. He had 10 points, but his scoring came secondary. He locked in on both ends and chipped in five rebounds and four assists with just one turnover, while also hitting 4-of-7 shots from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.
“[Turgeon] just wanted me to get on the stat sheet,” Wiley said. “It didn’t really matter what it was, he just wanted me to give more to the team. ... This morning I went into the game thinking just rebound and defend, and I think it carried over to my offense.”
For his part, Morsell excelled in the second half. After having four points, three assists and two rebounds at intermission, he was the aggressor in the final frame. He racked up 10 points, seven rebounds, including four on the offensive boards, and a couple timely tips as Maryland solidified its lead. He'd finish the night with 14 points and nine rebounds, nearly notching a double-double.
Morsell also added a jumper to his stat sheet, as he’s becoming more confident firing inside the arc. With Big Ten teams sagging off of him, developing a consistent jumper seems to be the obvious next stage for Morsell.
“That’s the Darryl we recruited. He played like the Darryl we recruited today,” Turgeon said. “I was begging our guys at halftime to get an offensive rebound. ... We had zero at halftime and I thought all of Darryl’s tips were just huge for us.
“Darryl hit the midrange shot, which is big for us. It’s big for him as his career goes on. You see his game evolving and getting better. It was a good game for him.”
All four starting guards would finish the game with double-digit scoring, and perhaps more importantly, all four were locked in defensively. Maryland’s guards also accounted for 25 of its 32 rebounds and five of its seven offensive boards.
Turgeon seems committed to the four-guard lineup, mostly as a byproduct of injuries. However, that requires consistent contributions on both ends, which he got from his guards against Northwestern. This was one of Maryland’s most complete performances of the season, and it’ll need to replicate the defensive energy to close out the year strong.