Although it got off to another slow start Tuesday night, No. 6 Maryland men’s basketball remains unbeaten after a 74-55 victory over Fairfield.
Here’s our biggest takeaways from the Terps’ fourth victory of the season.
1. Free throw shooting was sub-par
Entering into the matchup against Fairfield, Maryland was shooting an average of 70 percent from the line.
But despite getting into the bonus nine minutes into the game, the Terps went 14-for-25 from the line for a season low 56 percent from the charity stripe. Sophomore Jalen Smith was the only player who made more than two free throws, going 7-for-9 from the line.
But Smith’s teammates — including Anthony Cowan Jr., Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo Jr., Eric Ayala, Makhi Mitchell, Serrel Smith Jr., Hakim Hart and Makhel Mitchell — combined to convert the same number of free throws.
“I’ll talk about it, and I don’t like talking about [it] — our free throw shooting has to get better,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “It’s frustrating for me — guys got to step up and make them.
“[Jalen Smith] stepped up tonight. ... But there are some guys, if they want to play, they have to hit free throws.”
Although it may not have mattered tonight en route to a 19-point victory, the Terps’ free throw struggles could come back to hurt them in a big-time game.
2. Maryland’s full-court pressure
Following the first points of the game, Turgeon assembled his players into a full court press that appeared to be the skeleton of a 1-2-2 with Smith guarding the inbounder.
The full court press was just one of the many defensive game plans that the Terps have executed this season, including 1-3-1 full and half court schemes and other zone strategies.
While in year’s past Turgeon has gone away from interchanging his defenses, this season appears to be different due to the team’s athleticism and length.
Prior to Tuesday’s matchup, the Terps forced their opponents into 17 turnovers per game.
Maryland continued its pressure against the Fairfield, forcing the Stags in 16 turnovers that translated into 16 points.
“I think this is their deepest team,” said Fairfield head coach Jay Young, who spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach at Rutgers. “I was telling [assistant coach] Matt Brady that this is, if not their most talented team, it’s certainly the deepest.
“...You can switch one through five and you can switch through ball screens and guys can play multiple positions. It’s always a good thing,” Young said.
3. Ricky Lindo Jr. sets a career-high
In the second game of the season against Rhode Island, Lindo only played seven minutes while recording three points.
Turgeon said that after the game against the Rams, he asked the sophomore if he understood why he didn’t play more. Although Lindo didn’t know the answer, Turgeon said that it was his body language from being too hard on himself.
Since that discussion, Turgeon noted that he has seen a change from the D.C. native.
On Tuesday night against Fairfield, Lindo’s potential came to fruition as he dropped a career high 13 points on 6-for-6 shooting to go along with seven rebounds.
In the second half, Lindo, who said he was recruited mainly for rebounding and defense, led both teams into the under-16 timeout after scoring a bucket, grabbing a defensive rebound and assisting Jalen Smith for a layup all in a matter of 39 seconds.
“In practice, he always one of our best players,” Jalen Smith said. “He just continues to work hard. And when his number was called, he showed up. So, I’m happy for him.”