The No. 3 Maryland men's basketball team started its highly anticipated 2015-16 season with an 80-56 win against Mount St. Mary's at Xfinity Center on Friday night. The Mountaineers did a commendable job to keep the game competitive into the second half before Maryland pulled away in front of a an announced 17,950-spectator sellout.
As ever, Jake Layman and Melo Trimble paved the way for the Terrapins with 16 and 14 points, respectively, on a combined 13-of-21 shooting. In their official Maryland debuts, fellow starters Rasheed Sulaimon (5 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds), Diamond Stone (10 points, 7 boards) and Robert Carter (10 and 8) each showed encouraging signs. Five Maryland players reached double figures: Trimble, Layman, Carter, Stone and Jared Nickens.
The victory sets up Maryland at 1-0 ahead of Tuesday's exciting local clash with Georgetown. That game has stirred up a bunch of student enthusiasm, and Xfinity Center should be quite a place to be when the Terps and Hoyas meet up.
Maryland's first half was sloppy. The Terps had a couple of two-to-one leads on the Mountaineers – 22-11 and then 28-14 – but coughed up 8 turnovers and saw the Mountaineers go on a run of hitting 6 of 8 3-pointers as the half near its end. The Terps had a couple of highlight-reel sequences, including this Layman dunk and a gorgeous transition 3-point setup for Jared Nickens. But they were messy and let the game stay tighter than optimal.
Maryland kept a firm enough grip on things in the second half. The Terps scored 14 of the game's 22 points in the opening eight minutes of the frame, and that was all they needed to avoid any significant danger. A 12-1 run over about six minutes in the middle of the half left the game signed, sealed and delivered to Maryland.
For a second-straight game – if you count last week's exhibition – turnovers were a dark mark. Maryland wound up with 14 against 15 assists, which will at least leave Mark Turgeon with a lot to think about before Tuesday.
Still, Maryland found the win column without any grave danger. That's a perfectly fine way to start.
Three things to know
1. The aggressive Jake Layman showed up. That's a good sign for Maryland. Layman is one of the Big Ten's best players, but he has a long history of sometimes mixing brilliance with long stretches of quietness. Against the Mount, Layman was assertive all the way through. He took 7 shots in the first half (and made 5) and finished up with 10 field goal attempts and 16 points. Much of the talk about Maryland has centered on its guards and its new set of big men, but Layman's still very much out here.
2. Diamond Stone isn't shy. Stone took three shots in the first few moments of Maryland's exhibition game last Friday, and he started this game by backing down 7-foot Mount St. Mary's center Taylor Danaher for two quick post baskets, both on reverse finishes. Not everything fell for Stone on Friday, as he finished just 4 of 9 from the field. But he's got all the tools to be one of Maryland's most memorable big men ever.
3. Maryland's guard depth could be a problem. Trimble and Sulaimon are both stars, and Nickens does his 3-point thing exceptionally well. But new backup point guard Jaylen Brantley hasn't looked comfortable just yet, and Dion Wiley's season-ending meniscus injury doesn't leave Maryland with a hugely deep backcourt. For now – and in almost all of non-conference play – this shouldn't be an issue. But if somebody gets hurt, it absolutely won't be good.