The No. 3 Maryland men's basketball team overcame some turnover woes to easily dispatch Southern New Hampshire in an exhibition game on Friday night, 91-55.
Making his unofficial college debut, five-star center Diamond Stone had 16 points and 5 rebounds. Jake Layman had 15 and 6, and Melo Trimble mixed 14 points with 4 boards and 3 assists. Three-point marksman Jared Nickens, playing a multi-dimensional offensive game, used mostly 2-point baskets en route to double figures. And Robert Carter, in his first game against another team since the spring of 2014, had a double-double: 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Terps enjoyed what was, by preseason standards, a remarkable crowd of 13,598.
Maryland shooting guard Dion Wiley didn't play because of swelling in his right knee, which emerged after practice on Thursday. Wiley had an MRI on Friday during the day, and his status is slated for re-evaluation over the weekend.
Maryland now turns its attention to the games that count. Mount St. Mary's visits in a week, then Georgetown a few days after that for what should be one of the best nonconference atmospheres Maryland has enjoyed in a long time.
The Terps were a bit sloppy in the first half, although the game was never so close as to being considered competitive. The team's first-half assist-to-turnover ratio was an unsightly 6-to-14, while Maryland only scored 0.98 points per possession against an overmatched defense. (The final figure was a better 1.1.)
Much of that was due to shots just not falling, but the Terps still weren't at their best. They never completely hit their stride down the stretch, either, but kept things in hand all the while.
Those turnovers, though, were a black eye all night. Maryland wound up with 23 of them, which wouldn't be acceptable against North Carolina, let alone Southern New Hampshire. That's reasonably attributable to standard first-game messiness, but Mark Turgeon's players need to have it ironed out before Georgetown.
Three things to know
1. Maryland's students turned out in droves. Xfinity Center's student section was packed to its gills for a preseason game against a Division II team. Having only gotten to College Park a little more than three years ago, that isn't something I'd ever seen, and I didn't expect it. But this was a tremendous showing.
This is a preseason game. Days of Maryland student apathy toward basketball appear to be over. pic.twitter.com/YCpwcDOgB0— Testudo Times (@testudotimes) November 7, 2015
2. Robert Carter is going to be a problem. For other teams, that is. Carter was not perfect, just like Maryland at large. But he's got a preternatural mix of speed and size. In one sequence, he caught a pass in the left corner, pump-faked around a defender, drove to the hoop and scored with a foul. In another, he drew a double-team and flicked a pass off to Rasheed Sulaimon to set up a Diamond Stone dunk.
Carter is a smart, smart player with more skill than almost everyone else.
3. Diamond Stone has real touch. It's not especially noteworthy that Stone thrived on offense or pushed around the smallish Southern New Hampshire defenders who were guarding him. That's what Maryland expects from a five-star center. But Stone's touch around the hoop and at the foul line were encouraging. He scored on a couple of hooks from the post, and he was 4 of 4 at the stripe. That Turgeon felt comfortable starting Stone immediately is an excellent sign.