Maryland suffered its first defeat Tuesday night, an 8-point loss to the No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels on the road at the Dean Dome. The loss was anything but concerning, as the Terrapins committed several costly mistakes that should have had the No. 2 team in the country trailing by more than just six points at the end of the first half.
Here are five takeaways from Maryland's first game against a ranked opponent.
1. Maryland turned the ball over 22 times, and eight of those belonged to Melo Trimble.
Committing 13 turnovers in the first half alone was less than ideal. North Carolina runs its offense at a quick rate and holds the 38th quickest adjusted tempo rate in the nation according to KenPom. Part of the reason the Tar Heels are able to play at such a fast rate is their tight defense over half court. Maryland played into North Carolina's pace, disrupted by the defense, and the Terrapins, who run at the 283rd quickest adjusted tempo, struggled mightily and fell out of rhythm early.
2. Maryland's offense couldn't take the Tar Heels' bigs.
The strength of North Carolina's bigs was too much for Diamond Stone, Robert Carter and Maryland's unfamiliar frontcourt. The Tar Heels forced the Terps' bigs to catch the ball farther away from the hoop than they're used to, causing flustered play and extra unprotected dribbles. Maryland had to rely on its guard play to stay in the game, something they'd done a good job of avoiding all season.
3. Maryland's defense struggled against North Carolina's bigs.
Diamond Stone's inexperience showed as center Kennedy Meeks scored 12 points on 6 of 11 shooting. Robert Carter was the first starter sent to the bench after his poor defensive play as forward Brice Johnson poured in 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Mark Turgeon's defense is nowhere close to its potential yet, which is expected when incorporating two fresh bodies to the team's starting big-man positions. Collapsed defensive effort around the rim led to quick lay-ins and alley-oops for the Heels, and made Maryland's comeback all the more difficult.
4. and 5. Rasheed Sulaimon and Melo Trimble's fantastic guard play.
The duo combined for 41 of Maryland's 81 points and were essentially Maryland's only offensive weapons in the second half. Melo Trimble looked like a true player of the year candidate with 23 points and 12 assists of his own, more than making up for his early-game turnovers. Rasheed Sulaimon was his perfect complement as the senior deflected ACC-rivalry boos from his time with Duke, to score 18 points including five made 3-point attempts.
The Terps look to regain balance at home Friday against St. Francis.