The Maryland men’s basketball team is off to another undefeated start to the season, but the Terps should consider themselves lucky to be 4-0 for the fourth consecutive season after avoiding an upset from Bucknell with an 80-78 victory.
Now, as the Terps get ready to play the Jackson State on Monday, the question is whether Maryland’s struggles against Bucknell will continue against the Tigers.
“We were just soft,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said of his team’s first half performance against Bucknell. “So, our game plan was wrong.”
Maryland found itself in a 50-35 hole at halftime, but the team’s offense quickly came back to life when freshman guard Darryl Morsell scored 12 points in the second half.
Forward Bruno Fernando, another freshman, also got the team and crowd into the game, as he scored 14 points and pumped up the crowd at every opportunity. Maryland will likely need the two freshmen to come up big against the Tigers.
“Darryl really changed the game,” sophomore guard Anthony Cowan said after the Bucknell game. “He’s a very intense player, so is Bruno, so when they’re both in the game it kind of boosts everyone’s spirits a little bit. It makes everyone play a little bit harder. Darryl and Bruno really picked us all up.”
Fernando’s performance in his second start of the year should encourage the Terps to get him in more one-on-one situation against the Tigers, which suits Fernando just fine.
“Obviously it gets me a lot better, but it also gets my team better,” he said. “It just shows how much confidence they have on us big guys. I’m able to get the ball down low. Them passing the ball to us and being able to make plays down low just keeps us going as a team.”
After opening the season with an 86-46 win over Millsaps, Jackson State lost its next two games by 28 and 16 points. The Tigers have shot 41 percent so far this season, and they have struggled at the free throw line, shooting just 58 percent as a team.
Jackson State does have some scorers hidden in its roster, though. Jeremiah Johnson and Maurice Rivers lead the team with . Rivers has proven to be the better shooter of the two, shooting 56 percent from the field.
On paper, it looks like Maryland should dominate on the boards for Monday’s game. The Terps have finished with at least 40 rebounds in all of their games so far this season, while Jackson State averages 34.7 rebounds a game and allows 35.7 rebounds..
The Tigers have also forced 50 turnovers so far this year, which should be a point of emphasis in their game plan against the Terps. Maryland ranks 13th in the Big Ten in turnover margins, and it doesn’t fare much better in assist to turnover ratio.
If the Terps play how they did against Butler, they should improve to 5-0 before they travel to Destin, Florida to play St. Bonaventure on Nov. 24.
Yet, if they struggle in a similar fashion to the way they did against Bucknell, it might be another game that comes down to the wire.
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