Sophomore Justin Jackson (21) dribbles as he waits for a teammate to get open, guarded by Purdue senior Vincent Edwards (12). (Lila Bromberg/ The Left Bench)

Maryland set to return after nine-day break to face off against Fairleigh Dickinson

It’s been nine days since the Maryland Terrapins were on the court, and fans are hoping Christmas will come a few days early as the team gets back in action on Thursday.

Nearly a week and a half removed from their last win over Catholic University, the Terps will look to tie their longest win streak of the season against the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights.

The Terps (10-3) started December off with an 80-75 loss to Purdue, but they bounced back with an overtime win against Illinois and have ridden that momentum for the past two weeks. Since then they have averaged 81.6 points and outscored opponents by at least 20 points in two of three games.

Turnovers continue to be an issue that plagues the Terps offense, but there have been some signs of improvement. Maryland turned over the ball just 13 times against Catholic University. They also didn’t lead the game in turnovers, which has happened only twice this season.

Regardless of Maryland’s turnover ratio, its offense continues to be efficient. Sophomore point guard Anthony Cowan continues to impress, averaging 15.8 points and 54-of-123 shooting. With fellow sophomores Justin Jackson and Kevin Huerter, the trio combine for nearly half of the team’s offense.

But Maryland has more offensive firepower hidden in its roster, most notably from freshmen Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell. The two have played in nearly every game so far, and while Fernando leads the team in blocked shots with 23, Morsell comes off the bench to provide an extra offensive spark. In the game against Catholic University, Morsell put up 18 points.

Fairleigh Dickenson (3-7) has lost its last five games, but the Knights have also had a tough start to their season. After tipping off the season against No. 23 Seton Hall, they travelled to play Penn State.

The Knights have also played, and lost to, Princeton, Iona and Rutgers.

Fairleigh Dickinson doesn’t have too many scorers on their roster, but they have shown that they can at least keep up with better competition to a certain degree. The team lost by 22 against Seton Hall, but the Knights did score 68 points and shot 42.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from 3-point range.

Maryland has the tools to put the Knights away, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes for the Terps take control of the game. Maryland has a tendency to let inferior teams hang around longer than they should in the first half. This was the case against Catholic University, which held the lead for nearly 10 minutes of the first half.

Maryland has the potential to be one of the best teams in the Big Ten. But before they get into the bulk of their conference play, the Terps have to figure out how to take leads early and hold them in addition to limiting turnovers.

The game against Fairleigh Dickinson is a good time to fine tune both of those areas. If the Terps can be good in games like this, then it will help them receive gifts in the form of wins in the conference.