Despite another slow start, the No. 13 Maryland Terrapins used a second-half push to defeat Bryant 84-70. Here are three takeaways from the Terps last non-conference game of the season.
Chol has arrived
Since he committed to Maryland in May, the hype has been building around 7’2” Chol Marial. After surgery to repair a stress fracture in both of his legs, it was unclear how much he would even contribute this year.
But on Sunday, the big man from South Sudan and lived up to the hype. As soon as he checked in, Marial finished an Eric Ayala miss for a slam dunk. Marial would go on to dunk the ball three more times, en route to six points and five rebounds.
The most impressive thing about Marial’s debut was that he was able to play 14 minutes. Marial dealt with injuries all throughout high school, so to play double-digit minutes in his first game is clear progress.
Marial still has some areas to improve on. He allowed some baskets on the interior and couldn’t snag a couple of rebounds in his vicinity, but overall it was a solid debut for the freshman. Given the departures of Makhi and Makhell Mitchell, the Terps will need somebody to fill the 15 minutes per game the twins played. Based on Sunday’s contest, it looks like Marial could be the answer.
Maryland’s three-point stroke comes to life
Entering Sunday, the Terps were shooting a pitiful 30 percent from deep. Their inability to shoot from the outside was evident in their losses at Seton Hall and Penn State. But against Bryant, the Terps suddenly found their rhythm from deep.
Due to a lack of size, the Bulldogs threw a bunch of different zone looks out against the Terps. The zone created open looks for shooters and the Terps capitalized. They shot 7-14 from three for a season-high 50 percent.
The improvement from sophomores Ayala and Aaron Wiggins was evident. The duo shot 4-19 from deep in the previous two games, but they were 4-7 on Sunday. Wiggins and Ayala’s ability to stretch the floor will be key for the Terps in Big Ten play. Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith will constantly get this team points, but Wiggins and Ayala have to shoot well to take this team from good to great.
Donta Scott takes advantage of his opportunity
With the Mitchell twins out of the picture, there are front-court minutes to be had and freshman Donta Scott made the most of his chance. Scott got the start for Maryland and his intensity was evident.
Scott attacked the offensive glass often, snagging seven offensive rebounds. He was efficient finishing around the rim and totaled nine points. Scott’s physicality and ability to guard multiple positions will be important for Maryland, especially in the absence of the Mitchell’s.
The Terps have completed the non-conference part of their schedule and will now resume Big Ten play. They’ll have a six-day break before Indiana visits College Park next Saturday.
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