The Maryland Terrapins improved to 11-3 overall this season with a convincing 75-50 victory over the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights at home on Thursday night.
Due to some injuries, an unfamiliar Terrapin lineup took the floor against the Knights. Fairleigh Dickinson was able to hang around for about the opening 10 minutes or so, but once Maryland began to pull away the Knights had no response.
Balanced scoring and smothering defense were the two most significant decisive factors in Maryland’s fifth consecutive victory.
Let’s take a look at three major takeaways from the game.
What We Learned:
1. The Terrapins Are Deeper Than We Thought.
Though the 3-7 Knights didn’t present a particularly tough task for Maryland, the Terrapins were hit bad with the injury bug before this one.
Three of Maryland’s frequent starters and key contributors were forced to sit this one out. Justin Jackson missed the contest because of shoulder soreness, Dion Wiley was one the bench with a sore ankle, and Michal Cekovsky was forced to sit out with an illness.
The fact that these three guys all didn’t play is probably why Maryland allowed Fairleigh Dickinson to compete for a decent amount of the first half. But, nevertheless, Maryland won and they won big.
Bruno Fernando returned from an injury to score 11 points and collect eight rebounds. Junior forward Ivan Bender, who was only averaging 2.7 points per game going into the game, scored a season-high 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Jared Nickens was another player who stepped up for the Terps when called upon. Nickens added 12 points and collected five rebounds.
Plain and simple, Maryland had no problem adjusting without a handful of key players, proving its depth. It’s evident that players beyond the normal contributors can get the job done if need be.
2. Maryland Keeps Finding More Team Chemistry.
This Maryland squad has lost three games this season. However, it’s worth noting that those three defeats were by a combined nine points. The Terps are really only a couple of buckets away from being undefeated.
Since dropping two straight nail-biters to Syracuse and Purdue, the Terps have responded in the most ideal manner possible. Maryland has gone 5-0 since the minor skid and has won four of the five games by at least 17 points.
Obviously the Terps’ current state of health is far from perfect, but the fact that injuries haven’t slowed this team down will only help their chemistry down the stretch.
Maryland went on a 24-0 run in the first half against the Knights on Thursday. Not only is a run of that magnitude difficult against any team, they did it using an uncommon rotation of players. That tells me that the Terps are really on the same page from the bottom to the top of the roster.
3. The Terps Displayed an Impressive Scoring Distribution.
The 75 points scored by Maryland against the Knights is actually a little below their season average of 79.7 points per game.
While the overall scoring wasn’t at its best tonight, the way in which the Terps scored is something Maryland fans should be very proud of.
The Terps didn’t have one player score over 13. But, six different Maryland players scored at least 11, including all five starters. Distribution like that during Big Ten play would really benefit the Terps.
Despite significant injuries, Maryland is playing exceptional basketball right now. With that being said, the Terps will need to get back to full-health if it wants to continue to win consistently in Big Ten play.
The Terps have a little over a week to heal up before getting into the thick of Big Ten play against Penn State on January 2nd.