Morning review: Breaking down Maryland’s first- and second-half offensive numbers

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – It’s the same old, tired song for the Maryland basketball team, a scratched record spinning on loop. Sporadic brilliance preceded a disappearing act after intermission, which begat another disappointment on the road.

Second-half issues have bitten the Terps hard this season, to the point that Shaq Cleare said after Virginia Tech, “halftime isn’t good for us, unless we’re up 20.” Well, a 13-point halftime margin against Virginia evaporated in minutes and led to a 61-58 overtime loss, but how much credence can be lent to Cleare’s statement? Is Maryland’s offense truly worse after halftime this season? Let’s hit the numbers to find out.

Here’s the vitals, broken down by half, in ACC play. The overtime period at Virginia, Maryland’s first this season, is separate.

Overall

Points per game

FG percentage

3-point percentage

Assist/TO ratio

Points per possession

66.33

.436 (451/1035)

.317 (103/325)

.803 (220:274)

0.98

First half

Points per half

FG percentage

3-point percentage

Assist/TO ratio

Points per possession

31.5

.431 (226/537)

.272 (49/180)

.727 (109:150)

0.924

Second half  

Points per half

FG percentage

3-point percentage

Assist/TO ratio

Points per possession

34.8

.452 (225/498)

.372 (54/145)

.895 (111:124)

1.03

Overtime

Points per overtime

FG percentage

3-point percentage

Assist/TO ratio

Points per possession

4

.200 (1/5)

.000 (0/3)

.000 (0:2)

.475

Relative to their first-half numbers, the Terps are actually better and more efficient in the second half throughout ACC play. But something’s awry here. What about the second-half numbers for the seven games in which they trailed at halftime (at Miami, at North Carolina, at Duke, at Virginia Tech, vs. Virginia, at Georgia Tech and vs. North Carolina)?

Trailing at halftime

Points per half

FG percentage

3-point percentage

Assist/TO ratio

Points per possession

35.1

.466 (90/193)

.300 (18/60)

.891 (41:46)

0.953

So they actually score more points in the second half when trailing, albeit at a below-average rate with a terrible three-point percentage.  Of course, everything is relative to the opponent; it’s entirely possible the Terps’ defense takes a hit as they struggle to play catch-up.

Maryland has also blown halftime leads against Boston College (seven points) and Virginia (13 points) this season. How about those numbers?

Leading at halftime but lost game

Points per half

FG percentage

3-point percentage

Assist/TO ratio

Points per possession

23.5

.250 (14/56)

.333 (6/18)

1.29 (9.7)

.764

Entering the ACC tournament, Coach Mark Turgeon’s bunch is 1-7 when trailing at halftime, 18-3 when leading at halftime, 19-2 when leading with five minutes to go and 0-9 when trailing with five minutes to go.

The second-half numbers against the Cavaliers were dreadful: a season-low 22 points, 25.9 percent shooting (7 for 27) and a paltry .727 points-per-possession.

Turgeon went to great lengths to praise Maryland’s overall effort at Virginia, but admitted that his team hasn’t “grown up all the way” to withstand a second-half comeback on the road like that.

“I don’t know,” Turgeon said. “We’re a young basketball team that played well tonight. We played smarter tonight. We played with effort. If we would have played with this kind of effort Wednesday [against North Carolina], we might have had a different outcome. I can’t fault my guys. For the most part, they were really good. And we did some really nice things.”

Not the least of which was limiting the Cavaliers to 0.66 points per possession in the first half, but that figure swelled to 1.1 after intermission while Maryland’s offense tumbled off a cliff.

“You can’t fault our effort,” Turgeon said. “We did get to the rim. We didn’t finish around the rim. We had a chance for second-chance buckets and couldn’t do it. We missed a lot of shots. Even though we shot 32 percent and only scored 58 points in 45 minutes, I felt like we had control offensively. I never felt like we were being dictated by them, which is hard to do in this building. We got them out of the double teams, which I haven’t seen a team do all year. Then our post guys just couldn’t finish. That’s the bottom line.”

Alex Len finished with 10 points of 2 of 9 shooting, adding Mike Tobey to the list of unheralded ACC players who have pushed him around this season, a list that includes Boston College’s Eddie Odio and Boris Bojanovsky. Because of matchup issues, Charles Mitchell (three points, eight rebounds) and James Padgett (four points, three rebounds) played 16 minutes apiece, while Cleare did not play at all.

“It didn’t force out of what we wanted to do,” Wells said of Virginia abandoning the double team. “It actually gave us confidence with our post guys. We missed some free throws, a couple turnovers, but with that being said, we were in the game the whole time. We played as hard as we could, so I have nothing negative to say about anybody on my team or Virginia. We played hard, but it just wasn’t our day.”

With an NIT invitation still likely, the Terps aren’t totally buried, but they enter Thursday’s ACC tournament on a two-game losing streak, and still haven’t strung together three consecutive wins this calendar year. Insanity could still rear its unpredictable head in Maryland’s favor, but that means bridging a consistent performance across two halves.

“I feel like we came out and we competed, and our team gave a really, really great effort,” Wells said. “I can’t ask for anything more from our team. I’ll take this loss, because it’s going to happen, but we have to learn from it and we have to grow from it with ACCs coming up. We have to be the best team each night we play. Not the best team in the tournament. Just the best team each night.”

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · March 11, 2013