>> Through 10 games this season, the Maryland basketball team had established itself as a pass-first bunch with a knack for cleaning up on rebounds and playing tough interior defense, but struggled to execute the half-court offense and make perimeter jumpers.
But against Stony Brook in a 76-69 win Friday night, the Terrapins bucked those statistical trends, making 9 of 18 three-pointers despite playing post defense that Coach Mark Turgeon said, “just wasn’t any good.” What’s more, Maryland notched only 11 turnovers, tied for its season-low, most off either errant post-entry or offensive fouls, simply trying to force the issue rather than look for a better option. Dez Wells had five of those 11 turnovers, two of which came on some questionable charge calls. Only Pe’Shon Howard (two turnovers against seven assists) had more than one giveaway.
“We were pretty good,” Turgeon said. “We still shot 52 percent, almost 53 percent. We did a lot of nice things. We shared the ball and adjusted to some of the things that they were doing…I will take a lot of positive sout of this game.”
Not the least of which should be Maryland’s hot shooting from beyond the arc. Seth Allen was 3 of 4 and made solid shot selections, curling off back screens or doubling back when his defender tried to jump his cut. Pe’Shon Howard was 2 for 5 from the field, though he was 0 for 3 in the second half.
“He had good looks,” Turgeon said of Howard. “Our offense flowed better in the first half. They did a much better job of guarding us in the second half. We’ve really been on Pe’Shon shooting the ball, we need him to make open shots.”
The Terps entered shooting just .321 on three-pointers this season, and still rank ninth in the ACC with a .339 mark. But they’re second in field-goal percentage at .493, often wisely passing up two-point jumpers in favor of either close-range attempts or three-pointers.
>> Alex Len, who finished tied for a game-high 19 points, still missed 3 of 6 free throws, including consecutive attempts with less than a minute left, which he followed up with a monstrous dunk that put Maryland up by five points.
Len has missed as many free throws in the past three games (eight) as he did in the season’s first eight combined. Naturally, the tireless worker pulled a Juan Dixon, performing a late-night free-throw session in an empty Comcast Center with a Maryland graduate assistant.
Len hit a few soft feathery jumpers against Stony Brook and was 8 for 14 from the field, but was visibly upset afterward with his performance at the free-throw line. In describing his two-handed dunk which helped stave off Stony Brook, Len gave perhaps the simplest answer possible.
“Yeah, I was angry,” he said. “Then when I saw it bounce back, I was happy.”
Since Len can’t go back home to Ukraine for the holidays, he said he’d be mostly hanging around College Park and working out over the upcoming break, though he’d celebrate Christmas with either the Auslanders or the Fausts.
>> Stony Brook freshman Jameel Warney was pretty impressive, notching a team-high 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting. He was no match for Len on the defensive end, but used his size and speed to get by Maryland’s 7-foot-1 center a few times in the paint for easy layups.
“He’s a freshman and you can tell, but he’s good,” Stony Brook Coach Steve Pikiell said. “He’s a good player and Iw as pleased with the way he battled against those guys in the post.”
Senior Tommy Brenton, the reigning America East defensive player of the year and a River Hill High School graduate, put up about as efficient and well-rounded a line as possible: Nine points, eight rebounds, nine assists zero turnovers.
>> Looks like Jake Layman, at least for the time being, is the odd-man out in Maryland’s rotation. He played just four minutes against Stony Brook, missed a three-pointer and grabbing two defensive rebounds. He didn’t commit a turnover, which was a good sign, but Layman didn’t play at all in the second half. Seems that Turgeon will need to see a little more consistency in order to justify playing him for extended spurts during ACC games. These last two non-conference matchups against Delaware State and IUPUI could be a big opportunity for the freshman forward.
>> Junior forward John Auslander, who suffered a fractured tibia during practice last week, had his season-ending surgery on Friday and sat right behind Maryland’s bench for the game. According to Turgeon, the surgery went smoothly and Auslander has a 12-week recover period ahead of him.
>> Radio broadcaster Johnny Holliday missed the game with some flu-like symptoms. Kevin Sheehan handled the play-by-play for the Terrapin Sports Radio Network in his stead.