Maryland men’s basketball had a memorable day Nov. 27, following energizing roster news in the early afternoon by picking up a resounding 82-52 win against Navy to improve to 2-0 this season.
The game played out similarly to the season opener against Old Dominion, as Maryland took control of the game late in the first half and pulled away early in the second half. This time, though, the Terps continued to stretch their lead in the second half, ultimately coming away with a dominant 30-point victory.
Maryland connected on 30 of 44 field goal attempts (68.2 percent) and 8 of 15 three-pointers (53.3 percent), continuing a strong shooting start to the season. While 15 turnovers held the offense back, the Terps once again operated smoothly on both ends of the floor.
“They gave us everything they had for 20 minutes, and then we really got it going in the second half,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said.
Darryl Morsell put his stamp on the game in a hurry, scoring nine of Maryland’s first 15 points. He finished the afternoon with 15 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting, also chipping in five rebounds and four assists in just 26 minutes. Galin Smith scored eight of his 12 points in the first half — the senior center also shot 6-of-6 — while Eric Ayala scored 11 of his 15 and Aaron Wiggins scored all of his 14 in the second half. Hakim Hart joined the double-digit party late, finishing with 11 points.
Maryland committed 10 first-half turnovers to help keep Navy in the game despite shooting 12-of-20 from the field. The teams went back and forth early, and the Midshipmen led as late as 18-17, but a 10-0 Maryland run gave the Terps a 30-20 lead. They took a 32-25 advantage into the locker room thanks to Morsell and Smith shooting 4-of-4 each from the field.
Ayala led the charge to start the second half, scoring six points as part of a 10-3 run to open the frame. Wiggins broke out later in the period, going on a personal 8-0 run to extend Maryland’s lead to 55-36 with 10:14 remaining. The Terps kept their foot on the gas down the stretch, extending the lead as far as 32 points before winning by 30. Maryland shot 18-of-24 (75 percent) and outscored Navy 50-27 in the period.
Turgeon showed a glimpse of what a thinned Terps rotation might look like in the first half, as only six players logged more than six minutes. Donta Scott started at power forward in place of Jairus Hamilton, but Hamilton played 10 minutes off the bench and even saw time as a small-ball center. Hart broke out in the second half, logging 14 of his 18 minutes and scoring eight of his 11 points after intermission.
Hamilton contributed six points and five rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. Turgeon was also higher on backup center Chol Marial following this game than the first. It’s just a two-game sample size against a pair of mid-majors, but Maryland’s depth and chemistry both look promising.
“It’s really great playing with this team. … We all get happiness from anybody scoring,” Morsell said. “Marcus [Dockery] scored in the last 30 seconds; the whole bench went crazy. Hakim was hitting shots in the second half, whole bench going crazy. So I think we all enjoy having team success and enjoy each other’s individual success.”
Maryland hosts Mount St. Mary’s at 2 p.m. ET Sunday, Nov. 29, but has a new opponent to start next week.
Shortly before Maryland tipped off in its opener Nov. 25, Monmouth, the Terps’ scheduled Dec. 1 opponent, announced it was entering quarantine after a positive test within the Hawks’ program, thus canceling the matchup with Maryland. One day later, the Terps announced they had added Towson to the schedule in Monmouth’s place.
Towson has faced stiff competition so far this season — the Tigers lost 89-54 to Virginia and 79-68 to San Francisco in the last two days, dropping them from 202nd to 220th in KenPom’s predictive rankings. Towson is down several key pieces from last year’s 19-13 campaign, but could still be a factor in the CAA after taking its lumps in the nonconference slate. This will be the first meeting between these programs since 2016.
Later next week, Maryland hosts George Mason, who’s 1-1 as of this writing with a narrow win over Division II power Queens and a 10-point loss to Belmont. The Terps’ schedule ramps up in difficulty Dec. 9 with a visit to Clemson, which already has a notable 82-71 win against Purdue.
Maryland will add a blue-chip freshman to its roster midseason.
James Graham III, a four-star small forward who had already signed on as part of Maryland’s 2021 recruiting class, announced his intentions to graduate high school in December and enroll in college immediately. He’ll likely jump right into the Terps’ rotation when he becomes eligible to play.
Graham, listed at 6-foot-8 and 205 pounds, is the No. 100 overall prospect in the Class of 2021, according to 247Sports Composite rankings. His shooting stroke is the most highly-regarded part of his skill set right now, and his length makes him a versatile option at both ends of the floor. It’s unlikely he starts right away, but there are definitely minutes available for him. Perhaps he joins Hart as a second-unit wing, pushing former walk-on guard Reese Mona out of the primary rotation.
The Milwaukee, Wis., native will be eligible to join the Terps after passing all university health protocols. According to InsideMdSports’ Jeff Ermann, Graham is expected to join the program Dec. 29 after spending Christmas with his family, and a 14-day quarantine would make him available to play starting in mid-January. Because the NCAA is not counting this season against players’ eligibility, Graham will still be able to play four full seasons starting in 2021-22.
“I can’t wait to get to College Park and experience a new team, new coaches and new challenges,” Graham said in Maryland’s press release. “I wanted to start early so I could maximize my abilities and get into the Maryland system. It’s all about competition for me.”
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics