After a solid month of playing mid-major teams from around the country the Maryland Terrapins could probably be excused for sleep walking through their New Year’s Day matinee against the IUPUI Jaguars at Comcast Center today.
The end result was a to-be-expected 81-63 rout of the visitors. While the Terps took a circuitous route to getting the win, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon pronounced his team ready for ACC play.
That’s a good thing because league play begins this Saturday against Virginia Tech.
While much of the media has focused on the rotation of players that Turgeon may or may not employ with the conference season upon us, the coach himself has focused on the benefits of Maryland’s unparalleled depth and the answers he seems to have for every situation as a result.
With IUPUI red-hot out of the gates and off to a 14-3 lead barely six minutes into the game Turgeon had already tired of his team’s effort defensively and went to the bench for answers. He ended up getting exactly what he wanted – and then some.
Freshman guard Seth Allen may have been inserted initially for defensive purposes but he nailed back to back three pointers and the Terps- and the crowd in attendance- seemed to come to life.
The Jaguars continued to shoot the lights out of Comcast for a few more minutes and eventually held a 19-9 lead with 12 minutes left in the first half. After what happened over the next 6 minutes, IUPUI was probably left wishing that they had literally shot the lights out of Comcast.
Maryland reserves went on a quick 11-0 run to hand the lead back to the Terp’s starting five and they immediately went on a 9-3 run of their own. That 20-3 run over a seven minute span effectively decided the game and allow Maryland the chance to try and do some fine tuning heading into conference play.
There was plenty to be concerned with, to be sure. IUPUI had struggled to score in many of their previous outings but shot the ball extremely well for the first thirty minutes before fatigue took over and they wilted against Maryland’s depth. For the game they ended up a solid 24-54 (45%), the best an opponent has shot against the Terps this season.
The Terps also committed 14 turnovers against a team that rarely pressured them. Many of them could be categorized as “unforced errors” that Turgeon quickly alluded to after the game. He also countered that quickly by saying how much he loved how his team shared the ball and pointed to the 16 assists his club had.
When he was asked about Virginia Tech just after the game, Turgeon was quick to say that he had completely focused on IUPUI in advance of this contest and that preparation for the Hokies would be coming over the course of the next few days.
That may be true – to a degree. Turgeon is an extraordinarily superstitious coach and he knows enough not to offend the basketball Gods by preparing for one opponent five days away when you have a game against another opponent tomorrow. That said, there can be little doubt that his assistants have probably watched enough tape of Virginia Tech to run a Hokie practice themselves. You can be certain that Turgeon left College Park with a scouting report and plenty of game tape to watch tonight when he gets home.
Virginia Tech had started the season as one of the real surprises in the league and they reeled of seven consecutive wins. Since that point they have lost four of six games, including blowout losses against Colorado State and Brigham Young. They are led by perhaps the ACC’s most NBA-ready player in point guard Erick Green, who is averaging a league best 24.4 points per game. For the Terps the job defensively will begin with containing Green.
As the nearly 9,000 in attendance strolled into the College Park night there had to be some consensus among them that – for all intents and purposes- the JV games are over.
Now it’s time to bring on the Varsity.