The Teams: Georgia Southern Eagles (2-2) @ Maryland Terrapins (3-1)
The Time: 7 PM
The Location: Comcast Center, College Park, Maryland
Tonight Maryland men’s basketball hopes to extend their winning streak to four when they take on the the 2-2 Georgia Southern Eagles at home. The Terrapins last played against Lafayette, where they eked out an 83-74 victory in a game that could have gone sour very quickly. While the Terrapins never trailed, they could not pull away and provide the defensive stops necessary for a blowout.
In Georgia Southern, the Terrapins are going up against a team on a two game winning streak who recently blew out Kennesaw State but has been largely inconsistent overall. Perhaps that is because Georgia Southern lacks anyone over 6’9 on their roster, and their best scorer, Eric Ferguson, is hitting only 39% of his shots on the season. The 6’7 junior has been averaging 13.8 points and 8 rebounds over four games, but he isn’t their only weapon. The Eagles also have a 6’5 freshman guard, Cleon Roberts, who has been playing some pretty good basketball as well. Roberts is averaging 13.5 points per game, and has proven himself to be a three point specialist, hitting 53% of them on the year.
Will the Terrapins be up to the task of taking down the Eagles and their two game win streak?
Keys to the Game/Storylines
1.) Size does matter
The Terrapins are considerably bigger than the Eagles, and using that to their advantage would go a long way to securing a victory. Alex Len’s opponent is going to be a 6’7 forward, and that in and of itself is a complete joke. Len is likely going to face numerous double teams, but that won’t mean anything if he isn’t assertive in the paint. As the Terrapins leading scorer this season, all signs point to him dominating this team with a career game, but you never know what will happen until the game is played.
This could also be a coming out party for Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare in the scoring department. They aren’t going to face a lot of pressure up front from this small team, and if any of those forwards get into foul trouble early then this game could be very, very easy down low. Padgett is going to be a consistent presence game in and game out, but it would be nice to see Cleare or Mitchell really make a dent in the box score.
2.) Faust and Howard need to shoot better
When you look at Nick Faust from last year to this year, you have to ask the question: what has changed? In the first four games, the answer is “Not much.” Faust is plenty talented, but his shooting is wildly inconsistent and he has yet to get fully on track this season. He is fantastic at creating his own shot, but actually converting them has been tougher for him. Perhaps he would be better suited shooting fewer three pointers (he is 2-of-12 on the season) and attempting more makeable shots. So far this year, Faust has never made more than five shots, in spite of attempting the second most on the team.
As for Howard, he has been an exceptional floor general this season, but he has had a tougher time shooting than any Terrapin has this year. While he is averaging a career high in assists at 7.8 on the year, his scoring and shooting numbers are way, way down. Howard is shooting 23% on the season and averaging a meager 3 points per game. With the way he distributes the ball, it’s hard to keep him off the floor. And yet, with the way Seth Allen has been shooting and playing, Howard’s minutes may well diminish a bit. It would be nice to see a guy who is capable of hitting a few clutch three pointers a game actually do that and certify his spot as the top guard on the team.
The Terrapins are going to blow this team out, if I had to take a guess. Stingy defense and fantastic paint play guide Maryland to a 84-60 victory.