December 19, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Delaware State Hornets guard Albert Thomas (bottom) and Pittsburgh Panthers forward Lamar Patterson (21) react to a loose ball during the second half at the Petersen Events Center. The Pittsburgh Panthers won 71-43. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland Basketball VS Delaware State Preview

The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (10-1) vs Delaware State Hornets (5-7)

The Time: Saturday, Dec. 29th – 12:30 PM ET

The Location: Comcast Center. College Park, Md.

TV, Radio: ESPN3, 105.7

The Backstory: The Maryland Terrapins are hoping to finish off 2012 with a win streak that spans ten games as they take on the Delaware State Hornets in their final game of the year. Despite squandering a 20-point lead, Maryland still managed to hold off Stony Brook last game to continue their victory stretch at home. Thanks to the play of Dez Wells and Alex Len, the Terrapins might still be a one-loss team heading into ACC play. Delaware State looks to be the first of two tune-up matches before the Terrapins take on Virginia Tech at home on January 5th.

Why is Delaware State considered a tune-up match? Well, in particular because they’re 5-7 on the season with losses to Penn State, Fairleigh Dickinson, and a 19 point drubbing by a Northwestern team that Maryland blew out by virtually the same margin. Or it could be the fact that they only have one player scoring in double figures (sophomore guard Tahj Tate, at 15 PPG). Or the fact that none of their players average over 5 rebounds a game. Put all that together, and you get a tune up match, folks.

Keys to the game:

1.) Stop Tahj Tate from scoring

Say one thing about Delaware State’s team: when they do win, it’s because Tajh Tate has dismantled his opponent thoroughly. Tate is a guy who usually “gets his,” and after watching one of Delaware State’s games, I can tell you that he’s going to be a handful for Pe’Shon Howard and Nick Faust to guard. Tate isn’t the most gifted passer in the world, but he can get to his spots, make jumpers, and create offense very quickly.

Tate ate up Northwestern for 23 points, and also dropped 24 on both UMES and Delware, meaning that he can do it against anyone. If the Terrapins allow him to slash his way to the basket and fail to hone in on him, then I can see Delaware State hanging in this ball game…for the first half, at least.

2.) Defend the interior

The Terrapins got pounded by Stony Brook inside during their last outing, and I certainly hope that issue was addressed during the break.While Delaware State doesn’t have a whole bunch of talent down low, they do have a decent amount of size and athleticism. The problem for them is putting it to good use, which they don’t do that often. However, if the Terrapins play down low like they did against Stony Brook, I can’t imagine Delaware State having a tough go of things scoring. Tate is going to get his points, and if someone else steps up then we’re going to have a ball game.

Prediction: The Terrapins win this one by 20, barring an apocalyptic meltdown and a 50 point outing by DSU’s Tate.

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