On a day where Alex Len and Dez Wells went a combined 5-16 from the field for a total of 13 points the Maryland Terrapins were able to cruise to 1 72-59 victory over the visiting Clemson Tigers on Saturday afternoon in a game the Terps had to have.
Maryland got off to a slow start as Devin Booker was enforcing his will upon the Terps on both ends of the floor. Booker knocked down his first three shots and, on the defensive end, pushed Alex Len so far off the block he was a non factor for Maryland on offense. The Booker family has been a thorn in the side of Maryland fans for the better part of a decade so this probably should have been expected out of Devin. Unfortunately for Clemson it wasn’t enough as the Terps pulled away in the second half and never looked back.
The big man on campus for the Terrapins this afternoon was Nick Faust who had a season high of 18 points on an extremely efficient 7-10 from the field (including 4-7 from three point range). Faust got the starting nod from Mark Turgeon and responded in a major way leading Maryland on the afternoon in scoring, three pointers made and steals. It was easily the best game of the year for the sophomore guard from Baltimore, MD and it could not have come at a better time for the Terps who needed a comfortable win after the debacle at Boston College earlier in the week.
Jake Layman and Shaq Cleare came up with big days as well for Maryland as they were the only other Terrapins to break double digits scoring as Layman had 12 and Cleare finished with 10. However, the storyline outside of Faust’s dominance will be focused much more so on the struggles of Alex Len rather than the successes of the two freshmen.
Len finished with nine points and eight rebounds on 4-10 shooting but those numbers don’t tell the story as Len only had one made FG in the first half and his final two baskets came with the game seemingly in hand as the Terps were up double digits. It was a rough game for Len today as Devin Booker clearly took him out of his comfort zone when Maryland was on offense.
Mark Turgeon said in jest after the game that they need to tell him he is going against Plumlee every game but Len was, for the most part, a non-factor in the game this afternoon. Booker was forcing Len so far off of the block that any entry pass to the Terps big man was being received so far away from the basket that all Len could do was kick it back out to a guard on the wing.
Booker got the better of Len on the offensive end as well. Len would not take away the ability for Booker to go to his left and it allowed him to have the types of looks he wants from the field as well as nine trips to the foul line. This total ineffectiveness led to Len having a seat on the Maryland bench for stretches in the second half as the Terps stretched their three point halftime lead to double digits. Len’s body language from the bench while watching his teammates make a run was less than ideal but that is to somewhat expected and did not last.
Benching Len for a while in the second half was clearly the right thing to do as Maryland was able to get out to the double digit lead they carried to the finish line. You have to try and get Len involved early and often in both halves but if he is getting pushed off the block and, in turn, not able to establish strong post position he is not helping the Terps on offense. I don’t envision any further issues with Len and, ideally, this semi-benching will light a bit of a fire under the Ukrainian big man as the Terps look ahead to a date with the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech next Wednesday evening in Atlanta, Georgia.