The Maryland Terrapins could not buy a bucket from beyond the arc Wednesday night as they fell to the North Carolina Tar Heels 79-68 in a game the Terps desperately needed to have. Maryland took 23 shots from beyond the arc against UNC and made three of them, good enough for a three point field goal percentage of 13% for the Terps. When you combine that type of shooting performance with fourteen turnovers like Maryland did Wednesday night you will be hard pressed to win many games against teams the caliber of North Carolina.
The Tar Heels were led once again by PJ Hairston and Reggie Bullock as the pair combined for 41 points on 13/23 from the floor. Maryland had no real answer for the pair from the opening tip tonight as they largely did what they wanted with little resistance from the Terrapins defense. North Carolina pulled away at the end of the first half on what stretched into the second half as a 20-4 run for the Tar Heels, Maryland was able to cut it to six but never got closer than two possessions away from the UNC lead.
Were it not for the efforts of Dez Wells and Nick Faust, who led the Terrapins with 18 and 16 points respectively, Maryland could have been run off their own floor on senior night. Faust came off the bench firing on all cylinders tonight as Logan Aronhalt received the start. Both Faust and Wells were paramount in keeping the Terrapins somewhat within striking distance for the bulk of the second half, were it not for their scoring efforts tonight things could have gotten ugly fast.
I mentioned the anemic effort from the Terps from beyond the arc tonight already which overshadowed what was a strong showing on shots attempted inside the arc where Maryland fared much better shooting 24/40 on the night. Alex Len and James Padgett got off to quick starts as each went 3/4 in the first half but only attempted six shots combined in the second half connecting on two of those opportunities. In a game where Maryland held a distinct size advantage, much like they did against UVA, they were not able to take advantage and were subsequently taken out of their game and forced to play down to the stature of their opponent.
However, Len did not make it easy for his teammates to get him looks. Far too often when Len was able to receive a post feed he was catching it so far off of the block that he was not a true threat to score. Once the double team came Len was forced to kick it back out to the wing but the Ukrainian big man was never able to re-post his man and receive another post feed. This is honestly something I have seen out of Len far too many times this season, he fancies himself too much of a finesse player to get down and dirty in the post to be the type of overpowering big man many Terps fans wish he would be.
In the big scheme of things this was a loss that the Maryland Terrapins could not afford to take. Getting to 10 wins in the ACC would have gone a long way towards helping them potentially get over the hill and into the NCAA Tournament. After tonight, however, it will almost surely take a run through to the ACC Tournament title for these Terps to go to the big dance every college basketball player dreams of.
For the seniors on this team in James Padgett and Logan Aronhalt this line of thinking will not be appreciated much but these Terrapins will get the chance to play in a postseason tournament (more than likely the NIT) and continue to grow as a team. It isn’t an excuse but when a team relies on freshmen and sophomores that aren’t the “one and done” variety of recruits there will be growing pains.
The fact of the matter is that the weak non-conference schedule that Mark Turgeon put together before knowing what he had in this freshman class as well as having Dez Wells available to play did not help this group get ready for the rigors of conference play. This team will continue to grow and gel over the remainder of this season and, although no one wants to hear it at the moment, the future looks to be bright for the Terps.