Who: Maryland (11-7, 3-2) at North Carolina State Wolfpack (11-7, 1-4)
When: 9 p.m.
Where: PNC Arena
Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Mark Turgeon (third season, 53-35) & Mark Gottfried (third season, 59-31)
The Backstory: After being embarrassed by Florida State and Pittsburgh, Maryland got back on track with a 74-66 win at home against Notre Dame. The Terps started off the first half strong, but were burned by Fighting Irish guard/forward Pat Connaughton and his 15 first half points. However, Maryland was able to put together a stellar defensive effort in the second half and come away with their third win of the ACC schedule.
One of the keys to the Terps resurgence in the second stanza was the play of guard Dez Wells. Wells, who scored all 17 of his points after halftime, was able to take control and get to the rim at will. Notre Dame was over the team foul limit for the final 10 minutes of the game and Maryland attacked that weakness with absolute tenacity. Fellow guard Seth Allen got his first start of the season and had a pretty successful evening. Allen netted 14 points (5-of-13 shooting) while grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists. The Virginia native was the only Terp other than guard Nick Faust, to hit multiple threes as he connected on three long-range shots. While many Terps were tossing up shots from beyond the arc and not trying to break down Notre Dame’s zone defense, Allen attacked and got to the rim of several occasions.
Keys To The Game:
1.) Contain T.J. Warren – It’s certainly not an easy task, given that Warren is the ACC’s leading scorer (22.2 points-per-game). Warren is the type of player that can score from anywhere. He can drive to the rim and hit any jumper from beyond the arc. Even in NC State’s 35-point loss to Duke on Saturday, Warren still got his and scored 23 points to go along with eight rebounds. Being Maryland’s best defender, Faust will have to be on top of his game if he wants to slow down one of the conference’s premier players.
2.) Production from the Maryland bigs – It’s been the issue all season long for Turgeon and company. There were some encouraging signs in the Terps last game with center Shaquille Cleare being a steady force inside. While he only registered seven points and two rebounds, he played solid post defense and converted a few pretty shots around the basket. Obviously, the likes of Cleare, forward Charles Mitchell, and forward Evan Smotrycz will be their hands full with the Wolfpack’s Australian center Jordan Vandenberg.
3.) Will the real Jake Layman please stand up? – Despite being Maryland’s second leading scorer, Layman has struggled during ACC play thus far. The Massachusetts sharpshooter is only averaging 8.2 points-per-game and is shooting 26.3 (4-of-19) percent from beyond the arc. His shot hasn’t been falling at the rate many are used to. When his shot isn’t falling, he hasn’t been putting the ball on the floor, which he definitely is capable of doing. Layman has the athleticism to find other ways of scoring and has to harness those in order for the Terps to be effective down the stretch.