The Maryland Terrapins opened the New Year looking to build on their impressive end to 2012. The Terps ended the year on an 11-game winning streak, after losing the season opener to Kentucky. Maryland took the court Tuesday afternoon for their last non-conference game of the season.
The Terps (12-1) overcame an early deficit to defeat the IUPUI Jaguars (6-12) 81-63. Maryland extended their win streak to 12 games: their longest streak since winning 13 in a row in 2002.
Comcast Center's smallest crowd of the year (8,971) watched the Terps starters struggle early on, as they fell behind 14-3. The team's depth then took center stage in the Comcast Center to bring the team back and put them ahead for good.
Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon credited the slow start to the Terps just not being ready.
We weren't ready to play, they were, said Coach Turgeon after the game. They came off a game where they didn't play well. They really played well today. They shot the ball well. That's what I'm probably most disappointed in, we just didn't defend the way we're capable of defending.
After allowing IUPUI to shoot 51.9% from the field in the first half, Maryland held the Jaguars to just 37% shooting in the second half. IUPUI was still able to shoot 44.4% from the field, which is the highest percentage a Maryland opponent has shot from the field all season long (previous high was 42.9% vs. Kentucky).
The biggest story from the game was the Terps overpowering depth. Maryland bench not only provided a spark for the team early on, but actually carried the team to a win. The Terps bench outscored their own starters 43-38.
I'm really pleased with our depth. A lot of guys down 14-3 would be afraid to put in a bunch of freshmen, Turgeon said. We just put them in and they did great. Our depth is going to help us. It's nice when you can say, 'We are going to do this to start the second half,' and one guy doesn't do it, you can just take him out because you have guys to do it.
Our depth is definitely something we pride ourselves on, said Dez Wells, who led the starters with 9 points. How deep we are as a team, how many players and weapons we have on our team. So I feel like that's our biggest strength.
Coach Turgeon and the players are all excited to finally move onto conference play after playing, what many considered, an easy non-conference schedule.
I think we can be very dangerous, said Seth Allen, who had a team-high 13 points off the bench. Coming into ACC play, me and Pe'Shon Howard are always hitting up extra shots. It's hard because you have to guard Alex Len and James Padgett; we have so many options. I think we're ready.
I am eager for conference play because we have gotten better, Turgeon said. We have gotten a lot better the past three or four weeks. You saw Shaq Cleare today, that was his best game but he was practicing this way for almost a week now.
Shaquille Cleare scored all of his 8 points in the second half of Tuesday's game. Coach Turgeon thought it was Cleare's best game of the season because he played with a lot more confidence and physicality.
I just go in, practice and do the little things: wedging on the side, being physical, using my hips to box out, said Cleare, who also had 5 rebounds. Basically I just listen to Coach Turgeon because he isn't going to lead me wrong. They want me to be a great player, so whatever he tells me, that's what I'm going to do.
All ten of Maryland's regular players scored in the game. Eight of those players had at least 7 points. James Padgett, who didn't start the game, played well, scoring 8 points and pulling down 6 rebounds.
Maryland dominated IUPUI in bench scoring and points in the paint. Maryland's bench outscored IUPUI's bench 43-2. The Terps outscored IUPUI 38-16 in the paint.
Maryland's next game will be against Virginia Tech (9-4) Saturday at 2 p.m. Virginia Tech's Erick Green leads the ACC with 24.4 points per game.