Maryland Basketball: Terps welcome Jacksonville State to College Park

The Maryland football team started fast, but had to earn a narrow win over Saint Peter’s on Saturday.

After a unconvincing victory, the Terrapins welcome a program that coach Mark Turgeon knows very well to College Park.

Jacksonville State travels to the Xfinity Center on Monday for Maryland’s second-to-last nonconference tune-up. The Gamecocks were the first heading coaching job that Turgeon had after spending several years as an assistant.

Turgeon accumulated a 25-29 (15-19) record in two seasons at the school. After that period, the Maryland coach accepted the head coaching position at Wichita State, where he remained for the following seven seasons.

Turgeon’s group put together a phenomenal first half against Saint Peter’s this past weekend. However, it took everything the Terps had to wrap up the contest with a win.

Maryland held a 40-18 lead at halftime, but were outscored 38-26 in the second stanza. The Terps only ended up winning the contest by a 66-56 final.

The Terps did get two strong performances from two of their impressive freshmen.

Forward Justin Jackson scored a game-high 19 points (6-of-8) and grabbed five rebounds. Guard Kevin Huerter connected on three of his six attempts from beyond the arc and ended up adding 14 points (5-of-8).

Aside from a double-double performance against Richmond, this was Huerter’s best outing as a Terp. He shot the ball well from the perimeter and also was effective on the glass.

Maryland shot the ball from three at a reasonable 38.9 percent clip. Five different Terps made at least one shot from long-range on the afternoon.

Keys to the game

1.) Hold onto the lead – This was certainly the biggest issue for The Terps against the Peacocks. Maryland jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the first eight minutes and led by 22 points at the break. The Terps shot 68.4 from the field in the first half. However, Saint Peter’s was able to close out the game on a 16-5 run and made it a contest again. That type of situation can’t happen against Jacksonville State. Maryland needs to keep their foot on the gas and gain a blowout victory before Big Ten play begins.

2.) Use size inside – Aside from Norbertas Giga, the Gamecocks don’t possess a player over 6’8 on their roster. Even without Damonte Dodd, Maryland has the size to bully Jacksonville State inside, much like they did against Saint Peter’s. The Peacocks did have a 22-20 advantage in terms of points in the paint. Ivan Bender and Michal Cekovsky are going to play a big role in trying to gain the upper hand over Giga and the rest of the Gamecock frontcourt.

3.) Continue to score from the perimeter – Maryland did a solid job shooting the three, especially in the first half against Saint Peter’s. The Terps connected on five of their first eight shots from downtown before shooting just 20 percent (2-of-10) in the second half. Melo Trimble wasn’t a huge factor in the game as he scored just five points. The Terps are going to need more production from the perimeter to put this game out of reach early on. This would be a good game for Trimble to bounce back and have one of his stellar performances.

Players to watch

Norbertas Giga (forward) – Giga may be 6’10, but this is a guy that has some range. The Lithuanian native can step out and shoot the basketball if he has to. However, he’s even more efficient down low as he averages 12.2 points and 9.0 rebounds for the Gamecocks. Giga is easily the most effective post player that Jacksonville State has and will be the main challenge for the likes of Bender and Cekovsky on the interior.

Erik Durham (guard) – Durham leads Jacksonville State in scoring (12.4 points) and can do a little bit of everything. He possesses great quickness that allows him to drive to the basket with ease. As dangerous as he is as a driver, he is also a phenomenal spot-up shooter. On the season, Durham is shooting a team-high 54.4 percent from beyond the arc. This is the guy that the Terps will need to key on at all times.

Malcolm Drumwright (guard) – Drumwright is one of three scorers that average double figures for the Gamecocks. He averages 11.2 points and shoots 45.5 from beyond the arc. He does turn the ball over quite a bit (3.3 per contest), but is lethal from outside when given any amount of room to shoot. Durham is a guy that slashes his way towards the basket and Drumwright provides help from the perimeter. This is a very dangerous combination if they’re both at the top of their game.

Prediction

Jacksonville State has definitely proved to be a very inconsistent team. They started out the year 1-3 before going on a four-game winning streak and now they’ve lost their last two contests. Their most impressive victory has to be an 84-73 decision against Tulsa in the season opener.

On the other hand, they were also dominated in a 19-pount rout by TCU. The Horned Frogs are off to a 9-1 start, so they’re definitely a solid squad. However, the Gamecocks really haven’t beaten anyone and aren’t the biggest team in the world. I’ll say Maryland takes control early, but may have to grind this one out similar to the Saint Peter’s game. Terps win 70-58 at home.

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