Maryland Basketball: Terps face hot-shooting Richmond in Barclays Center Classic

The Maryland basketball team will travel to a familiar venue on Friday evening.

The Terrapins are set to host Richmond in the Barclays Center Classic. It’ll be Maryland’s third trip to New York City in the past five seasons.

Maryland faced Kentucky in the 2012 Barclays Center Classic and Connecticut in the 2015 Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. The Terps fell to Kentucky, but did manage to beat UConn last December.

The Terps are coming off one of their most complete performances of the season. Maryland topped Stony Brook 77-63 and got contributions from a variety of different players.

Once again, Melo Trimble led the way with 21 points for the Terps. Trimble has been absolutely sensational through the early portion of the season.

Trimble has seemed like his old self as he’s averaging 9.2 attempted free throws. He’s also averaging a career-high 19.8 points and 44.8 percent from the floor.

One of the biggest positives from Maryland’s win over Stony Brook was the bench production.

Dion Wiley, who missed the Towson game with a stomach virus, easily had his strongest performance of the season. The former Potomac (Md.) standout scored 13 points and made four of five attempts from beyond the arc.

Coach Mark Turgeon praised Wiley for his exceptional talent and said that Wiley is a starter that just isn’t starting. He didn’t rule out that the redshirt sophomore will be a start at some point this season.

Big man Michal Cekovsky also returned against the Seawolves and was a huge boost to the Maryland frontcourt. It couldn’t have come at a better time since Damonte Dodd suffered a concussion and didn’t play in Tuesday’s game.

Cekovsky did foul out in just 16 minutes, but looked spectacular on the offensive end. The Slovakian native scored 11 points (5-of-7 shooting) and added a block.

With Maryland’s frontcourt being inconsistent during the early part of the season, Cekovsky playing at a high level would be a huge boost going forward.

Keys to the game

1.) Guard the perimeter – Richmond’s biggest strength is their ability to hit shots from beyond the arc. The Spiders are currently converting 35.4 percent of their three-point shots. There’s three players on the roster that make at least 45 percent of their long-range attempts. Maryland certainly has quite a bit of athleticism and length in Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, and Justin Jackson. If they can use that to their advantage and limit the amount of threes, the Terps can definitely add this win to their resume.

2.) Rebounds, Rebounds, Rebounds – This has been one of the bigger issues for Maryland this season. The Terps were outrebounded 38-35, including surrendering 12 offensive boards against Stony Brook. Obviously, not having Dodd played a factor, but the Terps still have the athleticism to control the glass. The rebounding department needs attention going forward and a strong performance against the Spiders would be a great start.

3.) Continue to get guard production – It’s clear that the Terps are going to need to get great guard production if they want to make an NCAA Tournament run. Trimble is playing some of the best basketball of his career and maybe some of the best in the country. Getting more of a boost from Jared Nickens and Wiley is something that’s going to need to be a regular occurrence. Nickens is struggling more than any Terp and that is something that Turgeon can’t have.

Player to watch

ShawnDre’ Jones (guard) – Jones is one of the more talented guards in the Atlantic 10. He is extremely tough and has absolutely no fear when driving to the basket. The Houston native is also a strong finisher and has the ability to shoot from beyond the arc. He’s currently shooting 53.3 percent from three. Jones plays the Trimble role for Richmond and Maryland is definitely going to have to attempt to suffocate Jones when he has the basketball.

T.J. Cline (forward) – Cline and Jones are about as good of a one-two punch as you’ll find in the Atlantic 10. Cline does a little bit of everything for the Spiders as he’s averaging 17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. The former Niagara forward is also a 36.5 percent from beyond the arc, which is one of the biggest strengths for Richmond.

Prediction

Aside from Georgetown, this is the biggest test that Maryland has had so far this season. It’s an opportunity to face an offense juggernaut that could make some noise in the Atlantic 10.

If Maryland can limit Richmond’s prowess from three, the Terps can definitely advanced to the title game against the winner of Boston College/Kansas State. Maryland has the length to defend the Spiders, so the Terps win this one 70-61.

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