Smith helps Maryland roll past Rutgers 77-63
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — In the midst of a four-game stretch with a game every three days, being able to display its depth came at the perfect time for Maryland.
Jalen Smith finished with 16 points and six rebounds, a nice follow-up to his game-winning layup against No. 24 Nebraska last time out, to lead Maryland past Rutgers 77-63 on Saturday afternoon at a sold-out RAC.
“We’re building depth,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “After we lost to Seton Hall, I just said ‘we got to build depth. We’re getting tired late in games. We got to build depth.’ We’ve done it and guys have played well.'”
Giving starters a much-needed break.
“It’s been great giving every player a rest,” Smith said. “Now we got our bench coming in and we know that we’re comfortable with that, so that helps us out.”
After Rutgers led 15-12, Maryland (12-3, 3-1 Big Ten Conference) would go on a 28-4 run in the final 8:55 of the first half to take a 40-19 lead into the break.
“I just kept telling the guys to get a shot up. We had a bad stretch where we turned the ball over way too many times,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “We are a good rebounding team, they are terrific at it, so we were even on the glass. Those turnovers and with a young team when the ball is not going in, they do not lock down and defend like they are supposed to and we need to fix that. We have moments where the turnovers and poor play on offense affects the other side of the ball, we had that during that stretch and we were never able to recover from that.”
Rutgers’ only hopes of a monumental comeback came when the Scarlet Knights (7-6, 0-3) started the second stanza on a 6-0 run, but the Terrapins answered and kept their lead above 15 until the waning moments of the game.
“We knew we were going to get Rutgers’ best shot, especially early” Turgeon said.
Rutgers was led by Montez Mathis, who had a career-high 11 points and eight rebounds despite early foul trouble.
Maryland is now 10-3 all-time against Rutgers including 7-0 in the Big Ten since both teams joined the conference in 2014-15. The last time Rutgers beat Maryland was 95-79 on Dec. 28, 1991 in the Fiesta Bowl Classic in Tucson, Ariz.
Both Rutgers and Maryland are two of the youngest teams in the country, according to KenPom.com. Rutgers ranks 307th with 1.22 years of experience, while Maryland ranks 349th out of 353 D-I programs.
“People are going to forget five of our top eight guys are freshmen,” Turgeon said. “It’s pretty amazing what these young guys are doing to be honest with you. These guys are talented.”
Maryland: Following an upset of No. 24 Nebraska with a conference road win should be enough for Maryland to start garnering votes in the Top 25. The Terrapins were ranked as high as No. 23 this season after a 7-1 start.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are still in search of their first conference win of the season, and if they don’t get it in their next game, their overall record will fall back down to .500.
Maryland: The Terrapins play at Minnesota on Tuesday.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights host No. 14 Ohio State on Wednesday.