COLLEGE PARK — A single possession summed up the Maryland basketball team's 89-62 victory Friday over Morgan State.
It happened late in the first half at Comcast Center, with the Terps already comfortably ahead by a dozen points. A steal by junior guard Nick Faust (City) gave the ball back to the Terps, who moved it quickly upcourt in a matter of seconds.
The ball went to Faust on the left wing, then to sophomore forward Charles Mitchell in the lane, and finally, to a wide-open Jake Layman near the top of the key. The sophomore forward buried the shot — one of a career-high seven 3-pointers he made in a career-high 27-point performance.
The assist by Mitchell was one of 15 the Terps had on their first 16 baskets, and one of a season-high 26 Maryland (5-2) had on its 33 total field goals. The 89 points Maryland scored were also a season high, as was the margin of victory (27 points) and field goal percentage (62.3).
While Layman didn't remember the pass-happy possession, he said afterward that he thinks wide-open shots are “something that we know is going to be there for this team. Sometimes we get too crazy and take some wild shots, but when we're making the extra pass and we're hitting the open shot, it works out well for us.”
Said coach Mark Turgeon: “We made shots, and we didn't have to play as much one-on-one out there. When we drove it, they came to help, so you had to make a pass. That was kind of their game plan: Don't let Dez [Wells] drive. We kept making shots.”
Layman's 9-for-12 performance from the field certainly stood out, but he wasn't the only efficient shooter. Junior forward Evan Smotrycz scored 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including four of six 3-pointers. The Terps, who had yet to shoot over 50 percent in a game this season, were 33-for-53 overall, including 13-for-20 beyond the arc.
“We talked about that, getting the best shot for our team. Shot selection had to be better for us, and for the most part, we took a lot of good shots,” Turgeon said after his team's fourth straight victory. “It was good to see.”
Said Smotrycz: “I think just from the start, guys were really looking for the extra [pass], and it carried over. It's a fun way to play. Guys are looking for teammates. We can draw the defender, beat our guy and make the extra pass.”
Turgeon this week was concerned about a possible letdown after the Terps won the Paradise Jam with a down-to-the-wire 56-52 victory over Providence early Tuesday morning in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but Maryland came out sharp Friday.
After Morgan State's 7-foot-2 Ian Chiles scored two early baskets for an early 5-3 Bears lead, the Terps ran off 11 straight points and were never really threatened. Leading by 14 at halftime, 45-31, the closest the Bears got after halftime was 12.
Chiles, coming off a career-high 25-point, seven-blocked-shot performance Monday against Marist in the Bears' first win of the season, led Morgan State (1-7) with 17 points and six rebounds.
“To begin with, Maryland played really well,” Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said. “They shot the lights out of the ball. We knew Layman was a shooter, but he really shot the ball well. I have to tip my hat to Turgeon for having his team ready.”
In winning easily before an announced crowd of 9,517, Maryland avenged a stunning one-point loss to Morgan State five years ago. Smotrycz said the bigger-than-expected Black Friday crowd helped the Terps adjust mentally to playing on the mainland again.
“I think there were a lot more than I thought there would be after the way we played against Oregon State [in a 90-83 loss on Nov. 17], and I think that helped a little bit,” said Smotrycz, whose 12 rebounds gave him his second straight double double.
Eventually, as the lead grew to over 20, Maryland seemed to lose focus. Players opted for highlight-reel dunks rather than heady passes. The Bears got as close as 72-60 before the Terps again broke it open.
Though Turgeon was happy to talk about the game's positives, he couldn't ignore some of the negative trends that continued into Friday's win, particularly with the Terps going to play their first big road game Wednesday at No. 7 Ohio State.
“I don't think we were extremely sharp, as far as concentration goes,” Turgeon said. “I think we shot the ball really well. We have good players. They pressured us, we were able to drive on them. I think you saw it more in our defense and our rebounding — our concentration wasn't there. I thought [in] the second half we played a lot better.”
Most troubling is Maryland's continued free-throw woes, with a 10-for-22 showing bringing down an already poor 63.9 percentage that ranked 281st in the country coming into the game. Also worrying were the Terps' 12 second-half turnovers.
“The wrong guys are getting fouled. They've they've got to step up and make it,” Turgeon said. “We had way too many turnovers tonight. We did such a good job in the Paradise Jam of taking care of the ball. To me, it's focus and concentration. But give them credit: Morgan State plays really hard.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun