COLLEGE PARK — Following a defensive game plan does wonders for a college basketball team, as Maryland finally figured out in a 70-56 win Tuesday.
Much of Mark Turgeon’s pregame scouting report centered around stopping high-scoring North Carolina Central guard Jeremy Ingram. Trying to become the latest guard to light up the Terps and lead his team to a nonconference road win, Ingram found himself double-teamed at Comcast Center.
Wing Dez Wells got the first crack at Ingram, who came in as the nation’s third-leading scorer (24.6 points per game) after a 37-point performance at Wichita State.
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Guard Nick Faust (City) followed.
They didn’t limit Ingram’s shots, but they certainly made them tough.
The 6-foot-3 Eagles senior also helped Maryland by taking a few questionable heaves himself, which contributed to a 4-for-19 shooting afternoon in a season-low 11-point performance, more than 13 below his average.
Faust, who played his best all-around game (19 points, nine rebounds) in his Maryland career, said Turgeon “emphasized a lot on locking in on their leading scorer and doing what we can to alter shots and defend him really well and slow him down."
The 6-6 junior from Baltimore was supposed to be Maryland's lockdown perimeter defender this season, but he admittedly had difficulty playing that role while he struggled offensively.
"Recent guys have been coming in and averaging the number they’ve been coming in with," Faust said of a parade of scorers who came in and actually scored above — some way above — their season average. "We just tried to force him to take [tough] shots.”
This was not going to be a repeat of what Oregon State’s Roberto Nelson did (31 points) last month in helping hand Maryland its first nonconference home loss.
This was not going to be what George Washington’s Maurice Creek did (25 points, including the game-winner at the buzzer) earlier this month at the BB&T Classic inside Verizon Center.
This was not going to be what Boston University’s D.J. Irving did (25 points) more recently in leading the Terriers to a road win over the Terps.
“I thought Dez and Nick were really committed to guarding that kid,” Turgeon said after Tuesday's.
It probably helped that Wells was inspired playing against Ingram.
The two last played against each other in a holiday tournament in Charlotte, N.C., when Wells was a junior in high school and Ingram a senior. Wells said his team won in a blowout.
“He scored 30 points on me. That’s probably why you saw a little more [defensive effort],” Wells said. “I’ll never forget stuff like that. I can’t forget stuff like that.”
Ingram didn’t credit Wells or anyone else in a Maryland uniform.
“Just missing shots, that’s all. Same looks I always get, but I knock ‘em down,” Ingram said. “I’m shooting a lot of shots, so I have to be the one to make ‘em. If I don’t make ‘em, my teammates could have easily had those shots.”
North Carolina Central coach LeVelle Moton gave the Terps credit, but also said Ingram missed a bunch of shots he normally makes.
“I thought they did a great job getting a hand up in Jeremy’s face,” Moton said. "I don’t want to discredit them. When a guy misses shots, you’ve got to give the other team credit. But I’ve also seen Jeremy make a lot of shots, too. When he misses free throws, it’s not their defense. That’s on him.”