At halftime Wednesday against Butler at Xfinity Center, Maryland held just a seven-point lead despite hitting 17 of 24 shots from the field. The reason? The Terps had been sloppy in committing 11 turnovers.
With an offense still adjusting to not having Melo Trimble run it while trying to incorporate two freshmen in the rotation, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Still, those who have followed the Terps have come to wonder why Mark Turgeon’s teams have consistently lost the turnover battle in his seven years as coach.
Going into Saturday’s game against Bucknell (0-3) in College Park, the Terps have committed at least 12 turnovers in each of their three victories, including a season-high 20 in a 79-65 win over the Bulldogs.
Turgeon said in a teleconference Friday with local reporters that he’s confident the Terps will clean up their act and take advantage of their more-than-respectable 55.8 percent shooting from the field.
“We talk about it all the time. We work on turnovers every day,” Turgeon said. “The moving screens, the offensive fouls — they’re all correctable. If you’re going to have a couple of them a game, I think we had four offensive fouls. Those [have] got to go.
“A lot of times our turnovers, we were trying to make the right plays. And that’s really all I can ask as long as we’re trying to do the right thing. We know we’ve got to work on that. We know we’re shooting a great percentage, defending and rebounding great.”
Turgeon said making between eight and 12 turnovers a game is a “good number” and 10 or fewer “is a great number.” It wasn’t just the number of turnovers the Terps committed against Butler, but who was responsible for nearly half of them.
Sophomores Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson combined for nine of their team’s turnovers. Huerter had five, a career high, to go with five assists and nine points. Jackson had four, to go with four points and no assists. He also had 11 rebounds.
The two freshmen, guard Darryl Morsell and center Bruno Fernando, combined for seven turnovers.
Morsell, who had an otherwise solid game with 13 points and great defense, had three turnovers for the third straight game. Fernando, whose dunks and defense helped spark a 12-0 run in the first half, had four turnovers, two of them on either moving screens or offensive fouls.
Given the way Huerter started the game, with four of those assists coming in a little over eight minutes, it was surprising how his mistakes piled up as Butler cut Maryland’s 12-point lead midway through the first half to five late in the first half.
“One was an offensive foul; there was a double-team and we weren’t prepared for it, so that was on me,” Turgeon said. “I thought he was really good in the second half except for the turnovers. He was great defensively. I thought he made some big-time plays for us in that game.”
Turgeon said that some of the surprise comes from the expectations after solid freshman seasons.
“Justin and Kevin and [Anthony Cowan Jr.] were so good last year, you almost expect them to be perfect this season, but they’re not going to be perfect,” Turgeon said. “They’re going to make mistakes. As long as they’re trying to make the right play, I’m good with it.”