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Men's Basketball: Terps win, set for ACC play

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland's mission is to score at will within the red-colored floorboards that occupy the space under each basket at Comcast Center.

It's called points in the paint, a statistic the Terrapins have dominated through their first 12 games, with Saturday's contest against Delaware State coming as no exception.

And Charles Mitchell was Maryland's post-play catalyst.

The freshman forward scored a season high 19 points and the Terps blasted the Hornets 79-50 in front of 12,389 fans at the final game of the month.

Maryland scored 58 points in the paint compared to Delaware State's 20, which helped ease a few shortcomings along the way. The Terps didn't shoot well from the foul line or the 3-point line, but it didn't matter thanks to efforts from guys like Mitchell.

And stronger, slimmer Mitchell.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said he noticed some recent weight gain and sluggishness in his 6-foot-8, 260-pound rookie, and that led to a dip in playing time. Mitchell spent the holiday break working out and shedding a few pounds, which helped him get back on the court and flourish.

"He was probably eating a few pizzas at night that he shouldn't have been eating," said Turgeon, "and he got back to discipline. He's worked hard, he's lost weight. Those were some pretty impressive numbers."

Mitchell also gathered 14 rebounds, another season high, and the Terrapins (11-1) turned a close game early on into a romp with a strong inside game and help from the reserves. Maryland outscored Delaware State 45-8 off the bench, with Mitchell and sophomore guard Seth Allen (10 points) contributing.

"I feel like it's a new Charles Mitchell," said Mitchell, who was 8 for 12 from the floor. "Just focusing on what I have to do. I got into some bad habits, got a little heavy, so it was extra conditioning before, after practice. Any time I could run, I'd just get up and run. Just getting back my body back to where it used to be."

The Terrapins closed the first half on a 29-8 run and led 40-22 at the break. They pulled away from Delaware State by going to Mitchell, who proved too tough for the Hornets (5-8) to handle in the paint.

Mitchell had 10 points during Maryland's scoring run, and sophomore guard Dez Wells (10 points) wowed the crowd with a thunderous slam dunk from the baseline with 4:55 remaining.

Wells' jam was reminiscent of those thrown down by former Maryland star Steve Francis, who was in attendance and received a warm ovation from the crowd when he was shown on the video board.

Delaware State struggled on offense (9 for 28 shooting) and went scoreless from the field for more than eight minutes, while the Terps found their stride by going inside.

"Charles has been working his tail off," Allen said. "At practice, when we got back from the break, Charles was working hard. Coach has been pushing him as hard as he can. He really pushes the freshmen to give effort ... and that's what Charles did."

Junior guard Pe'shon Howard led the Terps with six assists and Maryland needed but one 3-pointer in the first half to stretch its lead, taking advantage of Delaware State's 19 turnovers.

The Terps scored 29 points off the giveaways.

Plus, Maryland's 10 turnovers were a season low, something else that led to an 11th straight victory with one more non-conference foe remaining until ACC play begins Jan. 5 against Virginia Tech.

"We shared the ball well, executed well," Turgeon said.

"Our freshmen were great, our bench was great. Guys have been practicing well, and it showed."

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