COLLEGE PARK - It will probably be weeks until the real skill level of the Maryland Terrapins is evident. Their remaining non-conference schedule doesn't seem to present much of a challenge.
On Friday night, LIU Brooklyn didn't truly scare the Terps, but they were within shouting distance for most of the game. In the end, Maryland wore down the Blackbirds 91-74 before 12,785 at Comcast Center.
The Terps (2-1) opened the season with a three-point loss to No. 3 Kentucky in Brooklyn, within walking distance of LIU's campus. On Monday, the Terps easily romped over Morehead State.
This wasn't a romp, but the Blackbirds (0-3) never got within seven in the second half.
"That was a game I kind of worried about all summer," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said.
LIU had been to the NCAA tournament in consecutive years, and features the NEC's best player, Julian Boyd. He had 22 points and though he had three teammates scoring 46 more, the Blackbirds bench contributed nothing.
Maryland's bench outscored LIU's 36-0.
Freshman guard Seth Allen scored 19 as a reserve as Turgeon played 10, but shortened the rotation in the second half. He knows that the closer his team gets to conference play, fewer will play meaningful minutes.
"You better play well when you're in or you're not going to go back in," Turgeon said. "We'll do our best to keep them happy, but they have to keep themselves happy. As long as we're winning, that cures a lot of things."
Alex Len had 18, including the Terps' first six. Len had seven rebounds and four blocks. Turgeon liked Len's play, but wasn't thrilled with Nick Faust's, and played four guards with the 7-foot-1 Len in the second half.
"I was really stubborn tonight. I kept the big lineup in. I get tired of bailing kids out. I want them to bail themselves out," Turgeon said.
Dez Wells had 15 and eight rebounds. He benefited from a talk with Turgeon when the coach advised the sophomore, who's new to Maryland, to just play.
"You don't have to be the guy," Turgeon told him. "Don't feel like you have to save the world."
Best of all was Pe'Shon Howard, who had a career high 13 assists and just one turnover.
"I've got scorers around me. It makes it so much easier," Howard said. "It's only the third game. Everybody's trying to find their niche, trying to find their groove."
Howard, who's a junior, isn't sure how good this team can be.
"I have no idea. I've never been to a tournament. I don't know what it takes," Howard said.
Between now and the beginning of conference play in seven weeks, there's Lafayette, Georgia Southern, UMES, South Carolina State, Monmouth, Stony Brook, Delaware State and IUPUI, all at home. The only conceivable roadblocks between a 12-1 record entering the ACC are games at Northwestern and with George Mason at the Verizon Center.
"We can't be happy beating the teams that we're playing. They're good teams, but we're in the ACC, and we want to compete for a championship," Howard said.
Maryland took the lead on an 11-0 run that gave them a 13-7 lead with 4½ minutes gone. Though LIU got within three points with about three minutes to play in the first half, the Terps turned up their game and led 39-30 at the half.
The Blackbirds trailed 77-68 with just under five minutes to play, but a 14-3 run ended the Brooklynites fun.
"I thought we competed with these guys," LIU coach Jack Perri said. "I thought we would be able to because we've got some seniors, and Maryland is a young group. I thought we could do a decent job here, and we did."