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After brief hiccup, Maryland men’s basketball imposes will in 100-58 win against Division II Wingate

Donta Scott, Terps, watches the ball drop as he holds on to the rim in the 1st half as the University of Maryland men's basketball team hosts Wingate at the Xfinity Center. The Terps play Division II Wingate after the game against Nebraska was postponed because of COVID-19 cases in the Nebraska program. January 15, 2021.
Donta Scott, Terps, watches the ball drop as he holds on to the rim in the 1st half as the University of Maryland men's basketball team hosts Wingate at the Xfinity Center. The Terps play Division II Wingate after the game against Nebraska was postponed because of COVID-19 cases in the Nebraska program. January 15, 2021. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun)

COLLEGE PARK — Mark Turgeon raged, and the Maryland men’s basketball team responded.

Trailing by as much as four points in the first half that inspired an on-court tirade from their incensed head coach, the Terps eventually played like the Big Ten powerhouse they aspire to be and tossed aside Division II Wingate’s upset bid in a 100-58 throttling at the Xfinity Center on Friday afternoon.

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Friday’s game was a hastily scheduled matchup after a home game against Big Ten foe Nebraska on Saturday was postponed due to coronavirus cases within the Cornhuskers.

Junior shooting guard Aaron Wiggins’ game-high 21 points led a group of five players who each reached double digits in points as Maryland (8-6) enjoyed its highest output in a game since Nov. 23, 2018 when that squad walloped Marshall, 104-67.

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“We got out of today what I wanted to get out of today,” Turgeon said. “We had great enthusiasm. They’re really hard to guard, they shoot the ball well, and they drive to the hole well. I thought as the game wore on, our defense just got better and better, which was great to see. We did a lot of good things well. We rebounded well. I thought offensively, we shared the ball. Twenty-seven assists on 32 baskets was terrific.”

In addition to the 27 assists, the offense set another season best with 32 field goals made, and its 12 3-pointers made were one shy of tying the season high established in an 84-73 loss to No. 7 Michigan on New Year’s Eve.

But the picture did not look quite so rosy in the first nine minutes of the first half. The Bulldogs (6-4) scored the game’s first four points as the Terps floundered on their first four possessions with three missed field-goal attempts and one turnover.

After Maryland used a 12-5 run to assume a 12-9 lead with 14:04 left in the period, Wingate scored seven unanswered points. Redshirt junior guard Jarren Cottingham turned a steal into a layup, redshirt junior guard Francis Sio drained a jumper, and then Sio nailed a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 16-12 advantage and force Turgeon to call a timeout with 11:42 remaining.

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Maryland men's head basketball coach Mark Turgeon is not happy as his team trails Wingate early in the 1st half. University of Maryland Terrapins men's basketball team hosts Wingate at the Xfinity Center. The Terps play Division II Wingate after the game against Nebraska was postponed because of COVID-19 cases in the Nebraska program. January 15, 2021.
Maryland men's head basketball coach Mark Turgeon is not happy as his team trails Wingate early in the 1st half. University of Maryland Terrapins men's basketball team hosts Wingate at the Xfinity Center. The Terps play Division II Wingate after the game against Nebraska was postponed because of COVID-19 cases in the Nebraska program. January 15, 2021. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun)

Turgeon loudly upbraided the players on the floor before they could sit down. “Move the ball!” he screamed. “It’s not about you! It’s about us!”

After the game, Turgeon blamed himself and the players for contributing to that sequence.

“I was trying to play too many damn guys early, and we couldn’t get guys in a rhythm,” he said. “Then we got really selfish. We took two really bad shots in a row. … I just want guys to play the right way, play every possession the right way offensively and defensively, and we weren’t doing that. So we just had to get to that point. … It’s a simple game. It’s not easy to coach and all of that stuff, but it’s a simple game, and I was just letting them know that it could be a lot more simpler than we were making it.”

Senior power forward Galin Smith, an Alabama transfer playing his first season for the Terps, said he did not have an issue with Turgeon’s tongue-lashing.

“It was honestly probably what we needed at that point in time just to light a fire in us so that we could get the game going and do what we were supposed to do and close it out,” said Smith, who had 13 points and four rebounds.

Following the timeout, Maryland outscored the Bulldogs, 35-18, for the rest of the half to take a 47-34 advantage into halftime. The Terps then scored 13 of the second half’s first 14 points to ensure that David would not defeat Goliath this time.

Wiggins’ 21 points were just one shy of his career best recorded in a 63-55 loss to Indiana on Jan. 4. He has scored 12 points or more in each of his last four starts and averaged 15.1 points in his last eight. But he downplayed his torrid shooting touch.

“I’m just comfortable doing whatever it takes to win,” said Wiggins, who also led the team in rebounds (six), field goals made (six), free throws made (five) and 3-pointers made (four). “Scoring is not even anything that’s too hard of a challenge in terms of being able to use my abilities. When I score, it almost creates for other guys because it kind of opens up the court. I just want to help our team win, and if that’s scoring or creating, I just want to make sure that I’m being aggressive and playing to the best of my ability.”

Turgeon was pleased with Wiggins’ productivity, saying, “I thought Wiggins was terrific. He’s been really good lately.”

In addition to Wiggins and Smith, Maryland got 11 points each from senior shooting guard Darryl Morsell (five assists) and sophomore point guard Hakim Hart (a game-best six assists and three rebounds) and 10 points from freshman forward James Graham III (four rebounds), a four-star Class of 2021 commit who arrived on campus on Dec. 27 to start his collegiate career.

The Terps (2-5 Big Ten) will visit No. 7 Michigan (11-0, 6-0 Big Ten) on Tuesday night and could welcome back junior point guard Eric Ayala, the team’s leading scorer at 14.0 points per game who sat out his second consecutive game because of a groin injury he re-aggravated in an 89-67 setback at No. 5 Iowa on Jan. 7.

“We’ll see,” Turgeon said. “He’s feeling better. Tomorrow, he’s going to do a workout that’s not a practice and just see how he reacts to it. So there will be some shooting, there will be some movement, there will be some running, and if he responds well to that, we’ll probably practice him, and he’ll have half a practice on Sunday. And if he reacts well to that, we’ll practice him a little bit more.”

MARYLAND@NO. 7 MICHIGAN

Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TV: FS1 Radio: 105.7 FM

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