The deeper No. 17 Maryland gets into Big Ten, the deeper coach Mark Turgeon hopes to go on his bench

Less than four minutes into Tuesday night’s game at Northwestern, Maryland’s starters had combined to miss their team’s first five shots, the first four of them 3-pointers. What made things a lot worse was that the Wildcats had made four of their first five, and the Terps found themselves trailing 10-0.

Perhaps more frustrated with the way his team had started than in any game this season, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon put sophomores Ricky Lindo Jr., Serrel Smith Jr. and Aaron Wiggins into the game. Little-used redshirt junior Joshua Tomaic would soon follow.


Smith, who had scored a combined 71 points in two games against Oak Hill during his high school career in St. Petersburg, Florida, immediately hit a 3-pointer to put the Terps on the scoreboard at Welsh-Ryan Arena and would add another a little over three minutes later.

Wiggins, who had returned to the sixth-man role he played last season after going scoreless for the first time in his college career in an 18-point loss at Iowa on Jan. 10, assisted on 3-pointers by both Smith and Lindo before making one his own en route to a career-high 17-point performance.

Not only did Lindo connect on his first 3-pointer since making one against Rhode Island in the second game of the season, but he also began to dominate on the defensive boards, getting five rebounds before halftime. Even Tomaic helped, making one of two free throws.

“The best thing about Serrel’s shots and Ricky’s shots was that it was out of the [set] offense,” Turgeon said after practice Friday at Xfinity Center. “Serrel didn’t have to force anything, it came after an extra pass. He hit the first one, the second one same thing.

“And then Ricky, it’s three weeks in the making. He stays after practice and makes 50 3s every time [at practice]. Guys are not guarding him, and he’s got to be ready to knock it down. He’s made more at practice and it’s finally carried over to the game. It should give him a lot of confidence moving forward. “

If not for the contribution of Turgeon’s newly configured bench rotation, No. 17 Maryland might not have beaten Northwestern, 77-66. It was Maryland’s second comeback win in the Big Ten this season after being down double-digits (14 points) going into the second half.

“Our bench really helped us,” Turgeon said of his backups that contributed 27 points — the most Maryland’s reserves have scored in a Big Ten game this season — along with 11 rebounds, four assists and four steals and a blocked shot. “That was the deepest we’ve been all year. We talked about it after the Purdue game, we’ve got to build depth.”

Maryland forward Ricky Lindo Jr. (4) and guard Serrel Smith Jr. (10) defend Northwestern forward Robbie Beran (31) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/David Banks)
Maryland forward Ricky Lindo Jr. (4) and guard Serrel Smith Jr. (10) defend Northwestern forward Robbie Beran (31) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/David Banks) (David Banks/AP)

Said Lindo, “It makes the team a lot better, you can’t rely on the starters all game. They get tired too. Make sure we just come in and do what we can to keep the lead, get the lead or whatever.”

Which leads to Sunday’s game at Indiana (15-4, 5-3) and, perhaps, to the remainder of what has been a rollercoaster stretch in the Big Ten season for Maryland (15-4, 5-3). For the Terps to keep winning, Turgeon will need help from those on the bench.

Lindo, who struggled to find minutes earlier this season before twin freshmen forwards Makhi and Makhel Mitchell left the team in late December, could play a big role at Assembly Hall given the size the Hoosiers have with 6-foot-11 senior De’Ron Davis, 6-foot-8 sophomore Race Thompson and 6-foot-9 freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Normally used along with 7-2 freshman Chol Marial to present defensive problems, Lindo’s ability to stretch the floor offensively could help take some pressure off sophomore forward Jalen Smith, who wound up scoring a career-high 25 points, including 21 in the second half, against Northwestern.

“I’ve been working a lot with [assistant coach Matt] Brady a lot in the summer, after practice, coming in later at night practicing my 3-point shot, so I’ve got a lot of confidence in it,” said Lindo, who has made 2 of 3 this season after hitting just 2 of 12 last season.

Asked how much the offensive contribution from the bench helped Tuesday, Lindo said, “It was very important, showed how easy it was for us to score and give confidence to the starters. It helped a lot, especially in the second half.”

Said sophomore guard Eric Ayala, who has started the past three games in place of Wiggins after being the sixth man for most of the season, “They gave us a different energy. It was a collective effort.”


Ayala said he has taken particular pleasure in watching the maturation of Lindo and Serrel Smith, who also had also fallen out of the rotation earlier in the season. Ayala played 16 minutes Tuesday — nearly double his season’s average after playing 12 minutes a game as a freshman.

“It’s beautiful to see their confidence level. Ricky didn’t hesitate at all, he just shot,” Ayala said Friday. “Serrel, watching him in practice, he got another [level to his] game, he got some more coming. He’s been very confident in practice and it’s carried over to the games. I’m just proud of Serrel, the resilience he’s been able to gather up, just keep fighting. He deserves everything he has coming from him.”

Turgeon has seen it too.

“Serrel’s hoopin’ out here in practice now, so he’s getting a lot of confidence now, and our guys have confidence in him,” Turgeon said.

Marial’s status: Turgeon said that Marial, who didn’t play against Northwestern after getting in for just two minutes against Purdue, is feeling some of the effects of his nearly three-year layoff because of injuries. “He’s not feeling well,” Turgeon said. “When you’re out for two and half years, his muscles are hurting him. He fell on his hip and today he slightly twisted his ankle. He’s just going through it. I feel for the kid. But then again he made a play today, like ‘Ooh, OK. We’ll see Sunday, they’re a big team, there might be an opportunity for him to play a couple of minutes.”


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