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The No. 6 Maryland men’s basketball team has started 4-0 for the sixth straight season, a streak that coincides with the Terps joining the Big Ten. Here are three takeaways from a 74-55 win over Fairfield on Tuesday night at Xfinity Center.

Maryland’s best lineup might not be the one that starts.

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Mark Turgeon started freshman Donta Scott for the first time this season, replacing fellow freshman Makhi Mitchell. The 6-foot-7 forward became the Terps’ fifth different starter, joining three players who have opened every game — senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr., as well as sophomores Jalen Smith and Aaron Wiggins — along with junior guard Darryl Morsell, who only came off the bench in the season opener.

Going into the second half, Turgeon started sophomore forward Ricky Lindo Jr., who was on his way to the best game he has played as a Terp: a 13-point, six-rebound performance that included Lindo making all six of his shot attempts and playing with the kind of energy he showed in short bursts as a freshman.

It was a career high in points for Lindo, whose previous high was eight, and his 21 minutes marked only the sixth time he played 20 or more.

Maryland forward Ricky Lindo Jr., center, shoots between Fairfield guard Calvin Whipple (11) and forward Wassef Methnani, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Maryland forward Ricky Lindo Jr., center, shoots between Fairfield guard Calvin Whipple (11) and forward Wassef Methnani, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) (Nick Wass / AP)

Turgeon said after the game that Lindo was the ninth player to start a half for Maryland this season, which is an indication of both the team’s depth and the inconsistency of its young frontcourt players, including Mitchell and his twin brother, Makhel, as well as Scott, whose first start ended with him only playing seven minutes and being the only Terp with a negative plus-minus.

“Lucky for me, one guy wasn’t playing well, I can put another one in,” Turgeon said after the game. "We usually figure it out around the 15-minute mark of the second half who our best players are and go with them that night. It was good to see Ricky. I thought he was defending well, he rebounded, he was flying around. He was aggressive, but he made smart plays. "

Turgeon amended that statement later to say that he knows who his best five players are. While he didn’t identify them, it’s clearly Cowan, Smith, Wiggins, Morsell and sophomore Eric Ayala, who after starting ahead of Morsell in the opener has switched roles and is coming off the bench to help solidify the second unit with an experienced point guard.

Asked what his role is with that group, mostly made up of freshmen, Ayala said: “Just making sure they bring energy and toughness. Making sure they’re ready to play and me being a vocal leader for that group. I’ve been out there, I’ve seen a lot of stuff. With the freshmen, making sure they’re alert and paying attention to detail."

Though Turgeon indicated that he will experiment less and shorten his bench, starting with Friday’s game against George Mason, it will help to get some consistency from that fifth starter, whoever that might be.

“I was trying to get guys used [to playing]. You never know what’s going to happen during the season," Turgeon said. “That’s over. I know who my best five players are. That might not be the best five to start, but they’re going to play the most minutes. After that, we’ve got to figure out things down the road, guys got to be more consistent for me. But we’ll start playing for keeps now going forward."

Maryland guard Hakim Hart, left, goes up for a shot as Oakland guard Madison Monroe (21) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in College Park, Md. Maryland won 80-50. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Maryland guard Hakim Hart, left, goes up for a shot as Oakland guard Madison Monroe (21) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in College Park, Md. Maryland won 80-50. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

Freshman Hakim Hart is showing ... well, heart.

Freshman wing Hakim Hart, who came to Maryland as both the youngest and least heralded player in the 2019 recruiting class, is starting to emerge along with Makhel Mitchell as the biggest surprises. The 6-6 wing, whose length makes him appear taller, had his second straight strong outing.

After scoring seven points — including going 5-for-6 from the free-throw line — and getting three assists in 12 minutes of Saturday’s 80-50 win over Oakland, Hart went scoreless and took only one shot in 13 minutes against Fairfield. But he did have three rebounds and two assists and used his length to bother Fairfield’s shooters.

“Hakim’s really coming on quickly,” Turgeon said. “He’s really passing the ball well. His length defensively, rebounding the ball, he missed a tip there late. I can’t believe it didn’t go in. ... The more we play him, the more he kind of shines. He gets tired quickly, he picked up a silly foul because he was tired. He’s got to tough it up. When you see guys getting better who can help the team, it’s fun.”

What’s been something of a revelation has been Hart’s ability to handle the ball, since his reputation coming out of high school in Philadelphia was that his offensive game revolved mostly around his 3-point shooting. It’s a bit similar to what Serrel Smith Jr. did as a freshman last season, when his ability to score off the dribble and defend outweighed his poor outside shooting.

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These Terps are attacking the rim.

After Fairfield cut what had been a 14-point halftime lead to just eight, 49-41, early in the second half, Ayala and Cowan hit back-to-back 3s to help push the margin to double digits and start a 20-9 run that essentially ended any threat of a comeback.

What was noticeable during that stretch was that, except for those 3s, all of the points came in the paint on drives, dunks and free throws resulting from fouls. The Terps attempted just two 3s — one by Wiggins and the other by Jalen Smith, missing both — during a nearly 10-minute stretch.

The game-breaking run came when Maryland attacked the zone Fairfield had used the whole night, with Ayala, Smith and Lindo noticeably more aggressive. Cowan had a couple of ill-advised attempts in traffic blocked when he could have kicked the ball to the wing, but for the most part helped set the tone by driving.

“One of the key things going into the game was playing inside-out,” Ayala said. “Early in the game, we kind of shot a lot of 3s. But we came back in our locker room [at halftime] and it was still up on the board. And I think everybody sort of gravitated toward attacking.”

George Mason@No. 6 Maryland

Friday, 7 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM

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