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3-point shots: Observations and opinions from Maryland's win over Jackson State

Credit Jackson State guard Paris Collins for helping Maryland wake up from its early-game slumber Monday at Xfinity Center.

With one slap of the court, and a few too many words of trash talk, Collins certainly woke up Bruno Fernando and Kevin Huerter.

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The court slap occurred midway through the first half, with the Terps holding a 23-21 lead.

That’s when Fernando, Maryland’s new manchild freshman center, took a lob pass from sophomore point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. and jammed it as he was being fouled. His three-point play started a 15-4 run to give the Terps a 38-25 halftime lead.

The trash talking started early and continued as the teams were leaving the court at halftime.

The Jackson State guard, whose skinny body and toothy smile were reminiscent of former TV talk show host Arsenio Hall, said something to Huerter, who smiled and said something back.

If it were up to Fernando and Huerter, they would’ve probably preferred to send Collins and the rest of the Tigers back to Jackson State — where the 6-foot-10 Fernando was temporarily listed as the school’s president on its Wikipedia page — with an even larger margin of defeat.

Here are some 3-point shots from Maryland’s 31-point win:

1. It’s not surprising that Kevin Huerter was more than a serviceable backup point guard after Darryl Morsell was injured.

There’s been a lot of talk the past few months about Maryland’s lack of a backup to Cowan. Mainly that’s centered around the skepticism surrounding Morsell as he made the transition from high school, but it was also the lack of understanding of Huerter’s game.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon is hoping the freshman guard’s strained hamstring responds to treatment the next few days and that he’ll be ready to play against St. Bonaventure on Friday at the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Fla.

Morsell has already shown what he adds — more in terms of his energy, defense and ability to make plays in the air than with his passing, playmaking and ability to find open shooters at this early stage of his college career.

But as long as Huerter keeps his turnovers down, which he did by committing just one against Jackson State after having a career-high five against both Butler and Bucknell, the Terps should be fine if he’s running the team when Cowan is taking a breather.

The 6-7 Huerter was a point guard in high school, and his court vision and basketball IQ in sensing where the ball needs to go have been apparent since his freshman year. Maryland fans might remember that Walt Williams, at 6-8, was the team’s point guard his last three years (1989-90 to 1991-92).

2. The Terps need to fix the defensive rebounding problems they had the past two games — and fast.

What helped both Jackson State stay in the game early and Bucknell stay in the game right until the end of Saturday’s 80-78 Terps victory was their ability to get offensive rebounds and score off second chances.

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The Tigers wound up with 14 offensive rebounds Monday, scoring 10 points on second chance opportunities in the first half and 15 for the game. The Bison scored 17 second-chance points on the 10 offensive rebounds they grabbed.

Maryland came into Monday’s game ranked eighth in the country in rebounding margin (plus-17.3), a jump from No. 183 (plus-0.4) a year ago. Huerter said recently that it’s been a team goal to win the rebounding battle every night.

While the Terps did that easily against Jackson State, with a 44-27 advantage, some old habits resurfaced when it came to not boxing out or simply assuming someone else had the rebound. You can be sure Turgeon will address that in practice the next few days.

3. Anthony Cowan Jr. likely will not have another scoreless night in his career.

Given the way he started the season, leading the Terps in scoring in each of their first four games and averaging 18.3 points, it was shocking to see all the zeroes alongside Cowan’s name in the box score Monday.

It was the first time in his Maryland career that Cowan failed to score a point. It was perhaps the first time since he started playing organized basketball.

Though Turgeon was quick to point out Cowan’s six assists and tough defense on an off-shooting (0-for-5) night as a sign of how the sophomore’s game has grown this season, the Terps need him to score.

A lot had to do with Jackson State’s 3-2 zone defense taking away his driving lanes and Cowan not being able to draw fouls, as he has done so often this season.

But with the likelihood of more teams zoning Maryland to clog things up for Fernando inside, Cowan is going to have to hit his 3s with more consistency.

Cowan shot just 32.1 percent on 3-pointers a year ago and started the season missing his first five before hitting three big ones late in the shot clock to help beat Butler.

He was 0-for-3 against Jackson State, making him 4-for-17 for the season.

4. Maryland can’t settle for 3-point shots

Turgeon wasn’t happy that the Terps shot more 3-pointers (27) than 2-point shots (25) Monday, another old habit of being impatient running the offense against a zone.

Part of it might have been Justin Jackson (3-for-8 from 3-point range on the only shots he was credited with taking) trying to shoot his way out out of an early-season slump.

Part of it certainly was Jared Nickens getting extended minutes because of Morsell’s injury and Jackson State’s zone almost inviting the Terps to shoot 3-pointers.

Nickens doesn’t need that kind of invitation. He finished the game 4-for-8 on 3-pointers, scoring 14 points in 17 minutes, and he’s now 8-for-12 from beyond the arc this season.

But for the Terps to have success against good zone defenses, such as the 2-3 they will face Monday night at Syracuse, they have to pass the ball better to find more high-percentage shots and maybe set better screens to free up Cowan and Jackson to drive the ball.

If they can do that, it will also create space in the zone for Fernando and Michal Cekovsky to maneuver inside.

“We’re trying to find the right guy honestly to put in the high post. Anyone knows against a zone the place to break down is in the high post,” Huerter said. “We haven’t even put in a lot of stuff that you’ll see when we play a team like Syracuse.”

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