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Terps

Three takeaways from Maryland men’s basketball’s 76-52 over Binghamton

Maryland men’s basketball’s defense shined again and its strong start to the season continued with a 76-52 win over Binghamton in College Park on Tuesday night.

From the Terps’ defensive identity taking shape to coach Kevin Willard’s frustration with their late-game execution, here are three takeaways from Maryland’s third straight victory at the Xfinity Center.

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Defensive identity coming together

The sample size is growing, and it’s becoming clear what the Terps’ defensive identity is going to be under Willard this season.

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Maryland plays with a defensive intensity that features mostly full-court pressure and locking down the perimeter. The Terps held Binghamton to 4-for-21 shooting from deep, continuing a stellar trend as they rank 15th in the country in opponent 3-point percentage (20%).

Willard likes to apply pressure early and often, hoping to get into opponents’ heads from the start. “I think we set the tone early in games with our defensive intensity,” he said.

Maryland’s ability to force turnovers has been their most impressive attribute so far. The Terps have forced 14.6 turnovers per game after Binghamton turned the ball over 15 times and they’ve taken advantage of those, averaging 19.3 points off turnovers.

Maryland scored eight of its first 12 points that way against the Bearcats.

“It gives everybody energy because those turnovers lead to fast break points,” senior forward Donta Scott said.

Maryland guard Hakim Hart, right, drives to the basket during a game against Western Carolina last Thursday in College Park. Hart went 1-for-3 from deep in the Terps' 76-52 win over Binghamton on Tuesday.

Willard concerned with 3-point shooting

While their perimeter defense has stood out, the Terps’ perimeter offense has not.

They got off to a hot start from deep, shooting 45% in a season-opening win against Niagara, but the past two games have been a different story as they’ve combined to shoot 5-for-39 (12.8%). Willard isn’t concerned about the team’s ability to knock down 3-pointers but rather points to shot selection as the reason why they’ve struggled. Maryland made 4 of 20 threes against Binghamton.

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On Tuesday, transfer guard Don Carey went 1-for-4 from the 3-point line as he continued to struggle with his long-range shot and finished with seven points. Junior Hakim Hart went 1-for-3 from outside, while freshman Noah Batchelor missed four of his five attempts.

“When you have great shooters, they think they can make every shot,” Willard said. “I think we are settling for the first shot, and that’s just a little bit of early season jitters. We need to take better [3-point shots] at times.”

Late-game execution lagging

Maryland won by 24 points on Tuesday. Willard thought it should’ve been more.

He voiced his displeasure with how the Terps finished the game with his reserves, as the Bearcats went on an 8-0 run during the final two minutes to erase what the first-year coach thought could’ve been a 35-point victory.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’m not thrilled with it,” said Willard, who also noted Western Carolina went on a 14-1 run in the final three minutes of last week’s game.

Willard said “the last four minutes are just as important as the first four minutes,” while adding that the reserves will not get opportunities down the stretch if they don’t play better.

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“Because stats matter,” he said. “All of a sudden your KenPom goes down. Your NET [rating] goes down.

“There’s no reason to blow a 34-point lead in the last four minutes of the game. So there comes a responsibility when you step on the court. You’ve got to do what you’re supposed to do.”

Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off

Maryland vs. Saint Louis

Uncasville, Connecticut

Saturday, 1 p.m.

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TV: ESPNEWS

Radio: 105.7 FM


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