For the first time in a long time, Anthony Cowan Jr. didn’t start a Maryland basketball game.

Friday’s 76-43 victory over Fayetteville State was only an exhibition, so Cowan’s streak of 99 straight starts since arriving on campus remains. But coach Mark Turgeon knows what he’s getting out of the senior guard, so he held Cowan out of the starting five as No. 7 Maryland hosted its first game of the season at Xfinity Center.


“[Aaron Wiggins] didn’t start last year; I wanted to start Wigs,” Turgeon explained afterward. “That was really it.”

Cowan will start Tuesday’s season opener against Holy Cross, pushing his streak to an even 100, but even Friday, he wasn’t out long, taking the court after the game’s first media timeout. The Terps, ahead by six then, saw that lead dwindle to 16-15 by the next break. Cowan, fouled on a 3-point attempt before the reprieve, made two of three free throws out of the break, then intercepted a pass on the Broncos’ subsequent possession and made a layup on the other end.

Cowan’s four straight points were the start of an 11-point run for the Terps, who added on that margin to take a 42-23 lead at halftime. Wiggins tied with Cowan for the team lead with nine points as nine Terps scored in the first 20 minutes. Eight of Maryland’s 15 first-half baskets were assisted on, as were 15 of 27 overall.

Cowan and freshman Makhi Mitchell replaced Ricky Lindo Jr. and Eric Ayala to open the second half, with Turgeon saying he wanted to rest Ayala after he led the team in first-half minutes while also moving Jalen Smith off center by bringing in Mitchell. But Mitchell wasn’t the game’s star freshman, with fellow forward Donta Scott scoring 10 points with a pair of 3-pointers, an area Maryland struggled at in the exhibition, making only six of its 19 tries from deep. Scott and the Mitchell twins, Makhi and Makhel, combined for 17 points as a class.

“We signed the twins and Donta to bring toughness to us, and I think they’re on their way to doing that," Turgeon said. "Donta is tough, man. You can’t break that kid.”

Cowan nearly matched the freshmen’s point total by himself. Despite coming off the bench, the senior led Maryland with 16 points, making all but one of his six shot attempts.

With Cowan on the bench, the exhibition’s first score came from Smith, a Baltimore native and Mount Saint Joseph product. A dunk coming off a Darryl Morsell lob provided the first points of his sophomore year.

“I didn’t see him throw it,” Smith said. "I didn’t see it until the ball was actually in the air, so I just went up and got it.”

But it also marked his only basket and points of the first half, as he committed two fouls while playing less than 11 minutes. He also came away with a meager two rebounds.

Smith, though, was much improved in the second half. He scored the Terps’ first six points out of halftime, making three free throws in the first 67 seconds of the second half. A fourth make from the stripe preceded a layup that built the Terps’ lead to 22. He finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

“I wasn’t really worried about my points tonight because it’s an exhibition game," Smith said. "But I saw my rebounds was low, and [assistant coach DeAndre Haynes] told me he just wanted to see me on the boards more, so I just did that, and everything started falling my way.”

Smith joined Cowan, Ayala and Scott as Terps in double figures, with Wiggins just shy at nine. Perhaps more significantly, nine players were on the court for at least 11 minutes as Turgeon works to sort out his rotations ahead of the regular season.

“Our talent speaks for itself," Wiggins said. "Today was just a tuneup, and it was just something for all the guys to get comfortable, and you saw how talented we are and how deep our bench can go. It’s a matter of time before we really get into the flow.”

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