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No practice, no problem: Maryland shows no sign of fatigue in 96-43 win over UMES

COLLEGE PARK — The Maryland men’s basketball team bussed up to Long Island for its season opener Friday night against Stony Brook, and didn’t get back to campus until around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

Coach Mark Turgeon gave the Terps the day off after their 15-point win at Nassau Coliseum, then had film study and a shootaround Sunday in preparation for Sunday’s home opener against UMES.

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Except for the game’s early minutes, the lack of sleep and practice didn’t show against an overmatched, undermanned and undersized opponent at Xfinity Center.

After making a case to be Maryland's best all-around player as a freshman, Kevin Huerter looks to expand his game.

Led by its shortest scholarship player, sophomore guard Anthony Cowan Jr., Maryland was sharp at both ends of the floor in a 96-43 victory over UMES, the Terps’ most lopsided under Turgeon in seven years.

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Cowan finished with a team-high 16 points and tied his career high with nine rebounds. Senior wing Jared Nickens scored 15 points, hitting all five of his shots and all four of his 3-point attempts.

Redshirt junior guard Dion Wiley added 13 and freshman guard Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph) chipped in 12 points and five rebounds. Freshman guard Cameron Bacote led UMES (1-1) with 16 points.

Cowan has now led the Terps in scoring in their first two games — he scored 15 against Stony Brook — and is also averaging 7.5 rebounds. Asked what the difference is so far this season, Cowan said, “I think the year underneath my belt really helped me. I’m playing with a little bit more confidence now, and just knowing what Coach wants.”

Said Turgeon, “He’s really playing well. He’s defending well and getting some steals out there. He’s rebounding. I’m teasing him for having zero assists. He’s playing great with everything he’s doing. A great start to the season for him.”

Noting that the Hawks were playing without several starters, Turgeon was still pleased with the consistency of his team with despite how quickly the game became one sided. Maryland led 44-18 at halftime.

“I’m sure they played lineups they never practiced because they got in foul trouble. I feel for them. Hopefully they’ll get healthy and will be good down the road,” Turgeon said. “I was really proud of my guys to keep concentrating and trying to do the right things.”

Turgeon said the defensive intensity his team has demonstrated in its first two games is a continuation of what began in the preseason.

“We practice so hard and I think it carries over, I think we play pretty hard in the games,” Turgeon said. “I think we really locked in about the 10-mimute mark of the first half, probably about the 14-minute of the second half we really locked in and guarded. When you have depth you can do that.

“I was proud of that. We could have easily looked at the scoreboard and stopped playing. But we didn’t do that. We continued to play and share the ball and play the right way. We shot good shots, shared the ball, defended, talked on screens, guarded the right way. It’s encouraging.”

Going small: After the first four possessions resulted in two missed free throws by senior center Michal Cekovsky, back-to-back turnovers and a missed corner 3-point attempt by Cowan, Turgeon subbed out both the 7-foot-1 Slovakian and 6-foot-10 freshman Bruno Fernando, who was making his first start.

“I started a big lineup. Probably wasn’t very smart on my part. Went small, and we started to play better,” Turgeon said.

Putting 6-foot-9 redshirt junior Ivan Bender at center and inserting Wiley as an extra guard, the Terps scored on nine of their next 10 possessions. Wiley got Maryland on the scoreboard by making his first two shots, both 3-pointers.

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Though Turgeon eventually went back to his bigs, he never used his starting lineup with both Cekovsky and Fernando. Mostly it had to do with the size differential with the Hawks, but eventually the Terps are going to need to play them together.

Wiley finally getting his run: It’s been a long road back for Wiley, who missed the entire 2015-16 season after tearing his meniscus a few days before the opening game and then had back problems last season that he said were related to him favoring his good leg.

Despite suffering a sprained ankle in the preseason — one of four the Terps suffered in the five-week run up to the season — Wiley has played well and looked better than at any point of his college basketball career.

Aside from hitting the two early 3-pointers against UMES, and then adding another in the second half, Wiley had looked quicker and more aggressive defensively than he did before the knee injury, when he was carrying a little more weight left over from his high school days.

After hitting the boards, Maryland's running game was on display in its season-opening 76-61 win over Stony Brook.

Is this the starting lineup? The day before the opening game, Turgeon said he had still not settled on a starting lineup and that it could change depending on who the Terps were playing. By starting Fernando on Sunday night, it might be an indication that he has changed his mind.

Maryland’s next game will be Wednesday at home against Butler as part of the Dave Gavitt Tipoff Games, the first big-time opponent in a stretch of games that will also include Bucknell at home Saturday, Syracuse at the Carrier Dome on Nov. 27 and Purdue on Dec. 1 in the earlier than usual Big Ten opener.

Given that it appears as if the other four starters — Cowan and fellow sophomores Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson, along with Cekovsky — are pretty much locked in, the only question remains whether he will let Fernando play through his early-season nerves and mistakes as a starter. Chances are he will.

“He’s going to learn a lot from film. I think he learned a lot from [watching] the first game,” Turgeon said of Fernando, who, after scoring 10 points in his debut Friday, had six points, two rebounds and two blocked shots in 16 minutes Sunday. “I’m going to have to play that lineup. There’s some really big teams in our league. I think we’ll get used to it.”

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