Maryland keeps it 100 to muzzle Bulldogs 100 – 58
The Maryland Terrapins basketball team rolled up the newspaper and punished the Wingate Bulldogs for trying to make a mess in their house 100 – 58. While it started off closer than fans wanted, Maryland would rub the noses of the Bulldogs into the paint of the Xfinity Center and throw them outside by the end of the contest.
This was a late addition to the schedule, as Maryland was left sniffing out a new opponent after their Nebraska game was postponed when Covid-19 struck the Cornhuskers. Head coach Brian Good took his team on a car ride from North Carolina and left them to defend for themselves against Maryland this afternoon at Xfinity Center.
Many fans were left pondering why Maryland would play a Division II opponent, and Mark Turgeon explained in an interview “I know in my release, we said a few things yesterday, but here’s the whole deal: we wanted to play a game. Well we’re ranked No. 35 in the NET and our schedule strength is five, and we felt like if we played a sub-200 team, we could drop all the way to 50 in the net and our schedule strength could drop to 15 in one game. And we didn’t want that. You know, the one thing we have going for us is our league is terrific and we got Clemson in the ACC challenge, you know, and they’re 12th in the country or 10th in the whatever they are now. So we play an unbelievable schedule, so we thought instead of playing a Division I team that’s a little bit lower, let’s play a really good Division II team and it won’t affect our NET and it won’t affect our strength of schedule, and we can still play a game.”
With that being said, Maryland used Wingate as opportunity to bone up on their play before matching up with Big 10 Division leader Michigan on Tuesday. With all due respect to Wingate, this felt like a bait dog situation in which Maryland could build confidence shooting more consistently from beyond the arc. This year, when Maryland shoots over 35% from three point range, they have won, when they shoot below, they lose. It’s been that simple. They must shoot from distance to win against the big dogs of the Big 10. Maryland will finish up January against three ranked opponents in #7 Michigan, #23 Minnesota, and # 9 Wisconsin.
Maryland would once again be without starting point guard Eric Ayala for this contest, allowing him to lick his wounds before resuming Big 10 play on Tuesday. After winning without Ayla against Illinois, Maryland would look to Aaron Wiggins, Darryl Morsell, and Hakim Hart to help initiate the offense.
Wingate would give an opportunity to its senior’s to start against Maryland with all five starters being in their final year of eligibility. This game would not count against the Bulldogs making the jump up against a D1 opponent.
Once the game started, there was some initial sniffing out from both sides before Wingate would circle the court and find an early four point lead while Maryland missed on their opening three possessions. After the first timeout, Mark Turgeon calmed the Terps starters and would use their size to score on four consecutive possessions.
The Terps would once again find themselves struggling to retrieve points by missing open looks early in the shot clock. Wingate would lead Maryland 16-12 with under twelve minutes to play in the first half. Mark Turgeon would look to fetch some minutes from bench contributors Jairus Hamilton and Aquan Smart.
As time wore down in the first half, Aaron Wiggins would have enough of the playful banter and would push the pace of the Wingate guards by intercepting a pass and like a good boy, he’d slam the ball down against the paint with an emphatic one handed slam.
The defense for Maryland muzzled the bulldogs on offense by putting pressure on them as they crossed into Maryland’s yard. Maryland looked as if they put in an underground fence near the perimeter that shocked Wingate every time they tried to get the ball inside. Without being able to get the ball near the rim, the Bulldogs bench went mutts when guard Francis Sio connected from the barking lot to bring their team back in the first half.
In the second half, Tommy Kirk would have been proud of Aaron Wiggin’s mercy he displayed against the Bulldogs in this game. Wiggins scored an impressive eighteen points in the first half and finished with a career high twenty three points but seemingly could score at will against any defender put on him. He has Maryland fans wondering if his recent play can help lead Maryland into tournament play this March and finding its established scorer the rest of the season.
Recently Wiggins has looked more like the promising player with NBA potential using his athleticism and leaping ability to create space on jump shots around the key. Most fans remember his freshman year in which he shot over forty percent from three point range but he now appears to be more than just a deep threat. He was clearly the best player on the court this afternoon and Maryland may have found their go to scorer in Wiggins.
Early in the second half Maryland would get unleashed against the Bulldogs, going on an 11-0 run in a matter of only 90 seconds. They would mark their territory early from outside splashing down consecutive three pointers from the corner.
James Graham III would see his first points as a Terp with less than 13:00 minutes to go in the second half. The Wisconsin freshman would strike again from range on back to back possessions. It seemed like the recent addition found confidence after seeing his first basket fall through the hoop and within a matter of seconds he had eight career points as a Terp.
Maryland would empty its bench in the second half, including getting points from Aiden McCool who I’ve been waiting to type all season. It also allowed for some extended minutes for role players to find some playing time up over forty points. The lead would fluctuate but was never in any doubt for Maryland as they continued to take the Bulldogs for a walk until time expired.
They say every dog has its day, and it was a career day for Aaron Wiggins. Wiggins would finish with twenty three points, six points, and three assists. He shot an impressive 7-of-12 from the floor and was the catalyst for the Terps offense to establish dominance in the first half. All Maryland starters would finish with double digit points and they would shoot over forty percent from three point range. Maryland had fourteen turnovers but would out rebound Wingate by fourteen.
While Wingate left the game with their tales between their legs, Maryland’s victory will be short lived as they travel to Ann Arbor. Until then, Maryland can hold their head out of the window as they travel up I-80 West with hopes of taking down the Wolverines of Michigan this Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.