Maryland’s Overcoming Slow Starts During Five-Game Win Streak

By: Eric Myers

Maryland men’s basketball’s last five games have gone as follows: down nine points to Radford; down four points at halftime against Nebraska; seven points scored in the first 10 minutes against Rutgers; down six after 20 minutes to Minnesota and a 14 point deficit to Indiana at home.

Maryland men’s basketball’s last five games have also gone as follows: double-digit win over Radford; top-25 win over No. 24 Nebraska; coveted Big Ten road wins by double-digits over Rutgers and Minnesota and another top-25 win over No. 22 Indiana.

“Teams are starting to realize how good we are, so we get a lot of team’s best punch in that first few minutes of the game,” guard Eric Ayala said after the win over Indiana.

Ayala’s “best punch” boxing analogy holds up when looking at Maryland’s first half numbers over the course of this five game winning streak.

First Half Stats

Field Goal
3-pt FG
Free throws
TOs
per
Points
per
Maryland56/141 (39.7%)12/41 (29.3%)46/56 (82.1%)7.2
34
Opponent
65/154 (42.2%)17/44 (38.6%)18/30 (60%)5.433

The first half deficits could be attributed to the fact that their opponents are taking advantage of the extra possessions they’re afforded with the Terps’ first half turnovers. Sticking with Ayala’s allusion to boxing, Maryland has fought back with their frequent visits to the free throw line. Their plus-28 margin at the charity stripe helped Maryland stay in the last five bouts.

Maryland also used their offensive rebounding prowess to overcome their miscues on the offensive end. The Terps averaged six offensive rebounds in the first half over the last five games to get extra opportunities and offset the effect of the turnovers.

With three halftime deficits to conference foes during this five game winning streak, the offensive showings after halftime have been the difference between Maryland being a Big Ten bottom-feeder to where they currently sit as the second place team in the conference.

Second Half

Field Goal
3-pt FG
Free throws
TOs
per
Points
per
Maryland77/141 (54.6%)24/51 (47.1%)41/52 (78.8%)4.243.8
Opponent
60/140 (42.9%)19/51 (37.2%)37.57 (64.9%)335.2

What’s notable about those second half stats is the increased efficiency in shooting the ball. Over the last five games, they’ve attempted the same number of shots in the first half and the second half, but they’ve converted 21 more of those attempts. Those increased shot attempts combined with more success from beyond the 3-point line has led to over nine points more from the first half and the second half.

Head coach Mark Turgeon has leaned on his two offensive leaders, Anthony Cowan and Bruno Fernando, to carry the load and lead the team to victories.

Cowan and Fernando’s Stats by Half:

Field Goal Points (points per half)
Cowan (First Half)11/36 (30.6%)34 (6.8)
Cowan (Second Half)17/32 (53.1%)61 (12.2)
Fernando (First Half)10/18 (55.6%)34 (6.8)
Fernando (Second Half)21/28 (75%)48 (9.6)

Cowan and Fernando, a dynamic inside-out duo, improved in both their aggressiveness and efficiency in the second half. While Cowan’s shot attempts went down from the opening 20 minutes to the ladder 20 minutes, he was more aggressive driving to the interior, which often times resulted in free throws or opportunities for teammates off of a pass.

“They’ve been pretty consistent,” Turgeon said after the Indiana game. “We’d like to be a little more consistent with the rest of the guys moving forward… I think we have a lot of confidence in everybody that plays, but it’s nice when you have two guys that can figure out how to get some points to help you win the game.”

No matter who it’s been that’s stepped up and lifted the team in key moments, Turgeon isn’t surprised. There’s no statistic that can measure what the eighth-year head coach says he’s seen from this team dating back to the Summer.

“Ever since I had this team in Italy this summer, there’s something about them I can’t explain,” Turgeon said Friday night. “And I think it’s about how much they care about each other, how much they love each other and how they play hard for each other.”

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