Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times
We take to the film room to examine key plays that led to the Terps’ 74-55 win over the Stags.
Welcome back to the film room! The No. 6 Terps defeated another mid-major opponent in Fairfield on Tuesday, taking a 74-55 victory. It wasn’t the greatest performance we’ve seen from Mark Turgeon’s squad through the first four games of the season, but they got the job done.
Maryland struggled to execute at times on the offensive end, but guys like Jalen Smith, Eric Ayala and Ricky Lindo Jr. were able to pick up the slack for some of their teammates who were struggling and got the job done.
Defensively, the Terps struggled to defend the three point shot, but were able to force 16 turnovers and turn a lot of those into easy points on the other end, which was a big factor in the win.
Here are some of the standout plays from the game.
Jalen Smith got it done on both ends of the floor
One of Smith’s best qualities as a big is the ability to rebound, particularly on the offensive glass. This play was one of Smith’s three offensive rebounds from the game, and he is able to make the most of it with a quick putback.
Smith does a good job of recovering from the initial tip-in attempt that he missed by taking a split second to realize the size advantage he has over his opponent and make sure the second attempt goes in.
This sequence was certainly the play of the game for Smith, and maybe the play of the young season thus far for him. Smith gets a massive block, swats it out to Anthony Cowan Jr. in transition and then finishes Cowan’s missed layup with a huge putback dunk.
Maryland has done a really solid job so far this season of creating points off of good defense on the other end, and this was a perfect example of it. The Terps created points off of strong defense all game long and that was a key aspect of them being able to keep the margin of victory large, even with some key players having off nights.
Smith — who had two blocks for the game — is now averaging 2.5 blocks per contest, which leads the team and is tied for sixth overall in the Big Ten.
This play was a great play call by Turgeon. After coming out of the gates a bit sluggish to start the second half, the Terps finally got the lead back to where it was to start the half and never looked back.
After Lindo gives the ball to Hakim Hart, Aaron Wiggins and Ayala run a fake off ball back screen to throw off the defense, which allows Smith to sneak past the confused Fairfield defender for the easy alley-oop.
Also, credit to Wiggins for setting what looks to be a screen on Smith’s man to ensure his teammate would be matched up with a guard in the post to complete the easy alley-oop.
The last aspect of Smith’s game that really stood out against Fairfield was his touch from the free throw line. A 65.8 percent free throw shooter last season and 70 percent so far this season, Smith has really struggled at times from the line.
In this game however, he shot 7-for-9 from the charity stripe. As a player that finds himself at the line quite often, if Smith can get his shooting a bit better from that area, it could be a massive game changer for the star big man — as it was for Bruno Fernando last season.
Other standout plays
This play by Wiggins early in the first half was easily the play of the game. He jumps in the passing lane, picks off the pass and then finishes a ferocious slam despite a lot of contact.
Wiggins struggled quite a bit offensively in this game, and this was one of the few bright spots for him. The play was also another example of great defense leading to easy buckets on the other end. Wiggins has been a pest all season long, giving opposing offenses fits. The North Carolina native is averaging 2.8 steals per game, which leads the team and is second in the Big Ten.
Plays like this are what makes Cowan such a special player and one of the best point guards in the country. The senior guard drives to the hoop, senses the help defense coming and the lane clogging up with defenders, and then finds Wiggins for a wide open three-pointer.
Cowan finished the game with a team high five assists and is now averaging 5.5 assists on the season, which is a career high — although it is only through four games. With the best supporting cast he’s had in his four years with the Terps, it seems Cowan has put a greater emphasis on this aspect of his game.
While this was just a simple layup after a nice feed from Darryl Morsell, it was two of a career high 13 points for Lindo. The sophomore forward has played inconsistent minutes throughout the first four games, but this was certainly his breakout performance thus far.
Lindo did everything right in this game. He was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and also grabbed seven rebounds. The Terps dominated the glass throughout and Lindo was a big reason why. The sophomore is still a bit raw, but more games like this will certainly solidify his spot in the regular rotation.
Ayala was strong once again for the Terps in a game where his offense was very much needed. In this instance, Turgeon drew up a simple, yet extremely effective play for the sophomore guard. Ayala cuts to the basket and swings around to the three-point line after a screen by Makhi Mitchell to convert the three pointer with just enough space before the defense recovered.
This hoop was also a timely bucket as the Terps had struggled to start the second half offensively. Ayala finished the game with 13 points and was a strong 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. The Delaware native currently sits at 27.8 percent from deep in 2019-20, but that number should continue to go up as the season progresses.
This turnover early in the second half was not what the Terps were looking for, and one of the many mistakes the team made at the start of the half. Maryland had just played great defense and forced a Fairfield turnover, only to give the ball right back its opponent seconds later.
Smith does a poor job of reading what the Fairfield defender was trying to do as he clearly telegraphed that the pass in transition and knew it was going to go to Ayala. Smith should have kept dribbling and pushing the ball up while waiting for Wiggins to recover to find him for a chance at a layup in transition. This play was a part of a few sequences where the Terps really struggled in transition and turned the ball over or took a bad shot. That is something that definitely will be crucial to improve as competition intensifies.