TSR Previews the Terps-Spartans matchup, the first of 5 home games for Maryland.
By Sam Spiegelman
UNC Greensboro (0-7, 0-2 Southern Conference)
Maryland Terrapins (6-3, 0-0 ACC)
Wed., Dec. 8
7:30 p.m., Comcast Center, College Park, M.D.
In last year's matchup between the two teams, the Terps demolished the Spartans 97-63 led by seniors Greivis Vasquez's 24 points and Landon Milbourne's 22 points. Off the bench, Adrian Bowie and Dino Gregory contributed 11 points. The Terps shot nearly 55 percent on the night, leading to an 18-point lead at the half. Maryland's defensive showed up in a big way, limiting the Spartans to 27 percent shooting from the field and just 16 percent from downtown.
The Spartans and Terrapins have met just twice, with Maryland winning both games at the Comcast Center. The first meeting came in 2003, when the No. 24 Terrapins defeated the Spartans 85-58 en route to a three-game winning streak. It was the 100th win for head coach Gary Williams, and solidified a 96-1 home record versus non-conference foes. In the game, Nik Caner-Medley led the team with 19 points, five rebounds and four dimes.
UNC Greensboro was predicted to finish fourth in the Southern Conference by the league's coached behind the likes of Appalachian State, Wofford, Western Carolina and the College of Charleston, who the team narrowly escaped with a victory earlier this season.
The Spartans return 2009-2010 All-Freshman selection Kyle Randall. In his sophomore season, the guard is averaging over 11 points per game and is shooting almost 39 percent from three-point range. Other returning players include sophomore guard Korey Van dussen, sophomore forward Brian Cole, senior guard Brandon Evans and junior forward Elhanan Bone.
Among the seven newcomers to the team - Taylor Hoffer, David Williams, Isaac Swindell, Drew Parker, Kendall Bethea and Trevis Simpson - the most productive is 6-10 junior Aloysius Henry. The forward leads the Spartans in scoring this season after helping Three Rivers Community College to the NJCAA national title game in 2009 when they fell to Howard College in overtime. In 2010 for UNC Greensboro, Henry is averaging 12 points, six boards and shooting over 53 percent from the field.
Three-point range - The Spartans have shot over 35 percent from downtown this season, led by the spot-on shooting of Brandon Evans (55%), Korey Van dussen (42.1%) and Kyle Randall (38.9%). They sport the fifth-best three-point percentage in the Southern Conference.
Offensive Boards have not been a problem for the Spartans this year. The team is averaging almost 14 offensive rebounds per game, compared to their 20.1 defensive rebound average. In the frontcourt, there is no shortage of height; the three rebounding leaders - Aloysius Henry, David Williams and Aaron Bracket - average 6-8. Henry has recorded 13 offensive boards (39 total), followed by Williams (14, 32 total) and Brackett (10, 27 total).
Turnovers - Leading the team in turnovers in 2010 is freshman David Williams, who sports an unimpressive 2-to-1 turnover-to-assist ratio. UNC Greensboro ranked dead last in the Southern Conference in their assist-turnover ratio at .6, averaging nearly 19 turnovers per game.
Defensively, UNC Greensboro is struggling to stop their opponent. No opponent has failed to score at least 81 points on the Spartans this season, and they are averaging almost 90 points per contest. In the conference, the team ranks at the bottom in scoring defense (98.4 ppg), three-point defense (43%) and field goal percentage defense (52%).
Matching up with the Terps
The Spartans are winless thus far in 2010, and have fallen by significant margins to both Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. In their season-opener with Florida State, the Spartans lost 97-73, allowing Seminoles forward Chris Singleton to record his first career triple-double. The Noles outrebounded the Spartans, outshot the Spartans and shined defensively with 20 steals and 11 blocks.
Against then-No.22 Virginia Tech, the Spartans shot an impressive 56 percent from the field, but turned the ball over 29 times, allowing the Hokies to cruise to a 92-70 victory. The 29 turnovers matched the school-record set in 1999. Once again, the team allowed their ACC foe to win the battle on the boards and capitalize defensively, essentially handing them the win.
Maryland and UNC Greensboro prove to be similar statistically. The Terps: 76 ppg, 48 percent FG%, 64 percent FT-% -- the Spartans: 70 ppg, 42 percent FG-%, 66 percent FT-%. What this matchup may come down to is the Terps can hit open shots on this porous Spartans defense.
Keys to the Game
Let Cliff Tucker shoot the ball. Tucker has proven a capable scorer from distance this year, but has shied away from it over the past few contests. In 13 minutes against Temple, Tucker attempted just three shots, zero from the three-point line. Tucker is the Terrapins' best option at the three, and he needs more minutes and shots to get on a streak.
It is time to shift control. Adrian Bowie's up and down season continued at point guard as he went scoreless at the BB&T Classic with just one dime and one rebound. Bowie's minutes are diminishing, but he was still in at crunch time. With the game on the line, there is no reason for Bowie's 23-percent three-point shooting to be on the court.
Play like you mean it. Against Temple, the Terps looked lethargic at times. Careless turnovers, poor offensive plays and little effort on the boards plagued the team Sunday night when Temple was able to create a double-digit deficit before Maryland woke up. The second half effort by the Terps, however, should be some consolation and fuel that this team can contend with the nation's best.
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: Terrapins Sports Radio Network