Terps Defense Struggles in Loss to Virginia

Maryland allows Virginia to shoot 54.2% from field and 57.8% from beyond the arc

A game in which the Terps sported gold uniforms and the fans wore gold t-shirts, Maryland's play on the court was anything but golden. Fresh off their first conference win of the year, the Terps knew the importance of their game against Virginia, Sunday. The Cavaliers shot 54.2 percent from the field on their way to an 80-69 win in College Park.

It was an underwhelming defensive display from the Terps, who allowed an opponent to shoot over 50 percent from the field for the second time this season (Duke). Coach Mark Turgeon didn't think all the blame was on his defense.

“I thought Virginia was great from start to finish,” said a clearly disappointed Turgeon after the game. “I though it was their day. They had a lot to do with making it their day - every loose ball, every 50/50 play. We seemed a little lethargic. We seemed a half step slow from the beginning. We never stopped competing. We tried hard we just couldn't guard them.”

Maryland had a clear size advantage on the Cavaliers, but they just weren't able to exploit it. Sophomore Alex Len was five inches taller than anyone guarding him today, but was a non-factor for most of the game. Len was only able to pull in seven rebounds. He now has single-digit rebounds in four straight games.

“I didn't think he was very good the first half, or the start of the second half,” said Turgeon. “The physicality got to him, He had to chase around Justin Anderson and that wasn't fair to him.”

“They were doubling Alex,” said Sophomore Nick Faust. “It was tough on us and it was tough on him. He had a hard time getting the ball in the double team. Virginia just did a good job executing defensively.”

Len wasn't the only Terp who struggled grabbing rebounds. Maryland's other big men (James Padgett, Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell) combined for a total of four rebounds. For the first time this season the Terps lost the rebounding battle (34-29).

“I thought we were a half step slow; I thought they were real physical,” Turgeon said. “They held their box outs. We didn't handle the physicality early very well. It was their day, it definitely wasn't ours.”

Sophomore Dez Wells led the Terps with 13 points. Freshman Seth Allen was very vocal in the second half and scored seven of his 11 points after halftime. Len scored nine points to go along with his seven rebounds. Senior Logan Aronhalt connected on two of his four three-pointers and scored nine points. Sophomore Nick Faust scored eight points for the Terps.

It seemed like every time Maryland would go on a run to make the game interesting, Virginia would respond with a couple of big shots. Virginia Freshman Justin Anderson, who committed to Maryland when Gary Williams was still coaching, helped put Virginia in front early on. Anderson, who was booed by the Maryland student section nearly every time he touched the ball, played with ferocity in the first half. He scored 14 of his 17 points before halftime.

“He played an amazing game today,” said Faust. “I've never seen him make so many shots ever in my life. He played a great game. He was hitting jump shots and attacking very strong.”

Joe Harris led the Cavaliers with 22 points, making seven of his eight shots. Akil Mitchell scored 13 points and Paul Jesperson made a four of this three-pointers, scoring 12 points.

With the loss, the Terps fall to 17-7 on the season and 5-6 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Virginia improves to 17-6 overall and 7-3 in the ACC. The Terps will have six days off before their rematch with Duke on Saturday. Tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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