Maryland men’s basketball has put together its most complete effort yet under a new head coach Kevin Willard Tuesday Night, Binghamton Dispatch, 76-52. Terps put cruise control on in the second half, and was never in any danger.
But Willard wasn’t happy with the way Maryland wrapped up the win. Binghamton beat Maryland 26-16, both teams 16 points in the paint in the second half. An 8-0 run by the Bearcats with a number of Maryland bench players on the floor evaporated the Terps’ 32-point lead to a 24-point victory.
“Honestly, I’m not happy about it,” Willard said. “We should have had one 34 on Thursday, we should have at least a 35-point win today. I don’t like the way we finished. So if we don’t start to finish them better, they won’t get the chance. Because stats matter. You’ll all see Your KenPom goes down. NET goes down. I mean the last four minutes are just as important as the first four minutes. And these guys work hard and they’re good players. There’s no reason to blow a 34-point lead in the last four minutes of a game. So there’s responsibility when You step into court. You have to do what you’re supposed to do.”
The Terps finished with a plus8 turnover margin and also outscored the Bearcats on the boards, 42-38, for control from the start. Nine different players scored for Maryland, including eight in the first half alone, leading the team Julian Reese (19), Sage Hart (13) and Donta Scott (10).
“They just won at Marist. Winning on the road in college basketball is really hard,” Willard said. “I don’t care what the competition is, who you play. Winning on the road is hard. So we wanted to make sure we came out so strong that they knew they weren’t going to win. And I think that was our way of thinking that we wanted to set the tone so early on that you wouldn’t be doing what you just did three days ago.”
Maryland started quickly, scoring its first eight points of the game, including two early baskets by Reese. Strong defense and speed, key features of Willard’s system, resulted in the Terps taking a 31-8 lead through just 14 minutes into the game.
Willard and his crew rolled off the bench early in the game, showing team depth with three key catches from rookie Noah Bachelor and a pair of fast buckets from Ike Cornish That forced the Bearcats into a timeout with three minutes left in that half.
Left handed tomahawk jam than Julian Reese He stamped out a strong first half that ended with Maryland leading 44-23. He scored eight different soils in the first 20 minutes, led by Hakeem Hart with 13 and Reese with 10.Maryland is turning its focus to the 2022 Basketball Hall of Fame, with the Terps facing St. Louis on Saturday at 1 p.m. and playing either Providence or Miami on Sunday. With three games under their belt and a few days to train and regroup, the players are starting to feel confident.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve all been there,” Scott said, “but every day we get better and better every day with the things he’s trying to instill in us and trying to put it into practice.” “We all kind of stick to what he has in store for us and nobody really resisted on any of the things we were doing. Everyone was kind of bought into it, like all the things he was trying to get us to do like load up our press, be more physical and active and everybody buys into it.”
As for the importance of starting with three home wins before this weekend’s games and the next stretch to Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee and UCLA, Willard has kept it short and simple; “It’s better than being 0-3.”