New season, same old Maryland.
The Terps outscored Penn State 25-6 in the final 6:30 of their Big Ten opener on Wednesday night as the No. 4 team in the country erased a 13-point second half deficit, winning 70-64.
Diamond Stone was the savior for Mark Turgeon and company. He scored 32 of his career-high 39 points in the second half, adding 12 boards — eight of which were offensive — and two blocks. He was 10-for-15 from the floor and got to the free throw line 25 times in large part because he was just too big and too strong for anyone on Penn State’s front line.
The Comcast Center crowd was not as loud or as raucous as usual — that’s what happens with these pre-New Year’s Eve games — and when you throw in the weird weekday start time, it would make some sense that Maryland would show up out of sync. They shot 25.0 percent in the first half and, outside of a 10-0 run to start the second half, looked downright awful for much of the first 33:30, when they were down 58-45.
It’s not a stretch to say that Stone is the only reason they were in this game, the only reason that they were able to make that late run.
Not only did he score 32 second half points, but he scored 23 of Maryland’s first 29 points after the break. Melo Trimble, who finished with 10 points and six assists, made the biggest plays in the final minutes, hitting a pair of big threes and notching a couple of critical assists, but he was largely irrelevant, finishing 3-for-15 from the floor. Rasheed Sulaimon and Jared Nickens were both 0-for-5 from the field. Jake Layman at least had a pair of buckets for the Terps.
This was the blueprint for Maryland games last season.
Struggle in the first half, look unimpressive for stretches of the second half, makes the plays they need to make in crunch-time to get the win. That’s why their computer rankings were never as impressive as their actual rankings.
That’s a habit that they’re going to want to break.