EVANSTON, Ill. – Maryland hits the road for the first time in the 2012-13 season when it takes on Northwestern as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Tuesday night in Evanston, Ill. Following a season-opening, 72-69 loss to then-No. 3 Kentucky in the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y., the Terps have reeled off four straight wins in which they have won by an average margin of 16.3 points per game.
• The Terps are 9-4 all-time in the Challenge, though a 71-62 loss to Illinois last season snapped a six-game winning streak in the Challenge. Tuesday will mark the first meeting between Maryland and Northwestern in the Challenge and just the second all-time; the only other meeting was a 66-62 Northwestern win in 1958.
• Depth has been a luxury for Maryland in its first five games, as nine players are averaging double-figure minutes. Five players scored in double figures in each of the last two games, and Alex Len, Nick Faust, Dez Wells and James Padgett are averaging at least 9.0 points per game. Len is Maryland’s most consistent scorer with a 15.6 average that is tied for 10th in the ACC.
• Against Georgia Southern, Charles Mitchell, who has been a force on the boards, recorded his first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Mitchell (7.8 rpg) and Len (8.2 rpg) have led Maryland to a plus-15.2 rebound margin that is the best in the conference. No other team is outrebounding the opponent by a double-figure margin.
• Pe’Shon Howard, Maryland’s active career leader in assists (193), has been a solid distributor with his 7.0 assists per game leading the league. As a team, Maryland is averaging 19.4 assists per game, which also leads the league. In the four-game winning streak, the Terps have assisted on 80 of 114 field goals (70.2 percent).
• The Terps have made more free throws than the opponent attempted this season (79 to 64). The biggest margins are against Morehead State, when the Terps made 17 and the Eagles attempted 8, and against Lafayette, when Maryland made 22 and Lafayette attempted 7.
• At least nine players have scored in each of the last four games, and at least five players have scored in double figures in each of the last two games.
• Nine players have received at least 10 minutes of playing time for four straight games, and nine players are averaging double-figure minutes.
• Maryland’s 22-point margin of victory over Morehead State matched its largest in all of last season (vs. Samford).
• Since being outscored by Kentucky’s bench in the season opener, the Maryland bench has outscored its opponents 124-35 over the past four contests. In those four games, the biggest contributors have been Seth Allen (8.3 ppg), Charles Mitchell (7.3 ppg) and Shaquille Cleare (7.3 ppg).
• Most recently, Mitchell added 13 off the bench, Logan Aronhalt had 12 on 4-of-4 3-point shooting, and Cleare had 10 vs. Georgia Southern.
Low Post Threat
• After averaging 6.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game as a freshman, Alex Len has developed into Maryland’s most consistent scoring threat as a sophomore. Len is averaging 15.6 points per game, which ranks first in the ACC among centers and tied for 10th overall. His 8.2 rebounds per game rank ninth. Len also leads the league with 2.6 blocks per game.
Force on the Boards
• Maryland leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in rebounding margin at plus-15.2 per game, the only school averaging a double-figure margin. North Carolina is second at plus-9.2.
• The Terps have built advantages on the boards in all five games this season. Maryland outrebounded Kentucky 54-38, a plus-16 margin that marks the schools best performance against a ranked team since outrebounding No. 10 Wake Forest by a plus-20 margin on Feb. 17, 2003.
• Their largest margin on the boards was plus-24 vs. Georgia Southern (49-25). Alex Len and Charles Mitchell are the biggest factors in that; Len averages 8.2 rpg and Mitchell averages 7.8.
• Len ranks fourth in the conference with 3.4 offensive rebounds per game, and Mitchell is tied for sixth with 3.2 per game. As a team, the Terps are averaging 18.0 offensive rebounds per game, second in the league behind North Carolina (18.3).
• Mitchell made an impressive debut by grabbing 10 rebounds in his first career game, against No. 3 Kentucky. That’s the most rebounds by a Maryland freshman in his debut since Buck Williams had 13 against Bucknell in 1978. Williams went on to lead the ACC in rebounding that year (10.8 pg) en route to capturing ACC Rookie of the Year honors.
• Two of the better rebounders in recent memory, Joe Smith and Jordan Williams, didn’t reach double-digit boards until their third and fourth games, respectively.