COLLEGE PARK, Md. – After opening the season against defending national champion and third-ranked Kentucky at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., Maryland opens the home portion of its schedule against Morehead State Monday night in Comcast Center. The game will be broadcast on the Regional Sports Network and can be seen locally on Comcast SportsNet.
• The Terps nearly knocked off Kentucky, rallying from a 15-point deficit to take a lead in the second half, before the Wildcats held on for a 72-69 win. Alex Len had the best game of his career, pouring in 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds and four blocks. Nick Faust added 11 points and Brooklyn native James Padgett had 10.
• Maryland returns four key players from last season’s 17-15 squad: in addition to Len, Faust and Padgett, Pe’Shon Howard, Maryland’s active career leader in assists, also returns. A freshman class that was ranked in the top 20 nationally gives Maryland depth and talent. Charles Mitchell had 10 rebounds in just 16 minutes against UK and Seth Allen played 25 minutes off the bench.
• Maryland also added two transfers who are eligible to play immediately in Dez Wells and Logan Aronhalt. Wells averaged 9.8 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game for Xavier last year. Aronhalt is a proven scorer that netted 1,100 points in his career at Albany.
• Faust, a sophomore, is Maryland’s leading returning scorer. A member of the ACC All-Freshman Team a year ago, Faust averaged 8.9 points per game and was at his best at the end of the season, averaging 13.4 points per game over the final nine contests. Padgett, meanwhile, nearly tripled both his scoring (3.3 to 8.8 ppg) and rebounding (1.9 to 5.8 rpg) averages from his sophomore to junior seasons.
On Home Openers
• Maryland has won 34 consecutive home openers, with the last loss in a home opener in an 80-79 overtime defeat to Notre Dame on 11/27/1976… Maryland is 74-17 (.813) all-time in home openers in College Park.
• Maryland defeated UNC Wilmington 71-62 in last year’s home/regular season opener. Among returning players, James Padgett led the way with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting, along with seven rebounds
• Head coach Mark Turgeon and his staff signed a consensus top-20 recruiting class this season with freshmen Seth Allen, Shaquille Cleare, Jake Layman and Charles Mitchell.
The influx of talent gives Maryland the opportunity to extend a streak of being recognized for having talented young players in the program – for three years in a row, a Terp has been on the ACC All-Freshman Team. Prior to Nick Faust last year, Terrell Stoglin was honored in 2011 and Jordan Williams was honored in 2010.
Taking on the Defending Champ
It’s been a while since Maryland played its regular-season opener against the defending national champion – almost 29 years, in fact. The Terps last opened the season against the defending title holder on Sunday, Dec. 2, 1973, when they played UCLA. At that time, the Bruins had captured seven straight national championships and were in the midst of a 76-game winning streak. Maryland, coached by Lefty Driesell, fell to the Bruins 65-64 at Pauley Pavilion.
From the Washington Post’s recap of the game:
“Defending national champion UCLA needed a turnover forced by Bill Walton in the final seconds to survive a 65-64 thriller over Maryland tonight in Pauley Pavilion.
The Terrapins, who trailed by as many as 12 points earlier in the second half, had an opportunity to break the Bruins’ winning streak at 76 games after UCLA freshman Richard Washington, reputed to be last year’s best high school player, missed a foul shot with 22 seconds left. Tom McMillen grabbed the rebound.
After a time out, point guard John Lucas was forced into the right corner, where he was double-teamed. Walton batted the ball out of his hands and toward center court. Bruin teammate Tommy Curtis picked up the ball and was driving toward the Maryland basket when time ran out.”
Maryland went on to finish the season 23-5 and ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press poll. Before advancing to the National Semifinals later that year, UCLA had its winning streak snapped at 88 games in a loss to Notre Dame.