Faust sparks 2nd-half rally in Maryland win over NC Central

Faust sparks 2nd-half rally in Maryland win over NC Central
December 31, 2013, 4:30 pm

Midnight Madness returns to Cole Field House

(Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)

COLLEGE PARK--On New Year’s Ever, coach Mark Turgeon put out on the floor a new Terrapins team, well at least another version of a starting five that has been continually shuffled as Maryland comes to the end of its non-conference schedule.

Junior Jonathan Graham started at center and Maryland overcame a slow first half to beat North Carolina Central, 70-56, on Tuesday afternoon at Comcast Center in College Park.

Nick Faust led the way with a season-high 19 points on just 11 shots and grabbed nine rebounds.

Read more analysis below.

FINAL

Maryland 70, North Carolina Central 56

ANNOUNCED ATTENDANCE

9,554

HEADLINES

NICK FAUST LEADS THE WAY

Nick Faust’s biggest knocks this season have been inconsistency and inefficiency. He was the opposite of both on Tuesday afternoon.

The junior from Baltimore scored 19 points on a solid 5-of-11 shooting night from the floor and grabbed nine rebounds.

JONATHAN GRAHAM GETS FIRST START

Still in search of consistency at the center position, coach Mark Turgeon started junior Jonathan Graham at the five. He was not electric, but no Maryland center has been this season.

The offense ran through him on the game’s first few possessions, though he was unable to convert. Despite that, it was the first time this year that there has been a concerted effort to work the ball inside for points and the first time that there were at least opportunities to convert.

Graham finished with six points on 3-of-6 shooting and grabbed three rebounds

SETH ALLEN STILL HAS ROOM TO IMPROVE

Perhaps unfairly, Maryland’s struggles and the fact that Allen was out with injury allowed a legend to take root. If only Seth Allen were here, Maryland would be winning.

That narrative grew expectations and essentially dubbed him as the savior and the cure for all ills in College Park. Allen played very well in his debut against Tulsa, scoring 15 points in 21 minutes, only helping to push that narrative forward.

But Tuesday proved that it will still take time for Allen to get back to full strength. He turned the ball over twice and did not score in the first half, coming off the bench to begin the game.

He started the second half and hit two three-pointers to help the offense get back into a groove in the second half and spark a run to begin to pull away.

He will help. He has improved since last season and, if what Turgeon said before his injury is to be believed, there’s even more room for growth. But the more steadily he is brought along, the better he will be down the stretch for Maryland.

He finished with six points on 2-of-6 shooting and added four assists.

NATION’S NO. 3 SCORER HELD IN CHECK

Jeremy Ingram was Maryland’s No. 1 priority on the defensive end of the floor on Tuesday. Ingram, a senior, came into the game as the nation’s third-leading scorer at 24.3 points per game. But Maryland kept him in check as he went just 4-of-19 from the floor for 11 points.

FREE THROW SHOOTING MUCH IMPROVED…

Maryland came into the game ranked 316th out of 351 teams in the country in free throw percentage at 63.8 percent. Because some things just don’t make any sense, the Terrapins sunk 18-of-22 shots from the line on Tuesday afternoon.

Evan Smotrycz, Nick Faust, Roddy Peters, and Jake Layman were all perfect from the stripe while hitting at least three shots.

...BUT TURNOVERS STILL A PROBLEM

North Carolina Central’s poor shooting percentage masked the problem, but Maryland struggled again to control the basketball. The Terrapins coughed it up 11 times in the first half and finished with 16 on the afternoon.