What's behind Nick Faust's big 3-game stretch for Maryland?

What's behind Nick Faust's big 3-game stretch for Maryland?
January 5, 2014, 1:30 pm
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(Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)

Nick Faust was feeling good, looking relaxed after his team’s New Year’s Eve win over North Carolina Central. He had just registered a team-high 19 points while missing a double-double by just one rebound.

The bulk of ACC play was on the horizon less than a week later, beginning with Georgia Tech, and the only consistency Faust had been able to find to that point in the season was consistent inconsistency.

What was the key to keeping momentum like this going?

“Just playing with confidence,” Faust said. “Coach is always preaching about playing with confidence. He told me, you know, just stay locked in when coming off the bench.”

Faust came off the bench on Saturday against the Yellow Jackets and did it again, scoring 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting and adding three rebounds in a 77-61 blowout win at Comcast Center in College Park.

[RELATED: Recap of Maryland's 77-61 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday]

It caps the junior’s best three-game stretch of the season and an all-important three-game winning streak before Maryland travels to Pittsburgh to take on Jamie Dixon’s 11-1 Panthers on Monday.

Does the consistency come from within, like Faust alluded to after the NC Central game?

“Just try to do whatever I can to keep it going,” he said. “Keep my defensive pressure going and let it carry over to the offense.”

Defense usually forces run-outs, meaning Faust is in transition. Faust in a groove in transition means open threes are more likely to fall in the half-court. It’s all a cycle.

But is it a coincidence that Faust’s uptick has coincided with the return of sophomore guard Seth Allen from injury? Though Allen is admittedly not near 100 percent, he is eating minutes and taking shots that otherwise would have to be delegated elsewhere.

[RELATED VIDEO: Dez Wells throws down thunderous dunk vs. GT]

Through the season’s first 12 games, Faust averaged 29.5 minutes per game. Since Allen’s return, his minutes have been trimmed down to 23.7 per contest. The difference is, though, that his points per game and field goal percentage are up.

Faust averaged 9.0 points per game through 12 games. In the last three, he is averaging 16.0 per game. Field-goal percentage? Just 34 percent before. Over the last three games, he’s shooting 58 percent.

“I would say, you know, it’s definitely a pressure off having Seth back. He’s just another guard,” Faust said after the win over NC Central. “It gives us a lot of depth. A lot of guys can just play and did a great job of just playing their best.”