BROOKLYN, Ny. (WUSA) -- In the first half of Friday night's game, I declared on twitter that the defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats had already beaten the Maryland Terps. That's because the John Calipari led Wildcat's opened up a 10-2 run and Terps were facing a 12 point deficit.
Yes, the game was still within reach but at that point only two guys really came to play. Alex Len was dominating the number one recruit in the nation, Nerlens Noel, and Charles Mitchell was an impacting rebounder in his limited minutes. As the game went on, both men continued to contribute and the rest of the team eventually followed. Even though, they came out of halftime with a 15-4 run, they fell one missed jumper short of victory.
Nonetheless, the fan base in College Park is now excited about this team's potential. Before you go rushing to buy your season tickets, lets examine the good and bad things came out of Friday's prime time matchup.
Good: Alex Len. This was the center I was expecting to see last week in the scrimmage against IUP. He finished Friday's game with 23 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks. Kentucky did not have an answer on how to slow him down. If he can consistently play this well throughout the season, the Maryland will challenge for the ACC Championship -- and then some.
Bad: Jump shooting. The Terps finished the game shooting 33% from the field and 16% from behind the arc. Len's 55% of shooting from the field actually inflates that stat. It was not just the ill-advised shots that the Wildcats swatted away, but the open jumpers, as well. Some shots, and this being modest, did not even hit the rim. I'll chalk it up to the nerves, but that excuse is already getting old.
Good: Charles Mitchell, Seth Allen, and Jake Layman. Each one of these freshman did their part in the comeback effort. Every time I've spoken to Mitchell, rebounding is always the topic of discussion. He did a lot of it on Friday. He finished the game with 10 boards.
Allen and Layman combined for a mere nine points, but they were the biggest buckets of the night. Until Layman hit his only bucket of the game, the Terps were 0-14 from three point land. His triple made it a two point game. A few minutes later, Allen would add back to back treys to give Maryland their first lead. He would also add three rebounds and five assists before the night was over.
Bad: Nick Faust, Dez Wells, and Shaq Cleare. With all the hype surrounding these three player this off-season, you'd think they'd have a bigger impact. Shaq only played seven minutes. In that time, recorded a dunk and turnover. The best wingmen on the team, Wells and Faust, shot a combined 6 of 27 from the field. At least they remained aggressive.
Good: Rebounding and team hustle. Maryland crashed the boards and dove for every loose ball during the game and it was the biggest difference in the second half. They finally began to translate points from those second half chances and that's what closed the gap. They won the rebounding advantage 46-34, including a 23-12 offensive rebounding difference.
Bad: Pe'shon Howard. I like Pe'shon but he may have lost his starting job to Allen. He shot 1-8 on the night, but that was excusable because no one made baskets. What's inexcusable is for him to take too long to get the ball up court, run into a defender, never pass the ball to his wide open teammates, and then hoist up a shot that won't win you the game even if goes in. It was a bad sequence of events. He does not need the ball in his hands during crucial periods in the game. Period.
Good: New found confidence. Head coach Mark Turgeon and some critics have chalked up the Terps bad play to nerves. After losing a nail biter on national television, throw that excuse out the door. These kids can play. Now we know it and more importantly, they do too. Can't wait to see how Maryland plays with a pep in their step.