Well, Head Coach Mark Turgeon knew before the season that he had one starter set, and the rest was kind of up in the air. Alex Len was that starter, and tonight he showed why. Len finished the evening with 23 points, 12 rebound and four blocked shots against the number one recruit in the country, Nerlens Noel of Kentucky.
Len was the best player on the court, not just for the Terrapins, but overall on Friday night. Something scouts will definitely take notice of. After the game ‘Alex Len’ was trending on twitter nationwide, not an easy feat when two games have been canceled on air craft carriers and the varying political issues of the day.
Maryland came back from a 15-point deficit to start the second half, and fought valiantly despite a poor shooting night from everyone who didn’t have Len written on the back of their jersey. Len shot 10-for-18 from the field, while the rest of the team finished 15-for-57, an alarming 26.3% from the field. Maryland obviously has a lot to work on on the offensive end, but one thing Maryland won’t have to worry about is their offensive rebounding. Maryland finished with 23 offensive rebounds, and had two players finish with double-digit rebounders — Charles Mitchell was the other alongside Len.
Kentucky did what they had to win the game, and while they did let a 15-point lead slip away, they looked fairly dominant and the Kentucky of 2011-12 in the first half. Kyle Wiltjer, a forgotten man on Kentucky’s roster surrounded by all the highly-touted freshmen, was the leading scorer on Friday night for Kentucky with 19 points. Jarrod Polson was also clutch down the stretch for Coach Calipari.
Polson came out of no where to star for Kentucky on the evening. Coach Mark Turgeon joked after the game that he didn’t even know what year he was and didn’t scout him. Seth Allen played that part for Maryland, coming off the bench for 9 points and 5 assists with no turnovers.
Maryland fans will have hope to take from this game as they narrowly lost to the number three team in the country. Unfortunately, three point shooting doesn’t look like it has improved. Ball-handling has improved, but Maryland struggled to set up their offense, especially on their final possession when Pe’Shon Howard struggled to get a shot up in time despite having 7.7 seconds.
For more on the Terrapins follow Brendan Darr on twitter: @BrendanDarr