No. 23 Maryland will look to continue its red-hot start under first-year coach Kevin Willard when it hosts Coppin State on Friday at College Park, Md.
The undefeated Terrapins have won their five games by an average of 22.4 points after an 88-70 victory over Miami in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off championship game on Sunday at Uncasville, Conn.
“We have unbelievably high-character kids who want to win and they understand what it takes to win,” Willard said. “They’re bringing it every night and they’re getting rewarded.”
Led by Donta Scott’s game-high 24 points, all five of Terrapins starters scored in double figures, with Julian Reese adding 17 points, Hakim Hart 14, Jahmir Young 13 and Donald Carey 12.
The Terps went 30 for 50 (60 percent) from the field, including 9 for 21 (42.9 percent) from 3-point range, in addition to dominating the Hurricanes on the boards, 39-20.
“We’re becoming a very good offensive team,” Willard said. “We’re a little bit ahead (of expectations) but I’m excited about the fact that I see so many things we can get better at.”
Scott averages a team-high 16.8 points to go along with 6.8 rebounds, while Reese averages 13.2 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds per game. Hart averages 12.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, with Young chipping in 12.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
Coppin State (3-4) has dropped its past two games after winning three straight. The Eagles fell 86-67 at Marshall on Saturday before losing 83-67 on the road to fellow Baltimore-area school Towson on Tuesday.
Against Towson, Nendah Tarke had 20 points, five rebounds and four steals, while Sam Sessoms added 19 points and five assists and Kam’Ron Blue chipped in 12 points and five rebounds.
Coppin State coach Juan Dixon became a Terrapins legend after being named the 2002 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player as he led Maryland to its first national title. He will return to his alma mater for the first time as a head coach.
Dixon, who is Maryland’s all-time leading scorer with 2,269 career points, was a special assistant to then-coach Mark Turgeon from 2013-16.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have that game circled, so I’m excited about that opportunity and I look forward to going back home,” said Dixon, who is in his sixth season coaching the Eagles. “I’m not looking past any opponent, but come the day after Thanksgiving, our team will be prepared to play a high-level basketball game. It’s that simple.”
Sessoms averages a team-high 22.0 points and 5.7 assists per game, while Tarke averages 12.9 points and a team-high 5.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Justin Winston is the only other Eagles player who averages in double figures at 10.1 points to go with 3.6 rebounds per game.
The programs have only played each other once, with the Terrapins earning a 70-63 win in 1989.
–Field Level Media