Throughout guard Anthony Cowan’s freshman campaign, coach Mark Turgeon lauded his speed and ability to set the pace for Maryland men’s basketball’s offense, once saying Cowan was probably the quickest player in the Big Ten.
But in his second game running the offense by himself after guard Melo Trimble’s offseason departure, Cowan looked faster and more comfortable than he ever has in a Terps uniform. The sophomore recorded 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals to lead Maryland to a 96-43 win over Maryland Eastern Shore in the Terps’ home opener.
The victory was Maryland’s largest since its 106-52 win over Longwood on Feb. 9, 2011.
“Of course I’m teasing him because he had zero assists,” Turgeon said. “He’s just so much more comfortable in everything that he’s doing. He’s really trying to be an extension of me as far as learning what calls we want to run and how we want to run.”
While Cowan helped Maryland gain a large lead, guard Dion Wiley started Maryland’s offensive barrage. Wiley, who entered College Park as a four-star recruit, battled injuries the past two seasons, redshirting his second year and averaging 3.2 points over 20 games last season.
Turgeon said Wiley is healthy, though, and the redshirt junior has looked it this season as the first guard off Maryland’s bench in both of its games. The Oxon Hill native scored the Terps’ first six points with a pair of 3-pointers, tying his season-high from last season with 13 points.
Guards Jared Nickens (15), Darryl Morsell (12) and Kevin Huerter (10) also scored in double figures.
Wiley said Maryland is pushing its pace because of the athleticism up and down its roster.
“It’s really fun because we get a lot of wide-open threes, a lot of layups in transition,” Wiley said, “especially playing with [Cowan] and Kevin.”
With the Terps (2-0) leading by 10 with just over nine minutes remaining in the first half, Cowan helped Maryland pull away. After knocking down a pair of free throws, the six-foot, 170-pound guard pulled down a rebound and finished a coast-to-coast layup.
About four minutes later, Cowan sprinted down the baseline and completed a reverse layup over a defender.
When Cowan wasn’t scoring, he pushed the pace of the Terps offense, creating opportunities on the perimeter by drawing defenders on his drives. Maryland shot 61 percent from the field.
Cowan also dominated the defensive boards, once drawing over-the-back fouls on consecutive Hawks (1-1) possessions. Maryland, which averaged the fourth-fewest rebounds in the Big Ten last season, outrebounded Maryland Eastern Shore, 46-21.
“The point guard never really has anybody to box out because the point guard is always getting back on defense, so Anthony is just going and rebounding, which is what he should do,” Turgeon said. “If you’ve watched my teams over the years … my point guard was always a good rebounder for us. Melo would have some big games doing it for us.”
After opening the second half with four points, Cowan let others set the tone. Nickens, who played just five minutes in Maryland’s season-opening win over Stony Brook on Friday, shot 4-for-4 from beyond the arc.
While Cowan has shot 0-for-5 this year on threes — an aspect Cowan said he improved this offseason — the Bowie native has left little question he’s ready to orchestrate Maryland’s offense as the team’s leading scorer from the past three seasons pursues the NBA.
“We just all have to read off [Cowan],” Nickens said. “If you’re going too slow, it’s gonna mess up the offense a little bit, so we just try to keep up with him, and it works out a lot.”