Something needed to change — for Maryland men’s basketball, for guard Aaron Wiggins — after that 18-point loss to Iowa on Jan. 10. In that lopsided defeat at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Wiggins played 17 minutes and was held scoreless for the first time in his Terps career.
So that next game against Wisconsin, coach Mark Turgeon swapped Wiggins out of the starting lineup for guard Eric Ayala. And all these weeks later, that rotation has stuck.
Wiggins still plays starting minutes, however, averaging over 28 each contest. And he’s still as big a part of Maryland’s offensive production as he was when he took the floor at tip-off. So after a regular season in which the sophomore averaged 10.4 points per game, the Big Ten conference announced Wiggins as the sixth man of the year.
[Read more: Aaron Wiggins is back in form for Maryland basketball since coming off the bench]
After managing just four points in losses to Michigan State and Rutgers — going a combined 0-for-8 from beyond the arc in those matchups — Wiggins rediscovered his touch on Sunday, helping lead the Terps to a Big Ten regular-season title.
He knocked down three long-range efforts and hit six of his eight overall attempts to finish with 15 points.
Wiggins hit a season-high six triples in another loss to Ohio State, supplementing much of Maryland’s offensive while forward Jalen Smith and guard Anthony Cowan faced foul trouble and off shooting days. And Wiggins had a three-game stretch immediately after his move to the bench in which the Greensboro, North Carolina, native reached double-figures.
In some ways, Wiggins has faced some regression during his second campaign in College Park. He’s hitting 31.7 percent of his 3-pointers compared to 41.3 percent of them last year, for instance.
But his minutes and scoring are up, and his teammates see him as a key piece off the bench to provide energy on defense, too. So his contributions off the bench since that Iowa defeat have been a key piece in the way Maryland went 24-7 en route to a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.