When Maryland men’s basketball battled Penn State last Wednesday, a two-man show of Jahmir Young and Julian Reese carried the offensive load as the rest of the team failed to provide much support.
It was one of many growing themes for the Terps, who also entered Tuesday night with the second-lowest three-point percentage of all Division I teams. But against the Braves on Tuesday, the two areas that showcased some of their biggest struggles turned into strengths.
Maryland shot 14-for-30 from three and eight players scored at least eight points in a 105-65 blowout victory over Alcorn State. The Terps scored their most points in a game since 2011 and notched their second 100-point outing of the year, as the 2023-24 squad became the first since 2010-11 to reach triple-digits multiple times in a season.
Reese and Young led Maryland (6-4) with 15 and 13 points respectively, but DeShawn Harris-Smith, Jordan Geronimo and Jamie Kaiser Jr. each finished with 12.
“Being at home and getting in a rhythm, I knew it was only a matter of time until we started shooting the ball better,” Willard said after the Terps’ fifth home game in six contests, following three straight games away from Xfinity Center. “The way the season started, it just wasn’t a good start for young guys to get into a rhythm.”
The Braves (1-9), who haven’t beaten a Division I opponent this year, hung with Maryland for most of the first half and trailed by just three about nine minutes into the game.
Alcorn State and Maryland traded buckets as coach Kevin Willard’s squad struggled to open up a definitive lead for most of the opening 20 minutes. The Terps closed the half on a strong note, though, making four of their last five shots to enter halftime with a 47-33 advantage.
Seven Terps recorded at least five points in the first half as Maryland’s balanced attack eventually supplied a sizable advantage. Kaiser led the team with nine points at the break, just one point shy of his previous career high. He surpassed that with a 12-point outing on 3-for-7 shooting from deep Tuesday.
Kaiser and sophomore Noah Batchelor each sank a pair of threes in the half as Maryland shot 6-for-15 from beyond the arc.
Maryland’s 22.4 three-point percentage entering the night ranked No. 361 out of 362 Division I teams, with Houston Christian being the lone program with a worse rate. The mark was nearly five percent lower than the next-worst high-major squad.
That strong shooting carried into the second half, where the Terps shot 57.7 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from deep. They finished with a season-high three-point percentage of 46.7 on a season-best 14 three-pointers, which contributed to a bundle of assists. Maryland finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio of more than one for the second time this season and notched a season-high 20 assists Tuesday.
“[It was] definitely one of the best games we’ve shared the ball,” Young said. “[We were] just trying to get the best shot possible. We knew we could get anything we wanted. We don’t have any selfish guys on the team so everybody was just moving the ball side to side till one of us was free.”
Arguably most notable of the triples came from Harris-Smith in the second half. The four-star freshman guard was just 2-for-22 from deep entering Tuesday, but made three of his four shots in Maryland’s victory.
Fellow freshman Jahnathan Lamothe also had a day to remember. He hadn’t made a field goal in his first nine games at Maryland, but made four and tallied a career-high 10 points for the Terps on his birthday.
“He’s my closest friend on the team so seeing that was amazing,” Harris-Smith said. “I was more hyped when he was scoring than [when] I was scoring.”
Maryland has won its last 17 games at Xfinity Center and Willard moved to 22-1 on the Terps’ home court as head coach. Maryland’s struggles have come away from home, as Willard’s team is 0-4 on the road or at neutral sites this year and 6-16 since he got to College Park. The Terps will hope to generate more momentum with another home matchup against Nicholls State next week before its biggest remaining nonconference test at UCLA on Dec. 22.