Terps' games turning on ability to shoot 3s

Ringing up 33 points from beyond the arc, Maryland's sometimes ugly offense was an aesthetic success Saturday in a romp over Wake Forest. The key, according to coach Mark Turgeon, was spacing, which keeps defenders from swarming 7-foot-1 Alex Len and enhances ball movement.

With the Terrapins getting open shots off their secondary fast break and in the halfcourt offense via inside-out passing, all 11 of Maryland's 3-pointers came on assists dealt by seven different players. Even freshman Shaquille Cleare got into the act, feeding senior Logan Aronhalt to register the second assist of his career.

When Maryland (16-6, 4-5) visits Virginia Tech (11-10, 2-6) on Thursday night, the Terps will try to replicate the formula.

Up next
Maryland at Virginia Tech
When » Thursday, 9 p.m.
Where » Cassell Coliseum,
Blacksburg, Va.
TV » Ch. 20

"We have a rotation that we're sticking with to try to keep shooters on the floor for spacing," Turgeon said Monday. "We'll see if that helps."

So expect more consistent duty for Maryland's best 3-point shooters -- Aronhalt (48.6 percent), Seth Allen (35.1 percent) and Jake Layman (32.8 percent). Allen snapped out of a 2-for-19 slump Saturday by hitting three of four. After struggling the first two months, Layman has hit 16 of his 35 attempts (45 percent) from beyond the arc in ACC play.

Three-pointers have been tied to the success of the Terps. In victories, Maryland is shooting 38 percent on 3-point attempts, making an average of 6.1 per game. In losses, Maryland has hit 25.7 percent, making 4.3 per game.

The Terps thrived Saturday off their secondary break, producing dunks, layups and open shots from the perimeter. Nine of their 3-pointers came within 18 seconds of gaining possession. According to Aronhalt, sophomore Nick Faust is particularly instrumental in the success of the secondary break.

"Especially when Nick's at the point, we like to run our secondary sets, our quick hitters and just try to get things up and down because he's not a guy who's going to dominate the ball," Aronhalt said. "He wants to get it out of his hands and move -- cut and screen. We play like that -- up and down -- and we make shots, we're tough to beat."

In hitting their 3-pointers Saturday, the Terps opened up the inside for their starting frontcourt players, who hit 16 of 19 shots. Starting for just the second time against an ACC opponent, senior forward James Padgett made all six of his shots. On Monday, Turgeon said Padgett would remain in the starting lineup against Virginia Tech.

When the teams met in their ACC opener in College Park on Jan. 5, Maryland hit 10 of 23 shots from beyond the arc in a 94-71 victory that was led by freshmen Allen (21 points) and Layman (20 points), who combined for seven of the 3s.

The Terps are likely, however, to face a different challenge. On Saturday, Virginia Tech used a sagging 2-3 zone, daring North Carolina to shoot from the outside. With the high-scoring Tar Heels making five of 24 from beyond the arc, they tallied only 55 points in regulation before running away in overtime for a 72-60 victory.

"If they're gonna play the 2-3, we're gonna have to make some shots," Turgeon said.