Guard helps Terrapins turn up pressure in win
The musical chairs point guard job at Maryland is stable -- at least for one more game.
Getting the call Saturday was Nick Faust, who led an offense that committed a season-low eight turnovers. The sophomore had a flawless afternoon in addition to scoring a game-high 18 points with three assists and three steals in a 72-59 victory over Clemson before 15,373 at Comcast Center.
Replacing freshman Seth Allen, Faust had his highest-scoring game this year against an ACC foe, hitting seven of 10 shots, including four 3-pointers as Maryland improved to 19-8 overall and 7-7 in the league. He also had his second straight mistake-free game. Faust's tally for the week -- eight assists, zero turnovers.
"I thought his floor game was good," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "He got us into our offense. I thought he defended better. I'm on Nick all of the time about being an elite defender, taking on a challenge."
Faust guided an offense that worked its big men effectively. Senior James Padgett (six points, six rebounds), sophomore Alex Len (nine points, eight rebounds) and freshmen Shaquille Cleare (10 points, six rebounds) and Charles Mitchell (eight points, seven rebounds) were active and involved, leading Maryland to an edge on the boards (39-29) and in points in the lane (42-28).
"We got back to rebounding," Turgeon said "We got back to being a little more physical, which we need to be."
Faust also led a defense that applied fullcourt pressure much of the way. He had a backcourt steal and breakaway dunk in the first half and a midcourt steal and 3-pointer in the second half. His 3-pointer in the first half gave Maryland the lead for good at 18-16.
"I like the press," Faust said. "It helps guys get running and easy offensive buckets."
Trailing in the opening minutes, Maryland went to the press in an effort to find some energy.
"We were flat. The building was flat," Turgeon said. "It was 9-4. We gotta try something."
Pressure keyed Maryland's decisive run early in the second half as a steal and breakaway dunk by freshman Jake Layman (12 points, four rebounds) triggered a 19-5 spree that included 3-pointers by Faust and Layman. When junior Pe'Shon Howard made a steal and hit the trailing Len for a 3-point-play, it gave the Terps their biggest lead at 56-40.
After that, Clemson (13-13, 5-9) never made a serious run despite the work of senior Devin Booker (16 points, five rebounds).
"We won this game because we had depth. We flat wore them out," Turgeon said. "We seemed a lot more mature today than we've been in a while."
On a day when Maryland honored legendary coach Lefty Driesell at halftime, the Terps played a game worthy of the tradition he established. Driesell talked to the team Friday. He was penciled in for 15 minutes but held court for nearly an hour.
"He was telling us how games are won before you even step on the court in practice and preparation before the game," Mitchell said. "He gave us great advice."