Plenty of anticipation in College Park for basketball this season and the Terps certainly didn't disappoint in their opener. Although they came up short by a 72-69 count, Maryland gave #3 Kentucky all it could handle.
Alex Len capped a huge night with a three point play with nine seconds left cutting the defending national champions lead to 70-69, but that was as close as they would get. The seven foot sophomore finished with 23 points and a dozen rebounds, both career highs.
A sellout crowd of nearly 18,000 packed the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with most cheering for the Terps and head coach Mark Turgeon.
"We weren't very good in the first half and I thought Kentucky was great," Turgeon said. "We weren't ready for the big stage but in the second half we executed better."
Maryland was ice cold shooting the ball in the first half, a frigid 13 of 44 from the floor. coming up empty on all eleven three point attempts. The Wildcats took advantage and held a 49-36 lead at intermission. The Terps shots started falling in the second half in a big way and Maryland owned Kentucky on the boards. The Terps outrebounded UK by a 54-38 margin, including 28-13 on the offensive end.
Maryland received a boost this week when transfer Dez Wells won an appeal with the NCAA, allowing the former Xavier star to play immediately, without having to sit out the season. Under normal circumstances, athletes must sit out a season when transferring among Division-1 schools. Wells had some legal troubles in Cincinnati, but they never found their way to court, making for a less than typical case. Wells was only 2-12 from the floor against UK, but his addition greatly increases the chances that the Terrapins will return to the NCAA tournament in March.
The Terps host Morehead State in their home opener on Monday night at the Comcast Center.