College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - The 19th-ranked Maryland Terrapins will continue their season-long six-game homestand at the Xfinity Center on Wednesday night, as they take on the NC Central Eagles in a non-conference clash.
NCCU, the odds-on favorite to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, stumbled out of the gate with a challenging schedule, losing to North Carolina, Creighton and Cincinnati, but since then it has ripped off five straight wins to improve to 6-3. The Eagles began MEAC play over the weekend by defeating Maryland-Eastern Shore on Friday (68-63) and Howard on Sunday (61-39).
Maryland opened the season up with six straight wins to surge into the Top-25 before suffering its first setback of the season to Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 3, 76-65. The Terps bounced back on Saturday afternoon with an easy win over Winthrop, 82-62.
Maryland defeated NCCU in the only previous meeting between the programs last December in College Park, 70-56.
The Eagles' most recent contest was never in question, as they opened up a 27-19 halftime lead over Howard and cruised the rest of the way en route to a 22-point victory. They shot 47.8 percent from the field, including 10-of-25 from 3-point range, all while holding Howard to less than 30 percent shooting overall. Anthony McDonald was especially active from beyond the arc (7-of-15) on his way to a game-high 21 points. Jordan Parks tallied a true double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Nimrod Hilliard contributed nine points and eight assists.
On the season, NCCU boasts stellar percentages from the field (.480) and 3- point range (.396) and scores 68.1 ppg, which is more than enough to support an outstanding defense that allows just 53.4 ppg on 34.6 percent shooting. McDonald leads the way with 14.6 ppg and has drained 36-of-82 from long range (.439). Parks (14.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is right on McDonald's heels for the scoring lead, while Dante Holmes chips in 11.9 ppg.
The Terps had their hands full with Winthrop early on in their latest contest, as they were locked up in a tie game early in the second stanza, but they took control with a 7-0 run and eventually pulled away for the 20-point victory. Not only did they outshoot Winthrop from the field (47.8 percent to 36.2 percent), but they outscored it at the free-throw line (29-11) and held a firm advantage on the glass (37-26). Jake Layman poured in a game-high 21 points, while Melo Trimble logged 16 points and seven assists. Richaud Pack also scored 16, Jared Nickens netted 12 off the bench and Damonte Dodd added nine points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
Maryland has performed well on both ends of the floor this season, scoring 76.5 ppg on a lofty 48.5 percent field goal shooting while allowing just 62.5 ppg on 37 percent from the floor. The squad isn't at full strength with Dez Wells (16.2 ppg) out with a broken wrist, but there's still some good talent to rely on. Trimble (16.5 ppg) has assumed the role of go-to scorer and has impressive percentages from the field (.477), 3-point range (.441) and the foul line (.887). Layman brings 14.5 ppg and 5.6 rpg to the mix, and Dion Wiley (8.3 ppg) acts as a spark off the bench.