Observations: Maryland is excelling with a throwback style

NEW YORK — Very rarely do we see teams in college basketball flourish with two traditional big men and a true small forward, but that’s exactly the formula Maryland has used to start the season 8-1.

Rather than lean on the the lineup that led him to 28 victories last season with Jake Layman at power forward, Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon has shifted Layman to the three and used a rotation of Robert Carter, Diamond Stone, Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky to man Maryland’s two frontcourt spots.

That quartet combined for 29 points and 27 rebounds in No. 6 Maryland’s 76-66 win over UConn on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

“We’ve got to be dominant with bigs up front,” Turgeon said. “Our chemistry has come a long way in that area and it’s only going to get better.”

The Terps outrebounded the Huskies 45-24 and had the look of a team that is going to regularly overwhelm people on the glass for the entire season.

Last year Maryland won with skill. This year it’s winning with power.

London Perrantes may be better off the ball for this particular Virginia team

Have the Cavaliers found their scoring replacement for Justin Anderson?

Quite possibly.

And it may have come in the most unlikeliest of places.

The first two years of London Perrantes’ college career were spent as a low turnover point guard that ran Virginia’s offense with the poise of a surgeon. Now as a junior he might be best served sliding off the ball and filling the opposite wing across from Malcolm Brogdon on the perimeter.

The California native didn’t score in the first half of Tuesday night’s 70-54 win over West Virginia at Madison Square Garden and didn’t play in this team’s last two games due to an appendectomy. But he wound up with 13 points and had a major hand in Virginia’s comeback win against the Mountaineers.

“We’ve got to have him look for his shot,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said about Perrantes. “That’s important for us.”

Virginia’a offense had a different feel when either Devon Hall or Darius Thompson was initiating things at the point of attack with Perrantes on the wing and it will be interesting to see if Bennett takes that same approach moving forward into the ACC.

West Virginia needs to identify a go-to guy

The Mountaineers have depth, experience, and the type of toughness that most coaches would salivate for.

But they don’t possess a go-to scorer like they did last season with Juwan Staten.

During the second half of Tuesday night’s loss to Virginia at the Jimmy V Classic, West Virginia’s offense was stymied by a combination of the Cavaliers’ vaunted half court defense and their own lack of ability to find someone to get them a basket when they needed one.

Devin Williams has made a massive jump from last season to this one on the interior, but he’s more of a rugged presence that does dirty work on the offensive glass rather than someone you can throw the ball to when you need a basket.

Can either Daxter Miles, Jevon Carter, or Tarik Phillip emerge for this team as someone who goes and scores the ball when the Mountaineers need a quick deuce?

That’s the million dollar question right now in Morgantown.

This Just In

Purdue’s Rapheal Davis (knee) will play tonight against Howard, Matt Painter told CBS Sports on Wednesday morning. Davis has not played since Nov. 22nd. He’s currently averaging 11.6 points for the Boilermakers.

Cincinnati’s Jacob Evans (ankle) will attempt to practice this week, Mick Cronin told CBS Sports on Wednesday morning. Evans is questionable for Saturday’s game against Xavier.

Jake Laynan (USATSI)
Jake Layman scored 8 points vs. UConn on Tuesday. (USATSI)

This and That

Every year of Nigel Hayes’ college career he’s added something to his arsenal and this season it’s been his ability to facilitate. The 6-8 junior is currently leading Wisconsin in assists and has 14 more dimes than Bronson Koenig — the Badgers’ starting point guard. Hayes is currently averaging 15.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists for Wisconsin, who improved to 6-3 following last Saturday’s win over Temple. The Badgers will next host Milwaukee Wednesday at the Kohl Center.

Utah’s Jakob Poeltl is quietly playing like an All-American. The 7-footer is averaging 21.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks while shooting 69.2 percent from the field for the 7-1 Utes, whose only loss was against Miami in Puerto Rico. Poeltl still has two major opportunities to make national statements prior to Pac-12 play as Utah will face Wichita State on Saturday and then do battle with Duke on Dec. 19 at Madison Square Garden.

Bradley Hayes’ evolution at Georgetown is one of the best stories right now in college basketball. The 7-footer only scored a combined 30 points prior to this season during his career, but is now starting at center for the Hoyas and averaging 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds. Hard work does indeed pay off.

Coaches never want to hear about moral victories, but New Mexico’s Craig Neal has to be really encouraged with the way his team played Saturday in a 12-point loss at Purdue. The Lobos had no answer inside for Isaac Haas or A.J. Hammons, but really gave the Boilermakers all they wanted at Mackey Arena. New Mexico is going to be a real factor at the top of the Mountain West and can make some statements nationally when it plays in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii in a few weeks.

How badly does Temple need to go on a little run? The 3-4 Owls face Penn Wednesday at the Palestra and then host Saint Joseph’s and Delaware State back-to-back before beginning conference play at Cincinnati on Dec. 29. After that game Fran Dunphy’s squad will host upstart Houston before playing at UConn. This team has to start building some confidence after a brutal early schedule that saw it play North Carolina, Utah, Butler, and Wisconsin.

As long as Florida State makes the NCAA Tournament, the Seminoles are going to be the type of team that will strike fear into any opponent. Leonard Hamilton has two potential 2016 first-round picks in Dwayne Bacon (17.7 points) and Malik Beasley (18.6 points) along with three other veteran perimeter players in Devon Bookert, Montay Brandon, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes. This is the type of team that could win two tournament games by double-figures even if they enter the field of 68 with 10 or more losses — they’re that talented. Florida State is currently 5-2 overall.

There may not be a player in college basketball that’s as important to their respective team as Stefan Moody is to Ole Miss. The diminutive guard is averaging 23.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.6 for the 6-2 Rebels. Only one other player on this team is scoring in double-figures.

The most underrated thing about Iowa? How well it passes the ball. Fran McCaffery’s squad is currently averaging 20.0 assists on 30.4 made field goals. The Hawkeyes next face in-state rival Iowa State on Thursday night at Hilton Coliseum.

VCU’s Melvin Johnson is playing like one of the best guards in the country. The 6-4 senior has made 33 3-point shots during the Rams’ first eight games and is averaging 19.9 points while also playing logging long minutes at point guard. This is a player who’s playing like he knows he only has a few months left in his college career. Johnson is currently shooting 47.8 percent from long distance. VCU is 5-3 overall and next plays Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Dec. 15.

Why is the Crosstown Shootout between Xavier and Cincinnati different than other games for Chris Mack? Find out here in this week’s edition of the College Hoops Today podcast: bit.ly/1lr6wPB .

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