The Washington Times - December 13, 2008, 12:17AM

One last stat – and one I’ll follow up on sometime in the next few days – before heading home for the night.

Maryland led Delaware State by 19 points at halftime, the third time this season the Terps were up that much at the midpoint. The others were the routs of Youngstown State and George Washington.

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It happened only one time all of last season – a 21-point edge over Savannah State in what became a 75-48 pummeling.

Forward Dave Neal told me tonight the last thing said in the huddle before Maryland left the locker room was how important the first 10 minutes would be. After struggling with that in the first couple games, it’s been something the Terps have handled reasonably well when they’ve played opponents not named Georgetown.

The fact the Terps aren’t sleepwalking against inferior opponents – and they’ve had that tendency over the last few seasons – is an encouraging sign. It might not matter much against vastly better teams, but it appears fair to say Maryland probably will not be blown away instantly by too many ACC foes.

That’s not to say there won’t be losses, and maybe a blowout or two (those meetings with North Carolina don’t look like a ton of fun at this stage, though they wouldn’t for anyone). But at 7-2, things still look a bit better for Maryland than they did when practice started nearly two months ago.