COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Last Wednesday’s film session was a rough one for freshman forward Charles Mitchell. Even in an 83-74 win over Lafayette, head coach Mark Turgeon focused on everything that the Terrapins – and Mitchell in particular – did wrong.
“I think every mistake in film session was me,” Mitchell said. “I got chewed out so bad. But I took it as constructive criticism and the next few practices, I practiced hard and was really focused just to show him that I can really change.”
That change was on proud display Saturday night at the Comcast Center as Mitchell bulldozed his way to a double-double in Maryland’s 70-53 win over Georgia Southern. The four-star recruit out of Atlanta, Ga., scored a career-high 13 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and led a Terrapin bench that outscored its Eagle counterparts 37-9.
“We ran them down on defense,” Mitchell said after Maryland’s fourth straight win. “They would bring another five in [and] we’d run them down again. It kills the other team mentally and physically on the court when we have depth on our bench.”
Five Terrapins finished in double-figures Saturday, an indication of that depth that Turgeon has not always had but worked hard to create. With center Alex Len falling into early foul trouble and Dez Wells struggling to get anything going, he was able to turn to his young bench for energy in the first half.
Mitchell ignited the crowd of 10,282 with a one-handed dunk. Fellow freshman Shaquille Cleare chipped in a pair of early baskets and finished with 10 points and five boards. But it was senior transfer Logan Aronhalt who truly kickstarted the Terrapin offense, knocking down two threes in the first half to give Maryland its first lead of the evening.
“We were struggling. We couldn’t make a jump shot, couldn’t even hit the rim at the start,” Turgeon said. “And then Logan came in and he was 4-for-4 [from beyond the arc] and we ran some things for him, and he made it and it really helped us.”
Aronhalt’s sharp shooting was much appreciated on a night when Len could manage only 10 points against an Eagles team with no player taller than 6-foot-8. Maryland won the battle of the boards by a wide margin, 49-25, but in many instances failed to turn those rebounds into points.
Sloppy play early in the game altered Turgeon’s original substitution plan and forced him to turn to his bench, a luxury that the Terps have had to live without in years past. He’s certainly happy to have solid production there now.
“That’s really the way it’s been,” Turgeon said of his reserves this year. “Our bench has really kind of outscored people by about 20, 25 [points] all season.”
“It makes us a dangerous team,” added Aronhalt. “When you can bring guys off the bench and you never know who’s going to score, the other teams choose who they want to key on and that really opens things up for guys like me and Charles.”
Aronhalt, Mitchell and the rest of the bench kept Maryland in the game until the starters could get going in the second half. The Terrapins turned a three-point lead at halftime into a lead of 15 midway through the second half by overpowering the undersized Eagles and holding them to a 32.2 percent clip from the floor. It was all downhill from there.
The win leaves plenty of things worth celebrating, namely the fact that Maryland handily beat a solid Georgia Southern team without strong play from its top-two scorers, Len and Wells. But Mitchell knows that there’s still plenty to be criticized in the film room.
“I probably did a couple things during the game that I’ll get chewed out tomorrow about,” he said, cracking a smile. “But I’m ready for it.”
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