- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2019

COLLEGE PARK — Friday’s meeting of two Washington-area unbeatens has the No. 6 Maryland Terrapins excited.

Senior Anthony Cowan, a Bowie, Maryland native, is familiar with these contests by now: Maryland versus Georgetown, Maryland versus American and the like. He knows local nonconference opponents always give the Terrapins their best shot.

“Because it’s Maryland, at the end of the day,” he said.

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Maryland (4-0) hosts George Mason (5-0) on Friday right as the Terrapins are getting comfortable in the early weeks of a season packed with high expectations.

The Terrapins haven’t reached the toughest part of their nonconference schedule yet — that will arrive in December when they host Notre Dame and travel to ranked Seton Hall.  But for now, they can point to progress they’ve made in each game.

After trailing for much of the first half against Rhode Island earlier this month, they pulled ahead to earn a 73-55 win. Since then, Maryland has taken care of small-conference visitors Oakland and Fairfield, winning by 30- and 19 point-margins, respectively.

Coach Mark Turgeon said Thursday that he has a “much better feel” for his players and how he should deploy them in the rotation. Through four games, 11 different players have averaged at least 6.5 minutes per game as Turgeon has experimented with his lineups and looked for the best chemistry.

That’s led to a balanced scoring attack led by forward Jalen Smith’s 15 points per game. Each game has featured someone new in a prominent role — Ricky Lindo Jr., for example, scored a career-high 13 points against Fairfield as he settles into his role off the bench.

Cowan is averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 assists per game thus far as he works toward a balance between getting his myriad teammates involved in the offense and taking over with his own shooting.

“It’s definitely thinking (about) just trying to get everyone involved, get everybody going in the beginning,” Cowan said. “I think I’ve done an OK job of just letting the game come to me. Not really trying to force anything this year, just going with the flow unless I need to score. Then that’s when I can get it going a little bit.”

In the meantime, George Mason isn’t an opponent Maryland can overlook. The Patriots were only voted ninth in the Atlantic-10 preseason poll, but they’ve taken care of five opponents by averaging 74.4 points per game with four players averaging double digits.

Even as Maryland solidifies its rotation for the year, Turgeon likely will play his depth players when he can Friday as he tries to maximize his players’ room for improvement.

“We’re not looking at that we’re 4-0,” Turgeon said. “We’re looking at where we are and how much better we have to get now.”

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