If you saw the second half of the Maryland-Kentucky game, you may have had the same reaction we did: uh-oh.
When we tuned in, the game was somewhat chaotic, and it was working to Kentucky's advantage as they built a 15 point second half lead.
Maryland wiped that out in a damn big hurry, and in the process, they absolutely dominated Kentucky. And it wasn't just that they got to loose balls faster or that they scored more points. They were just...powerful. That's the best word we can think of.
They rebounded like a Lefty Driesell team, grabbing 46 to Kentucky's 34 and 23 offensive boards to UK's 12.
Alex Len had 7/12 and Charles Mitchell had 6/10 off the bench.
We didn't realize it while watching, but Shaquille Cleare ended up with just two points and no boards in seven minutes. It seemed like more.
Len was a radically different player from last year. The big man shot 10-18, blocked four shots and had no turnovers. He did have three fouls, but the third one came quite late.
For the most part, the critical players for the Terps shot well, with two exceptions: Pe'Shon Howard was just 1-8 and Dez Wells, who just gained eligibility a couple of days ago, was 2-12. That's 3-20 from 20% of the starting lineup.
Nonetheless, the two combined for nine rebounds and nine assists (and just three turnovers).
Look, we've been way more strident than most in tellilng you that Maryland is rising fast, but this performance way surpassed anything we expected. We were stunned, particularly when the Terps began to just dominate Kentucky physically.
Both teams are fairly young, but guys like Nerlens Noel (four points, nine rebounds), Alex Poythress (eight points, seven rebounds), Kyle Wiltjer (19 points, six rebounds) and Willy Cauley-Stien (eight points and six rebounds) are more than able to compete with Maryland.
And to be sure, Kentucky won. But in a way, Maryland did too. They are a legitimate Top 25 team and as soon as they get comfortable together, they are a legitimate Final Four threat.
We were also a bit surprised at how much deeper Maryland seemed, and that may have had a lot to do with how things changed in the second half. Maryland was just voracious and they nearly pulled it off. A bit more time, a bit more confidence, and they would have.
The not-really surprise of the night was Florida State losing to South Alabama. At this point we should be used to a slow start from FSU and don't take this too seriously.
It probably did take some of the fun out of hanging the ACC champions banner though, which they did just before blowing the game.
State had a lot of fun with Herb Sendek's old team, toying with Miami of Ohio like a cat with a mouse.
In fairness, Miami is not on the same level, but still: State played with verve and flair and that lives up to the Wolfpack tradition. Of the various things we're liking about Mark Gottfried's stewardship of the program, we're happy to see an embrace of the tradition of showmanship. It's important in Raleigh, just as defense is a big deal in Durham and UNC's pointing on assists. It's part of the culture. It's been neglected for too long.
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State held Miami to 29% from the floor. Perhaps the best news: there were tentative signs of life from Thomas de Thaey, who was 4-6 for 10 points. If he can be helpful, State will be much better.
Gardner-Webb hung with UNC for a few minutes before bowing to the inevitable, 76-59. James Michael McAdoo finished with 26 points and 14 boards.
Rookie PG Marcus Paige finished with no assists and four turnovers.
But it's a young team and the first game. Hard to learn much. Check back in a few games and we'll have a better idea.
After their pathetic effort against St. Leo's, Miami performed better (perhaps mad) against the Hatters, beating Stetson by eight.
Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji combined for 34 points and 23 rebounds.
The 'Canes of course played without Durand Scott, currently suspended by the NCAA.
Georgia Tech didn't have too much trouble with Tulane, winning 79-61 and opening their slick new arena to boot.
Perhaps best of all, Tech had a sell-out crowd, which hasn't happened a lot lately.
Wake is a very young team, so it's not surprising that they struggled a bit in their opener. But win they did, and while Travis McKie and CJ Harris were reliable returnees (McKie finished with 11 points and nine boards, while Harris racked up 19).
Wake went with three freshmen: point guard Cody Miller-McIntyre and forwards Devin Thomas and Tyler Cavanaugh, who pulled 28, 29 and 21 minutes respectively.
Fellow rookies Madison Jones, Aaron Rountree and Arnaud Adala Moto played 17, 3 and 21 minutes respectively.
Next up for the Deacs: UConn, which upset Michigan State Friday.
Despite missing three pretty good guards - Jontel Evans, Malcolm Brogdon and Teven Jones (and walk-on Justin Miller), Virginia controlled the pace and nearly beat Mason.
Rookie Justin Anderson, celebrated for character and athleticism, finished 1-5 for four points.
As we saw across the conference on opening night, a lot of freshmen were jittery. They'll get better.