COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — UCLA at Maryland is the type of game people point to when they talk about how unwieldy Big Ten geography will be after the next round of expansion.
On this night, however, Bruins coach Mick Cronin felt the schedule actually favored his team.
It certainly looked that way. Jaylen Clark scored 19 points, and No. 16 UCLA raced out to a 30-point lead in the first half before cruising to an 87-60 victory over No. 20 Maryland on Wednesday night.
“Obviously, we’re not that much better than Maryland,” Cronin said. “We had played four of our last five at home … and they’re coming off three straight bloodbaths.”
On the same day the University of California Board of Regents voted to affirm UCLA’s move to the Big Ten, the Bruins (9-2) had a chance to size up a future conference foe. It wasn’t much of a contest.
“The world has changed. You’ve got to embrace it and roll with it. They make nice planes for a reason,” Cronin said. “When you go anywhere else, everywhere is kind of far. It’s not like when we play Washington it’s a quick flight.”
Maryland (8-3) committed the game’s first six turnovers while falling behind 19-5, and a 3-pointer by David Singleton made it 26-7. The Terps used three of their timeouts in the first 15 minutes, and nothing seemed to help.
“To beat real teams like Maryland, you have to stay focused, stay locked in,” Singleton said.
After going 2 for 24 from 3-point range in a loss to Tennessee last weekend, Maryland missed its first eight shots from the field and nine of its first 10 from beyond the arc.
Singleton’s layup off yet another Maryland turnover made the score 47-17. It was 49-20 at halftime.
The Terps started new coach Kevin Willard’s tenure with eight straight wins, and the last of those was an impressive home victory over Illinois. Since then, they’ve dropped three straight. The first two were away from home against Wisconsin and Tennessee — by a combined eight points.
But this one was noncompetitive from start to finish.
“Getting a beatdown every once in a while is not the worst thing,” Willard said. “The five games in a row that we’ve played were difficult, just the timing. … Next year when we have the two league games, we can’t come back and play these games.”
Singleton scored 18 points for UCLA, which has won six straight.
Ian Martinez had 16 for the Terrapins, who trailed by as many as 38 in the second half.
UCLA: This victory was as comprehensive as it gets. The cross-country trip and the Maryland crowd didn’t seem to bother the Bruins much. UCLA finished with only four turnovers to Maryland’s 16.
Maryland: The Terps had a great atmosphere for the win over Illinois, and the crowd Wednesday included Governor-elect Wes Moore. But the fans had a hard time staying energized in this one, and Maryland could probably benefit from some easier games now.
STATS AND FACTS
This was UCLA’s most lopsided win over a ranked opponent since beating Maryland 105-70 in the 2000 NCAA Tournament. The 29-point halftime lead was the largest for the Bruins since they led Nicholls State 60-29 on Nov. 18, 2014.
This was also the most lopsided defeat for the Terps in this arena, where they started playing in 2002.
The losses to Wisconsin and Tennessee didn’t cost Maryland a spot in the Top 25, but the Terps seem likely to fall out after this blowout.
UCLA: The Bruins face No. 13 Kentucky on Saturday in New York.
Maryland: The Terps have over a week off before hosting Saint Peter’s next Thursday night.
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister
More AP college basketball: http://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25