STATE COLLEGE, Pa. --- Maryland forward Dino Gregory's face brightened after Wednesday's 62-39 defeat of Penn State when the topic of James Padgett was broached.
Padgett had just wrapped up a six-point night that featured a steal, a rebound and 2-for-4 shooting from the field. He was also 2-for-3 at the foul line.
He also did not commit a turnover, providing some stability in the paint when Gregory was stuck on the bench in foul trouble in the first half.
"He played extremely well," Gregory said. "He came in again and got some key rebounds and had a key dunk. He was really aggressive and played like he can play. That's what we need every game, and I think from here on out he's going to do that."
It's continued a turnaround for Padgett, who was a meager minus-9 for the season (and minus-.17 points per minute) after Maryland's trip to Madison Square Garden. In three games since, Padgett is plus-46 in 39 minutes of work --- or plus-1.18 a minute.
Yes, those games were against Delaware State, Elon and jump shot-crazed Penn State. No matter. If a team is picking up more than a point a minute when a player is on the floor, he is exceptionally useful.
Padgett didn't seem like he would be so helpful in the first two weeks of the season. But since returning from New York, he's made a major push to emerge as Maryland's top frontcourt reserve.
The rundown of Maryland's plus-minus for the Penn State game:
A couple other notes:
* Forward Hauk Palsson did not play for the first time this season.
* Guard Cliff Tucker had his first scoreless outing in 16 games, a stretch dating back to last February's visit to N.C. State.