COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland entered the game against No. 2 Duke on Saturday night in a must-win situation after last Sunday’s loss to Virginia at home. Then they had their best perimeter player, Dez Wells, foul out with 38 seconds left in a two-point game. They also committed a season-high 26 turnovers.
But they still won the game, 83-81.
Even still, the player that won it, Seth Allen, committed 8 turnovers on the night and redeemed himself with two free throws with just 2.7 seconds to go.
“He grew up tonight,” coach Mark Turgeon said after the game about his freshman combo guard. Allen, shooting just 71.8% from the free throw line on the season hit seven of eight tonight and sealed the game for Maryland. Despite his obvious struggles throughout the game, Allen was never phased by the pressure.
“The clock was running down, and I just tried to make a move. I saw the defender looking for a screen and I just went right by him,” Allen said about the final play where he drew the foul.
While Allen did hit the winning free throws, the team would have had no chance to win if not for the play of Alex Len. Len, the much-maligned center, has drawn criticism of late for not being assertive enough on the offensive end. A trend he ended tonight.
“I challenged Alex [Len] about being Mason Plumlee’s little brother, and he treats you like a little brother and he said ‘I’m tired of being a little brother, you know, since I’ve been here’ and now it’s time for us to act like one of the big guys,” coach Turgeon said.
Len had his most impressive game since the season-opening game against Kentucky. He finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds, as well as 3 blocks. Turgeon admitted he had been hard on Len this week, and Len responded to the criticism.
Turgeon got really emotional during his post-game press conference as he choked up at one point while referencing how difficult this week has been. He even mentioned how his family had to leave the last home game (Virginia) as the boo’s rained down from the crowd. Meanwhile, Coach K basically took shots at Maryland saying that if they cared about the Duke rivalry, they wouldn’t leave the ACC. Turgeon, on the other hand, just wanted to win.
“I take a lot of pride in my coaching. I don’t do a lot of things well, but I like to think that I can coach fairly well,” said Turgeon as he choked up. “This win was for my family and the fans. I know what this win means for our fan base, and I really wanted to beat Duke.”
In what could be the last match-up in College Park, trust me coach Turgeon, the fans are glad that you did.