by Rick Snider

Maryland wasted a miracle in early December.

The Terrapins blew a 22-point lead to Illinois before getting a tap-in at regulation’s end and a free throw in the final moment of overtime to win 92-91 on Sunday. There was no way the Terps were winning this game, but there should have been no way they would lose it, either.

Once again, coach Mark Turgeon looks lost. He’s a great recruiter and a good guy, but powerless to stop meltdowns in the second half of games. Sounds a lot like predecessor Lefty Driesell, only Turgeon’s predecessor won a lot of big games and titles.

It’s time for Maryland to admit Turgeon is not predecessors Gary Williams or Driesell. He wins a lot of games, but could win a lot more if his players were better steeled for dire situations. Yes, they managed to do so against the Illini, but it took two lucky plays to do so.

The Terps are soft. They don’t make defensive stands when the other team is running off a streak. Their ball handling is sloppy and at times it seems there is no inside game, despite Bruno Fernando possibly being their best player. That’s on Turgeon to develop in practice.

Maryland hasn’t figured out who’s its leader come crunch time. Anthony Cowan scored 27 against Illinois, including the winning free throw, but Justin Jackson and Kevin Huerter are also capable of being leading scorers. While having several scorers is a good thing, the Terps need someone who is the clear leader in tough times. Another Dez Wells or Greivis Vasquez.

Maryland’s 7-3 start is alarming. They have five straight non-Big Ten opponents, like Ohio on Thursday, before Catholic and Gardner-Webb, to become more cohesive. Otherwise, Maryland will once more unravel come February under Turgeon.

It’s becoming a tired look.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.

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