Jan 16, 2013, 9:02 PM EST
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Alex Len finished with 10 points and six boards, tipping in an errant Pe’Shon Howard shot with just 0.9 seconds left on the clock as the Terps knocked off No. 14 NC State at the Comcast Center, 51-50.
Maryland had twice taken a ten point lead — the second of which came midway through the second half at 42-32. But the Wolfpack came storming back, using a 16-3 run to take a 48-45 lead on a Scott Wood three. After a pair of free throws and a bucket from Len, Lorenzo Brown, who finished with a game-high 17 points, hit a pull-up jumper to give the Wolfpack a 50-49 lead, setting up Maryland’s final possession.
That possession worked out swimmingly. With 5.2 seconds left on the clock, Howard took the inbounds and drove left, throwing up a runner — “He said it wasn’t a miss, it was a pass,” Led said with a chuckle after the game — that happened to fall right into the hands of the future lottery pick.
Said Turgeon, “We were pretty lucky at the end.”
The play looked eerily reminiscent of the play that won NC State and Jim Valvano the 1983 national title against Houston’s Phi Slama Jama team, and Seth Allen drew a chuckle from reporters after the game when asked if he had every seen Lorenzo Charles’ title-winning, buzzer-beating putback. “I’m too young,” he said, “I just turned 18.”
The irony would be too much — NC State losing on the same kind of play that won them their only national title! — if it wasn’t a sign of a bigger issue for Maryland. The play that Howard ran wasn’t at all what Mark Turgeon drew up in the huddle. According to Len, Turgeon wanted the ball going to Logan Aronhalt. According to Turgeon, however, the play was “supposed to be an up-screen for Alex. We down-screened.” According to the tape, the play was for Howard to drive baseline, throw up a pair that happens to fall into Len’s hands and for Terp fans to storm the floor.
I’m not sure anyone knows what was supposed to happen.
The reason this is a concern is that Maryland has struggled in close games this season, and a big reason for that is shoddy late-game execution. They had a chance to knock off Kentucky in their season-opener but couldn’t get a shot off on the game’s final possession when they were down by three. In a three-point loss to Florida State, Allen had a three blocked on the final possession of the game. On Sunday, in a 54-47 loss at Miami, the Terps couldn’t execute offensively for 40 minutes, let alone down the stretch.
“Kentucky, we needed a three but we didn’t pass it,” Turgeon said. “Florida State, we didn’t drive it. We settled for a jump shot.”
Which brings us back to Wednesday night, where the Terps escaped despite the fact that, once again, they couldn’t run the play that Turgeon drew up in the huddle.
“We were 0-for-timeouts,” Turgeon said. “There wasn’t one timeout where they did what I wanted them to. Not one. It’s frustrating. We practiced timeouts two days ago. Lined up, practiced it. It’s where we are right now. It’s not a lot of fun. You’re sitting there and Pe’Shon’s looking at me, dribbling the ball at half court like, ‘What?’ after we drew up the play in the timeout. It’s frustrating.”
Timeouts aren’t the only time where the Terps struggle to execute offensively.
“Eventually, when I have a program long enough, we’re going to execute a lot better than we did,” Turgeon continued. “I can’t add enough stuff because they cant’t consume it all right now. We’re really limited with some of the stuff we can do.”
“They can do it in practice, but as soon as the lights are on, they don’t know.”
That’s a problem, and one that goes well beyond their struggles getting to get Len the ball in a position to score on Wednesday or Howard’s inability to make a shot since the calendar turned.
Len is going to make a lot of money in the NBA, and it’s likely going to be sooner rather than later; he’s a lottery pick. But outside of the Big Ukranian, the Terps don’t really have all that much scoring punch. They do, however, have a bunch of grinders — guys like Dez Wells, and Shaquille Cleare, and Charles Mitchell. It’s quite reminiscent of the teams that Turgeon put together at Texas A&M, where he built a program known for defense and offensive execution. They didn’t put up huge numbers or ride a wave of one-and-doners to NCAA tournament glory.
It was workmanlike. It was blue-collar. It worked.
And until the Terps reach a point where they can thrive on their offensive execution instead of headlong, 1-on-1 drives at the rim and hoisting up first-pass threes, they are going to continue to underperform. And rest assured, right now, this group is underperforming.
Having said that, at the end of the day, Maryland got a win. They knocked off the No. 14 team in the country. The beat the Wolfpack four days after the Wolfpack beat Duke. They got a win that is going to look good on their tournament resume and give them hope and confidence heading into one of the most difficult stretches on their schedule. Three of their next four games are on the road: at North Carolina, at Duke and at Florida State.
They can be excited about this win, but there is still a lot of season to be played and even more work to be done to get better.
“It’s just one game,” Turgeon said. We’re going to celebrate, I was happy for the guys and the sutdents, storming the court and all.”
“[But] we just talked about how we haven’t won a big game since Grieivis Vasquez was here. I didn’t come here to be mediocre. The players didn’t come here to be mediocre. I asked them why they came here. I told them I came here to be a part of something much bigger than myself.”
“I came here to do great things. This is one great thing. Hopefully, this will lead us to other great things.”
You just can’t rely on luck to make that happen.
Dec 21, 2013, 11:53 PM EST
Michigan got 19 points from Nik Stauskas and 17 from Glenn Robinson III as the Wolverines knocked off Stanford 68-65 at the Barclays Center on Saturday night. It was a win that Michigan needed, as they whiffed on four chances to lock down a marquee victory already this season. That’s not to say that Stanford is…
Dec 21, 2013, 11:36 PM EST
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — On a night that saw leading scorers Alex Kirk and Kendall Williams held in check, New Mexico received valuable contributions from a freshman guard and a senior forward. And thanks to those two players the preseason favorite to win the Mountain West picked up a needed non-conference victory for its resume.…
Dec 21, 2013, 10:10 PM EST
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Dec 21, 2013, 8:46 PM EST
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Dec 21, 2013, 8:12 PM EST
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Dec 21, 2013, 7:52 PM EST
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Dec 21, 2013, 6:55 PM EST
Even though No. 5 Michigan State has a number of players dealing with injuries during the early part of this season, it didn’t stop them from earning a big 92-78 road win over Texas on Saturday. Despite battling plantar fasciitis, senior forward Adreian Payne played one of the best games of this college basketball season…
Dec 21, 2013, 6:54 PM EST
In the late stages of Michigan State’s 92-78 win over Texas on Saturday afternoon, Denzel Valentine set up Branden Dawson for one of the year’s best highlights. Valentine tossed an alley-oop off the glass for Dawson, who finished the pass the way that you would expect one of the nation’s best athletes to finish it.
Dec 21, 2013, 6:01 PM EST
Marcus Foster and Thomas Gibson both scored 14 points for Kansas State as the Wildcats knocked off No. 21 Gonzaga 72-62 in Manhattan, KS, on Saturday afternoon. Bruce Weber’s club held Kevin Pangos to 4-for-11 shooting on the night, as he finished with just 12 points and six assists. Sam Dower went down with a…
Dec 21, 2013, 6:01 PM EST
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Dec 21, 2013, 4:50 PM EST
Marcus Foster has been one of the nation’s most underrated freshmen this season, starring for a Kansas State team that has remained well off the national radar. Well, not anymore. Foster is on fire as Kansas State as the Wildcats are currently beating No. 21 Gonzaga. We’ll see if that lead holds, but for now,…
Dec 21, 2013, 4:45 PM EST
Florida State dictated tempo and slowed down unbeaten No. 22 UMass and senior point guard Chaz Williams as the Seminoles held on for a 60-55 victory in the Orange Bowl Classic. Despite a controversial ending that featured a missed foul call on a Cady Lalanne dunk that would have cut UMass’ deficit to a point…
Dec 21, 2013, 3:00 PM EST
Later in the season we’ll all surely have a laugh about how Kansas was once the No. 18 team in the country. This Jayhawks team is far too talented for that ranking and showed how good they can be during a monster second-half surge in its 86-64 win over Georgetown on Saturday afternoon. The Jayhawks…
Dec 21, 2013, 2:47 PM EST
After getting hit in the back of the head by Georgetown’s Nate Lubick, Perry Ellis looked wobbly while shooting a free throw that hit the bottom of the backboard a good three feet to the left of the rim. He pointed to his head after the miss, leaving the game with 18 minutes left in…
Dec 21, 2013, 2:41 PM EST
Julius Randle finished with 29 points and 10 boards and Willie Cauley-Stein chipped in with 16 points and seven boards as No. 19 Kentucky withstood an early three-point barrage to knock off Belmont 93-80. The Bruins were scorching from beyond the arc in the first half, taking a lead that stretched to as much as…
Dec 21, 2013, 2:13 PM EST
Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid put down a ridiculous tip slam during the second half of Kansas’ home game against Georgetown. The Jayhawks are comfortably ahead of the Hoyas late in the second half, and this tip slam is just icing on the cake to a nice non-conference home win for the Jayhawks. Follow @phillipshoops
Dec 21, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
After weeks of speculation, Florida officially announced that transfer center Damontre Harris is officially no longer with the team, according to Kevin Brockway of the The Gainsville Sun. Florida announces C Damontre Harris officially no longer with team.— Kevin Brockway (@gatorhoops) December 21, 2013 Harris transferred to the Gators from South Carolina after averaging 6.8 points, 5.5…
Dec 21, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
Arizona State will get an immediate boost to its rotation as Michigan State transfer Brandan Kearney is eligible to play for the Sun Devils on Saturday against Texas Tech after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. Kearney averaged 2.3 points in 16.9 minutes last season as a sophomore at Michigan State, but…
Dec 21, 2013, 11:20 AM EST
Junior point guard Mike Powell has opted to transfer out of Rhode Island, according to a release from the University. The Chicago native lost his starting job to Texas Tech transfer Biggie Minnis after starting seven of the first nine games this season as Powell was struggling to produce. Powell averaged 2.6 points in 15…
Dec 21, 2013, 10:30 AM EST
If you like dunks, surely you remember high school phenom Seventh Woods’ mixtape from his freshman season last year. Well, the springy sophomore is at it again, this time with an absurd dunk over a defender at the Chik-Fil-A Classic. While the dunk by Woods is obviously fantastic, it might be the reaction of the…
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