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December 13, 2013

Peters earning Turgeon's trust

For anyone that missed the first nine games of Roddy Peters' collegiate career, the freshman point guard did a pretty good job summing them up in the opening 90 seconds of Maryland's 88-80 win over Boston College last night.

Peters and his slow feet were called for a lazy foul 11 seconds into the game after head coach Mark Turgeon had stressed restraint against the No. 1 free throwing shooting team in the nation. Nine seconds later, Peters was already at the free throw line after he used a crossover to slice into the lane. He knocked down both attempts.

After the Eagles answered with a pair of free throws of their own, Peters dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds no more than 10 feet from his head coach. A few possessions later, Peters grabbed a steal and pushed the fast break. And then he was gone, subbed out for Nick Faust.

"Really the first three plays has been him; the ups and downs of being a freshman," Turgeon said on Friday.

But while he was yanked just over three minutes into his third start, Peters had already begun to show signs that maybe he is starting to warrant a longer leash. Not only had he already notched a steal, but he had buckled down on defense and contested a corner three on the play following his turnover. A week ago in Columbus, that probably would have resulted in a wide-open look.

"I tried to let him play through mistakes at Ohio State but there were just multiple," Turgeon said. "I told him, I said, 'you can't make mistakes at both ends. You turned it over against Ohio State and then you went down and didn't guard anybody. You can't do both.'"

Turgeon said that his freshman point guard made defensive strides last night. The physical mistakes like the game-opening foul were there, but Peters' improving help side defense and awareness suggest that he is starting to get a more conceptual grasp of a college defense, Turgeon implied.

The turnovers, however, remain an issue. Peters gave it away three times in Boston and is still averaging 2.8 turnovers per game. According to Kenpom.com, Peters is turning it over on 33.7 percent of his possessions, which is second worst in the ACC.

"Last night he guarded, so the turnovers didn't stick out as much," said Turgeon. "As long as he's doing one or the other, he can play through mistakes."

Peters played 26 minutes last night, his high mark on the season. His ability to stay on the floor enabled Dez Wells to concentrate on getting buckets, which came in droves in the second half against a sagging Boston College defense. Wells had a career-high 33 points and Peters kicked in 14 of his own, also a career best.

The duo combined for 29 of Maryland's 46 second half points. Boston College was able to erase an early 12-point lead and eventually went ahead in the second half, but Wells made sure it didn't last.

"It was one of those nights where he saw it, everybody felt it," Turgeon said. "He got going early in transition and he had a little bounce in his step."

"When we got in the half court, we talked about taking good shots. If we didn't get a good shot, just getting out of Dez's way and letting him drive it and our whole team did a good job of letting Dez do his thing driving the ball and getting good spacing for him. You try to stay out of his way when he's doing that."

Turgeon has tinkered with his lineup in recent weeks, looking for a combination that would lead to efficiency on offense. While it wasn't perfect, last night's 55.2-percent shooting effort was a good start, especially if Peters' play was a sign of things to come for the Terps.

"He's coming," Turgeon said of his freshman. "He's gaining confidence. He's played a lot of minutes, and he's played well. And we need him to. He knows that."

Allen still on track for January return

Injured point guard Seth Allen underwent X-rays this week on his broken left foot, six weeks after he landed awkwardly on it in practice. Turgeon said that the check-up went well and that "everything is still progressing" on schedule. Turgeon said Allen has been able to take the protective boot off and walk around in sneakers for portions of the day.

The eight to 10 week timetable initially given on Allen's injury is still intact, according to Turgeon, putting his return sometime between Christmas and the first week of January. The Terps play Tulsa on December 29 and North Carolina Central on New Year's Eve. They resume ACC play on January 4 at home against Georgia Tech.

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