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December 30, 2013

Allen sore, will play against N.C. Central

Despite a satisfying and much-needed 11-point win over Tulsa, Mark Turgeon couldn't afford much sleep on Sunday night with another dangerous matchup looming just over 36 hours away. Instead, the third-year coach celebrated with some late night film study that centered on North Carolina Central (7-3) and superstar guard Jeremy Ingram.

It's a shame, because the mind-easing performances have been few and far between for Maryland this year and last night was definitely one of them. Not only did the Terps protect the basketball (10 turnovers) and defend well (Tulsa shot 38 percent), but they also got Seth Allen back and man, did he look good (15 points in 21 minutes).

Speaking of Allen, the sophomore guard suffered a kick to the still-healing bone in his left foot early in the second half last night that had him in pain this morning. He spent most of the day undergoing treatment on the foot instead of practicing with his teammates, but Turgeon said they expect him to be ready to go against N.C. Central on Tuesday afternoon at the Comcast Center.

"He got kicked right on the bone, right on the spot," Turgeon said on a Monday afternoon conference call. "If that didn't happen he probably wouldn't be in a lot of pain… He's been feeling better as the day has gone on. We expect Seth to play. We expect him to feel well."

After starting the second half, Allen was forced to exit just three minutes in. The Maryland training staff applied some heat to the bone on the sideline and he returned about seven minutes later to help the Terps close out the Hurricane. Allen worked on a non-weight bearing treadmill on Monday in an effort to get ready for Tuesday's New Year's Eve matinee against the Eagles.

Beyond the minor setback, Allen suffered from fatigue down the stretch last night. Turgeon did not intend to play his point guard 21 minutes against Tulsa, but after falling behind by 15 early and with Allen showing minimal rust, he was inclined to go with the hot hand. Allen will again come off the bench on Tuesday, according to Turgeon, who added that Jonathan Graham would likely get a much-deserved start at center.

As for when Allen can expect to start, Turgeon said, "Depends on how quickly he can get in shape. He's really out of shape. It's amazing what he was able to do last night… Eventually Seth will work his way back into the starting lineup."

Allen and his backcourt mates will have their hands full with North Carolina Central, who features the third leading scorer in the country in Ingram (24.6 points per game). A 6-foot-3 senior, Ingram dropped 37 on Wichita State before Christmas and has made a habit out of getting to the free throw line, attempting 114 tries from the charity stripe (eighth in the nation) and converting on 82 (15th).

Besides hanging with the Shockers last week, the Eagles also beat North Carolina State on the road in November and played at Cincinnati in their season opener. With the trouble opposing guards have given Maryland this season - think Roberto Nelson, D.J. Irving and James Woodard on Sunday - the Terps will need to focus on containing Ingram and playmaking point guard Emanuel Chapman (7.4 assists per game).

"Their guards are good," Turgeon said. "They run a ton of sets. With only one day to prepare, you've got to rely on your defensive principles."

"Ingram is pretty special," he added. "We have talked about this kid a lot… Not only Nick [Faust] and Dez [Wells], but everybody has to give this kid some attention. If he's going to get 25 tomorrow night, he's got to do it on 20 or 22 shots. He's good, he's going to get his points, but he's got to earn them."

Turgeon expects the return of Allen and the emerging depth within his front line to have a positive impact on the team's defense, which has struggled mightily this year without Alex Len. Damonte Dodd started last night and it sounds like Graham will start tomorrow.

"What it's done is we've created some pretty good competition there," Turgeon said. "For example, Charles and Shaq didn't play as much as the other two did last night and they were in the gym early today and stayed late."

A month ago, Turgeon was hesitant to make drastic lineup alterations, at one point sticking with Shaquille Cleare as a starter in fear that a change would crush his confidence. Five losses later, that strategy has gone out the window.

"There's really not any pressure on any of [our bigs] to go out and give us 20 points or do this or do that," he said. "They just have to go out and play hard and help our team win."

If they do, maybe Turgeon, fresh off his 300th win, can start to get some sleep.


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