COLLEGE PARK -- Starting with a season-opening one-point defeat to Connecticut, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon kept saying how much a difference Seth Allen would have made.
Allen’s return to the lineup Sunday night after sitting out two months with a broken foot showed just how much the struggling Terps missed their sophomore point guard.
Allen, who began practicing Friday after being cleared by doctors, came off the bench to lead the Terps to a much-needed 85-74 victory over Tulsa before an announced 10,251 at Comcast Center.
Allen finished with 15 points in 21 minutes. Junior guard Dez Wells led Maryland (8-5) with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Tulsa's James Woodard had a game-high 25 points.
“Seth Allen did what Seth Allen does, he got us going,” Turgeon said after getting his 300th victory. “He got the rim, he hit a couple of threes, he makes everybody better.”
Said Allen, “It was very exciting. I was anxious. To play with my team again was great. I just wanted to play and see how my foot felt and do as much as I could.”
Allen’s presence seemed to lift the Terps, who fell behind by as many as 15 in the first half (25-10). Five players finished in double figures. Junior guard Nick Faust came off the bench to score 13 points, while junior forward Evan Smotrycz also scored 13. Jake Layman scored 12.
Asked what Allen’s return did for the Terps (8-5), Wells said, “It feels good. It feels great, actually. I can’t really describe the feeling. He got me going. I had no idea the impact he had on me as a player with his presence on the court. It just goes to show you that anybody can be the catalyst.”
Along with the landmark win, it also gave Turgeon some relief from his team’s disappointing start, punctuated by its second non-conference loss at home eight days ago to Boston University. Turgeon wrote “1-0” on the whiteboard after the game to signify a new start for his team.
The game turned early in the second half when Faust bumped violently with a Tulsa player coming upcourt, a play that led to the ejection of Golden Hurricane coach Danny Manning.
When the foul was called on the Golden Hurricane, Manning apparently said something to referee Karl Hess, who called two technicals on the former Kansas star and former teammate of Turgeon.
“I was trying to get Danny to stop because of who he was talking to as a referee,” Turgeon said. “I was hoping one of his assistants would grab him. I didn’t want him to get thrown. I thought we were starting to play well and get control when it happened.”
Layman hit four straight free throws and Allen made two more after he was fouled on the subsequent possession. It gave the Terps a 58-47 lead with 10:32 to go in the game.
“I thought the technical helped us because it gave us a cushion, but I thought it also inspired them,” said Turgeon, who patted Manning on the shoulder as he walked off the court. “I don’t know if it changed things because it gave us four more points. It changes a lot I guess. I hated to see it.”
Manning said after the game that all he said to Hess was “unbelievable” after the foul was called. Manning added that “I wished my team shot more than 10 free throws. The Golden Hurricane made all 10, while the Terps shot 23 of 35 from the line.
As much as Allen and Wells helped the Terps offensively, Graham set the tone defensively. The junior forward, whose role has increased over the last five games, had three blocked shots and altered several others while collecting seven rebounds in 20 minutes.
“I thought Jon Graham was terrific, great hustle plays,” Turgeon said. “I thought [freshman] Damonte [Dodd] in his [first] start did pretty well. I thought our defense was terrific except for two minutes in the second half when we let down in the second half when Danny got his technicals.”
After the game, Turgeon’s victory was celebrated with congratulatory message on the video board from his closest friend in the business, Colorado coach and former Kansas teammate Tad Boyle, along with several former players, including Alex Len.
Turgeon recalled getting his first job at Jacksonville (Ala.) State at age 33.
“I thought I was going to be 300-0,” Turgeon said. “This game humbles you. It took a lot longer than I thought it might. I hope the next 300 come a lot faster.”
NOTES: The Terps honored Len Bias by putting the picture of the late Maryland star on Sunday’s game ticket. Athletic director Kevin Anderson said it was part of the school celebrating the past in its last year in the ACC. There was also a brief ceremony with a video board presentation from former players, including Alex Len, after the game. Maryland plays again Tuesday afternoon against North Carolina Central.
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