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Terps have big problems in 84-70 loss to Florida State

Seminoles' tall frontcourt too much for Maryland to overcome

By Jeff Barker

12:09 AM EST, January 18, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.

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Sean Mosley was limping, Alex Len was scoreless and in early foul trouble, and the Terps had surrendered way too many second-chance points in the first half against imposing Florida State to suit coach Mark Turgeon.

It was evident from the outset that Maryland faced plenty of oversized obstacles -- notably Florida State's inside strength -- Tuesday night at the Tucker Center. Len, the talented but inexperienced 7-foot-1 center, looked somehow diminished against the Seminoles' big frontcourt.

The Terps hung in during the first half before giving way to the Seminoles' size -- and two timely 3-pointers by Deividas Dulkys -- in an 84-70 Florida State victory.

"We had two keys -- transition defense and keeping them off the boards," a frustrated Turgeon said. He said his young team had periods when it didn't accomplish either of them.

Maryland, which had key players hampered by fouls, was led by Terrell Stoglin's 27 points. Len (three points), James Padgett (eight points) and Pe'Shon Howard (four points) finished with four fouls. Len was limited to 18 minutes and Padgett to 19.

Turgeon suggested Len -- a freshman still feeling his way in just his seventh game -- was too passive.

"He only had one [defensive] play all game where he looked like Alex. He's got to play better," Turgeon said.

The coach said he "can't even get him [Len] to shoot the ball." Len was 1-for-2 from the field.

With the game tied at 40, Stoglin had scored exactly half of Maryland's points. The Terps took their first lead of the game early in the second half on a drive by Len -- his first field goal of the game.

But consecutive 3-pointers by Dulkys -- who was coming off an other-worldly shooting game in which he scored 32 points on 12 of 14 from the field against North Carolina -- gave the Seminoles a 55-45 lead that quickly ballooned. Dulkys, chased around by Mosley, had been held scoreless in the first half.

Mosley (St. Frances) was noticeably limping at times on the same ankle he had injured during the offseason.

Said Stoglin: "It started getting away from us. They're a big team. At the end of the game, they began to dominate us."

Maryland had known it would be in for a test against Florida State's pressure defense. As usual, the Seminoles -- who recruit particularly for size and length to suit coach Leonard Hamilton's defensive systems -- lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in field-goal percentage defense.

The Seminoles (12-6, 3-1) were led defensively Tuesday night by 6-foot-10 center Bernard James, a 26-year-old shot blocker who served with the Air Force in southern Iraq. James, 7-footer Jon Kreft and 6-foot-11 Xavier Gibson posed a big test for Len, who hadn't scored in Maryland's previous game and was held without a field goal in the first half Tuesday night.

Turgeon said James "looked like a man among boys. Alex is 19 [years old]."

Maryland (12-5, 2-2) had won nine of 10 games. But it was only the Terps' second ACC road game, and the team had a quicker-than-usual turnaround -- two games in three days.

Turgeon was well acquainted with the Seminoles. His Texas A&M team had lost, 57-50, to Florida State in the second round of last season's NCAA tournament.

The Seminoles asserted themselves inside immediately, scoring their first three baskets in the paint. They finished with 42 points in the paint, compared with Maryland's 32.

Twice, the Seminoles beat Maryland's defense downcourt in the first half for easy transition points -- a pet peeve of Turgeon's.

But Maryland hung around, thanks to Stoglin's scoring. His three foul shots cut Florida State's early lead to 34-33. The Seminoles led 36-33 at halftime.

The Terps next face their final nonconference game of the regular season when they travel to play Temple on Saturday at Philadelphia's Palestra.

jebarker@baltsun.com

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