It was growing late Sunday night at BankUnited Center, and the concerns Mark Turgeon had expressed about the Miami game were being realized.
The Maryland coach had fretted that his young players — “puppies,” he called them — might not be able to hang with Miami's big dogs. The Hurricanes started four seniors against a Maryland lineup that was largely untested, particularly on the road.
The Terps began the game looking as bewildered as Turgeon had feared. After a difficult first half, Maryland threatened, but the Hurricanes hung for a 54-47 victory.
Afterward, Turgeon spoke about his players' “immaturity” — and he wasn't only referring to their performances in the Miami game.
The coach disclosed that he limited freshman Charles Mitchell's playing time Sunday night because of “immaturity” issues. He said other players, too, were guilty of “minor stuff,” but he declined to be specific. Mitchell played 12 minutes and was held scoreless.
“That's in-house,” Turgeon said. “[I] probably shouldn't have done [reduced Mitchell's playing time] because I'm going to punish him tomorrow. But it was nothing major. We've just got to grow up. Charles wasn't the only one. We had a few issues between the last two games — just minor stuff, immaturity stuff. There's a couple other guys that are going to be punished tomorrow, too.”
Miami (12-3, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has now beaten the Terps (13-3, 1-2 ACC) eight times in a row in Coral Gables .
In a rugged defensive game, the Hurricanes limited Maryland to 31.6 percent shooting while shooting just 34.9 percent themselves.
It seemed fitting that the final shot of the game was a missed dunk by Miami's Trey McKinney Jones, who chose to shoot even though there were four seconds left and the Hurricanes had sealed the contest.
“You would expect a game between us to be like in the 70s,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “I think both teams played so hard. It was a very physical, very aggressive game.”
With former coach Gary Williams watching from the stands, Maryland scored just 14 points and shot 21.4 percent in the first half — its lowest-scoring period of the season. The Terps trailed 19-14.
“It was a rough game,” said Maryland's Dez Wells, who led the Terps with 18 points. “I think the score was 12-5 for like seven or eight minutes. As a leader, I just have to look at myself in the mirror and see if it's something I'm doing wrong.”
Wells and center Alex Len (16 points) were Maryland's only effective scorers.
With Maryland continuing to struggle offensively, Miami extended its margin in the second half. Consecutive dunks by senior Julian Gamble — the second with 5:22 remaining — upped the lead to 39-29.
A reverse by Wells and a 3-pointer by Logan Aronhalt pulled the Terps to within 39-34 with 4:01 left.
Maryland's last threat came on a Len dunk that trimmed Miami's advantage to 48-44 with 39 seconds left. The Terps could get no closer after that.
It was a rough night for Turgeon, who was particularly animated. At one point in the first half, he pulled all five starters and inserted a lineup that included little-used Spencer Barks, who has scored six points all year.
Miami started seniors Kenny Kadji (14 points), Durand Scott, Gamble and McKinney Jones. The Hurricanes played without another senior — center Reggie Johnson, out with a broken thumb.
Among Turgeon's goals this season is to make Maryland a formidable road team. The Terps were 1-8 in away games last season. Before Sunday night, Maryland had played its past eight games at home.
Miami entered the game undefeated (6-0) at BankUnited Center. The Hurricanes were giving up just 59.2 points per game through its 14 games — fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Terps committed 15 turnovers to Miami's eight.
“We're so young,” Wells said. “All those other teams have seniors at the guard positions that have been making these decisions for three or four years.”
Turgeon's frustration seemed to mount whenever Maryland turned the ball over. After Wells was called for charging in the second half, Turgeon mimicked making a bounce pass to show the player that he should have given up the ball.
Turgeon had planned to go with a big lineup to combat Miami's size. But freshman center Shaquille Cleare — who was to start in the frontcourt along with Len — suffered back spasms during Saturday's practice. Cleare did not start and played four minutes.
Turgeon also did not start Pe'Shon Howard at point guard for only the second time this season. Howard still played 17 minutes but was 0-for-5 from the floor after going a combined 0-for-8 in his previous two games. Freshman Seth Allen started instead and scored four points.
“We're a young basketball team — we're a whole new basketball team,” Turgeon said. “Our veterans are our sophomores. We're going to have to go through some stuff. We're going to be all right. I don't know when, but we're going to be all right.”