"I understand Turgeon's position, but you've got to let some of them work through it," Allen's mother said. "You lose your confidence when every time you make a mistake you're going to get pulled."

Turgeon said Allen "wasn't very coachable at first. But he realized that I was going to win — and he wasn't — so he's become a lot more coachable."

The youngest of four children, Allen selected Maryland partly so he could remain close to his tight-knit family. He was also recruited by Virginia and VCU, among other schools.

Allen's brother, Brandon, 25, an insurance agent, painted a picture of Allen in his No. 4 jersey with his arms held high. Brandon Allen holds the painting up during home games so the crowd can see.

In Allen, Maryland believes it may have a less-developed version of Shane Larkin, the sophomore Miami point guard who averages 13.1 points. Larkin leads the ACC in steals (2.1 per game) and is fourth in assists (4.3 per game).

"I made that comparison when we first started practicing," Turgeon said. "Larkin was really fast and Seth has some speed. I think there's a lot of comparisons now. The difference is Larkin is under control most of the time, if not all of the time, and Seth's not yet."

Allen trails only Nick Faust on the Terps with 24 steals. Allen said he played cornerback in football and became skilled at timing his break on the ball.

Football also brought out Allen's inherent toughness. "He's a football guy. He's got those leadership skills," said former Virginia Tech basketball coach Seth Greenberg, now an ESPN commentator.

The ball seems to find its way into Allen's hands at the end of games.

Against Florida State on Jan. 9, Allen's 3-pointer was blocked with two seconds remaining and the Terps trailing by one basket in a 65-62 defeat.

On Feb. 16, he had his signature moment against Duke when he drove the ball and stepped to the foul line of a tie game with 2.8 seconds left.

The sellout crowd went silent as he shot. Seated across from the Maryland bench, his mother said she could not bear to look.

But Allen could hardly have been calmer.

"Oh yeah, I had a smile," he said. "I was relaxed. It was mainly because Nick [Faust] just made me laugh. It was just an inside joke. We shot a bunch of free throws before the game so I was pretty comfortable in my routine."

If Turgeon didn't appreciate Allen already, he did after those made shots.

"He was a very confident player with 2.8 seconds left," the coach said. "Which was nice."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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