COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon declined to discuss details of an incident during Tuesday night's game that led to Charles Mitchell's banishment from the court.
Turgeon said that he spoke with Mitchell after the game and will talk again Wednesday before making a final determination on any discipline after the sophomore forward got into a confrontation with assistant coach Scott Spinelli.
Guard Dez Wells tried to calm Mitchell down on the bench. He declined to discuss the incident and whether it detracts from the Terps' 64-47 victory over Virginia Tech.
“What happens with us stays with us,” Wells said. “I’m sorry. Everybody has their ups and downs, but I can’t really talk about that.”
Mitchell went to the locker room before returning to the bench — in dress socks — with about eight minutes left in the game.
The banishment – and possible suspension – of Mitchell might have been a much-needed spark for his best friend on the Maryland team, fellow sophomore Shaquille Cleare. It certainly seemed to fire up the rest of the Terps Tuesday night.
After Mitchell was sent to the locker room in the first half of Tuesday’s 64-47 victory over Virginia Tech, Cleare gave one of his best performances of his so-far disappointing career.
Cleare finished made three of four shots to finish with six points, grabbed three rebounds and had a block while playing 17 minutes, most of it in the second half. He showed snippets of the player who was the centerpiece of Turgeon’s second recruiting class.
“I don’t think that’s what it took for him to start playing like that, he played great against Clemson too, he’s just been working hard and just getting better in practice,” said sophomore forward Jake Layman, who led the Terps with 13 points.
“Tonight he got a chance to play a lot of minutes and he really took advantage of it.”
The possibility of Mitchell being suspended for Sunday’s regular season finale against No. 5 Virginia could give Cleare even more of a chance in a bigger game. He had recently lost his backup spot behind Mitchell to freshman Damonte Dodd.
The two might end up getting the bulk of the time against the Cavaliers if Mitchell is suspended. The only other time Turgeon suspended a player for a full game was last year when former Terp Pe’Shon Howard sat out against Duke.
The Terps wound up beating the then No. 2 Blue Devils, Turgeon’s biggest home win in three seasons.
Tuesday night, it almost seemed as if Cleare realized that he wasn’t going to come off the court after three or four minutes, which is usually the case. He also used his 6-9. 270-pound body to wear down Virginia Tech’s thin frontcourt, which had lost backup forward C.J. Barksdale in the first half with an injury.
“It probably felt good for him to know that if he made a mistake, he could play through it,” Layman said.
Said Wells, “He had to step up tonight. That’s what I told him. I told him, ‘C’mon, We need you right now.’ He stepped up and played big minutes.”