Mark Turgeon and Terps embracing challenge of playing at Ohio State

The Baltimore Sun

Mark Turgeon was on the road recruiting this summer when the schedule for this season's ACC-Big Ten Challenge was announced. He remembers his initial reaction when he learned that the Terps were going on the road for the second straight year.

“I was [ticked],” Turgeon said after practice Tuesday at Comcast Center.

A few minutes before learning the matchup, Turgeon had been with Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, who predicted that the Terps would be sent on the road. The Panthers has been kept out of the Big East-SEC event entirely after it was announced they were leaving for the ACC.  

“‘You’re going on the road, you just don’t know it,” Turgeon recalled Dixon telling him. “And literally 10 minutes later I got a phone call saying, ‘You’re going on the road.’ At that time I didn’t know if it was Ohio State or somebody else.”

As the Terps get ready for their trip to Columbus to play the No. 5 Buckeyes at the Value City Center on Wednesday, Turgeon is taking a different approach. 

“It’s good for us,” he said. “We’re much more prepared today than we were a month ago. I’m looking forward to seeing where we are. ... We went down to the Paradise Jam, we had to have it, we took care of business.

“I wouldn’t say we have to [win] this game, but we need to play well in a big-time environment and act, even without Seth [Allen] out there, [like] we’re much more mature and much further along than we were last year. Even though we went to Northwestern [in last year’s Challenge] and won, this is a whole different animal, a whole different game.”

Criticized a year ago for playing too soft a non-conference schedule, the Terps are more battle-tested after playing Connecticut at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. to open the season and winning the Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands last week.

“If you look at our schedule, it’s really a good schedule,” Turgeon said. “It continues to look better, the teams we play coming up are all good teams. It gives us a chance. We don’t have to be perfect. The better teams we play make us better.”

Asked if winning at Ohio State would be a statement to the rest of the Big Ten about Maryland coming in next season, Turgeon said, “No, I think the statement  would be is that you’re playing a top 5 team on the road, arguably the last four or five years one of the best teams in the country. Really that’s the statement, just to see where you are.”

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