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A different kind of senior day on tap for Mark Turgeon and Maryland basketball

COLLEGE PARK — Ever since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014-15, the last home game has been both a celebration for the careers of some of the program’s most accomplished players as well as for the collective success of that year’s team.

Saturday’s noon game against No. 17 Michigan at Xfinity Center will have a different vibe for a number of reasons, mostly because of the kind of season the Terps have had and the careers of the players who’ll be honored.

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The three previous Terps teams went to the NCAA tournament. Barring the Terps winning next week’s Big Ten tournament in New York, the string of three straight NCAA tournament appearances will be over.

Former Maryland men’s basketball player Diamond Stone’s name appears on a document that alleges he received money from an agent while he was in college, according to a report by Yahoo Sports.

​​​​​​The report published Friday by Yahoo Sports alleging that former Terp Diamond Stone was one of more than two dozen college and high school players to receive money from an agent also cast an unwanted spotlight on Maryland’s senior day game.

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Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, whose signing of the five-star prospect helped catapult the Terps to a No. 3 preseason ranking going into Stone’s freshman season in 2015-16, strongly denied any knowledge of the payment or a relationship with the agent in a statement.

The Stone news comes on the heels of one of Turgeon’s toughest seasons in his seven years at Maryland. Turgeon canceled typical pregame press availability Friday afternoon.

Maryland will honor its three seniors before Saturday’s game — backup wing Jared Nickens as well as reserve centers Michal Cekovsky and Sean Obi, who arrived as a graduate transfer this season.

Unlike at recent home finales — from Dez Wells in 2015 to Jake Layman in 2016 to then-junior guard Melo Trimble playing his last home game a year ago — the celebration for this year’s seniors will be muted.

Coming back from 11 down early in the second half, Maryland beats Northwestern to win first Big Ten road game since Dec. 3 at Illinois.

While Nickens and Cekovsky began their careers with promising performances as freshmen, neither progressed to being more than just role players. Obi has played sparingly even with a frontcourt depleted by injuries.

Despite the struggles, Turgeon has been pleased by what he has seen of late, including the team’s first two-game winning streak since Maryland won seven in a row from Dec. 3 to Jan. 2.

“We’ve been playing pretty well for about a month. We really have,” Turgeon said Monday. “That’s really what’s important. You see that the guys believe in each other. We just continue to get better.

“Each player continues to get a little better, so therefore our team gets a little better. We’re playing with more confidence and belief, so yeah it’s good. We get a little time to relax our guys, because they’ve been playing a ton of minutes.”

Turgeon, who according to a team spokesman would comment on the allegations about Stone until after the Michigan game, had a message earlier this week for the team’s dwindling fan base.

It came after Maryland’s 71-64 win at Northwestern on Monday, a game that broke the team’s seven-game road losing streak.

“Hopefully we’ll have a sellout. I think our guys deserve it,” said Turgeon, whose team has attracted just one announced sellout this season, Jan. 28 against then-No. 6 Michigan State. “I think they’ve represented the university the right way all season.”

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