During halftime of Saturday night's game against No. 2 Duke at Comcast Center, Maryland freshman point guard Seth Allen gave himself a little pep talk.
Not only had his Duke counterpart, sophomore Quinn Cook, scored 11 points, but Allen was scoreless. Allen had taken just one shot and had not done much to help the Terps take a one-point halftime lead.
"The first half, I was just really trying to defend as much as I could, get guys into it [the offense], I didn't really shoot that much the first half," said Allen, who started at point guard for only the second time in the Terps' last seven games. "The second half, I was more aggressiive, I just attacked a little more."
If sophomore center Alex Len's 19 points and nine rebounds helped Maryland take as much as a 10-point lead in the second half, Allen's 16 second-half points enabled the Terps to beat the Blue Devils, 83-81.
Allen's two free throws off a drive with 2.8 seconds left provided the winning points.
"Seth made a good run at the end pressuring them," said sophomore guard Nick Faust (City), who started the previous three games at point guard. "He's a great driver and he went right by them or got fouled."
Unlike some of his other wildly erratic performances this season, Allen overcame a team-high eight turnovers — tying a season-high — to give Maryland the offensive boost it needed when foul trouble put Len and sophomore swingman Dez Wells on the bench. Wells fouled out with 38 seconds to go.
"He made a lot of plays late, and he is hard to keep in front of you," second-year coach Mark Turgeon said of Allen, whose second-half defense on Cook (2 of 7 after going 4 of 9 in the first half) was nearly negated by a 40-footer at the buzzer that hit the back of the rim.
Turgeon had a simple message for his point guard about his turnovers.
"He said, 'just keep playing through 'em, that's a big test to your maturity, doing the next play,' " Allen said. "I just tried to have amnesia and keep playing the next play every time."
Asked about his turnovers, Allen said: "I don't know what was going on. I just wanted to make a play so much, I was trying to explode to the basket. My shoe fell off, I was slipping, there were times on outlet passes when I was just fumbling [the ball]. I just got to be more focused [late in the game]."
Allen was focused at the foul line. His final two free throws gave him 7 of 8 for the game after a week when he and the rest of his teammates took 500 free throws each. Allen said he hit "427, or something like that."
"I just comfortable in my routine and knock them down," Allen said about his free-throw shooting in the game.
He might have to get comfortable in his role as a point guard again.
It's something that Turgeon has waffled about all season because he thought those responsibilties put too much pressure on Allen and took away from his natural role as a scorer.
It seems likely that Allen will be the point guard for the rest of the season — or at least Tuesday night at Boston College.
Turgeon, who suspended junior point guard Pe'Shon Howard for Saturday's game — and possibly longer — for breaking unspecified team rules, was proud of a player who showed off his athleticism and fearlessness on Saturday night against Duke.
"The kid grew up tonight," Turgeon said.