CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Heads turned, at least among the Maryland faithful, when Spencer Barks pulled off his red warmup and jogged to the BankUnited Center scorer’s table. Alex Len had just committed a shooting foul, capping off a rough early stretch Sunday night that included three turnovers. So Coach Mark Turgeon turned to his bench, and summoned a little-used walk-on, a 6-foot-9 forward, while Charles Mitchell idled nearby, still without logging any minutes.
“That just stays between us,” Turgeon said. “That’s in-house.”
Turgeon offered that Mitchell sat because of an “immaturity issue,” but declined to provide further detail. He sat Jake Layman for one half before winter break for academic issues, and disclosed those after the game.
Mitchell, on the other hand, played just 12 minutes, missing all three shot attempts and snatching just one rebound.
“Probably shouldn’t have done that, because I’m going to punish him tomorrow,” Turgeon said. “It’s nothing major. We just have to grow up. Charles wasn’t the only one. We had a few issues between the last few games, minor stuff, immaturity stuff, a couple other guys who will be punished tomorrow, who were also punished in substitutions. Not a big deal, just part of a young team trying to find itself.”
Not exactly encouraging for a Maryland group already struggling to reclaim its identity, especially in the wake of consecutive ACC losses.
>> Other than Mitchell’s surprise benching, Turgeon also made a few expected lineup tweaks, giving Seth Allen his second career start over Pe’Shon Howard at point guard.
“Seth’s just been giving us more scoring, so we did that,” Turgeon said.
Allen shot just 2 of 8 from the field, finishing with four points, four fouls and three rebounds, but Howard was worse, missing all five field goal attempts. The junior hasn’t made a field goal in three ACC games, continuing to struggle despite Turgeon’s insistence that he’ll step up offensively. Howard played 17 minutes, while Allen logged 29.
Shaquille Cleare, who was expected to start before being held out of Saturday’s practice with back spasms, played just four minutes. Turgeon wanted to start Cleare alongside Len to give Maryland more length in the post, but that never materialized. Cleare played in one first-half stretch but never returned.
“It’s a guessing game,” Turgeon said, point to the box score. “You look at this. Come on.”
>> Maryland shot less than 40 percent for the fourth time this season. Only against South Carolina State did the Terps shoot that poorly and still win. They also made a season-low eight free throws, missing 10 from the line. Only Dez Wells (3 for 5), James Padgett (1 for 4) and Alex Len (4 for 9) attempted free throws.
“We hit four or five free throws, that would be a difference-maker in the game,” Wells said. “Free throws were our Achilles’ heel today. Especially at the end of games, we have to make free throws. They fouled us a couple times, stopped the clock and we had a chance to cut into the lead a little more, and we left points at the line. Missed 10 free throws at the line. That has to stop.”
>> Maryland entered tied for third nationally in rebounding margin, and outrebounded Miami, 48-44. Turgeon was asked why the Terrapins struggled on the offensive glass in the first half, however, and replied as follows:
“We were a good rebounding team against mid-majors. We outrebounded Virginia Tech because we made a lot of shots and missed a lot. I thought our effort on the boards was pretty good. Thought our defensive rebounding was good. Guards have not been rebounding defensively. That was one area where we really grew up tonight.”
>> Ready for this? Maryland took the following times to reach certain scoring milestones Sunday night:
First points: 1:33 (James Padgett free throw)
First made field goal: 3:57 (Wells layup)
Double-digit points: 13:37 (Nick Faust layup)
Twenty points: 22:21 (Allen layup)
First made jump shot: 25:39 (Layman three-pointer)
Thirty points: 35:55 (Wells layup)
Forty points: 38:40 (Len jumper)
>> Former Terps Coach Gary Williams was in attendance, sitting in the stands near Athletic Director Kevin Anderson.
Families of Faust (two points on 1-for-8 shooting, eight rebounds) and Wells (18 points, five rebounds) made the trip as well.