It all seemed so familiar to Darren Berkley. As the varsity boys’ basketball coach at Fredericksburg Christian School, he had seen this before, elbowing nearby assistants on the bench whenever his star did something spectacular. So as shot after shot fell through the net Saturday afternoon, Berkley found himself again nudging his friends as they kicked back to watch the Seth Allen Show.
“It looked like Seth back in high school,” Berkley said, and given the way he had stuffed the box score, Allen later agreed it felt similar, too. In Maryland’s 83-71 win over Florida State, Berkley’s former pupil scored 32 points, 11 more than his career high. He made seven three-pointers, attacked the rim with an athleticism unseen since he returned from a broken foot and, when the Seminoles’ defense collapsed, made dazzling passes, too. By the end, he looked every bit the dominant player Berkley once knew and the one Maryland needed him to become.
“That was a pretty high level,” Coach Mark Turgeon said.
Later, Allen deflected credit to his fellow Terrapins, the same ones who spent most of the game watching Allen take over. But to him, hitting 11 of 15 shots was simply a matter of revenge. Maryland had waited four weeks to flip the script on a Florida State team that had blown out the Terps by 24 points in Tallahassee.
“The win felt even better because they beat the crap out of us last game,” said Allen, who was 0 for 8 in the earlier game at Florida State, missing all six of his three-point attempts. “We came in with a chip on our shoulder.”
Everything the Terps (14-10, 6-5 ACC) did poorly Jan. 12 at the Donald L. Tucker Center was fixed Saturday afternoon. They defended the perimeter well, hit free throws (19 for 23), set strong screens and even produced a layup off an inbounds play. Before long, the game had devolved into a laugher, filled with lob passes converted into twisting dunks and enough smiles to fill a photo album.
Yet Florida State (14-9, 5-6), playing without arguably its best player in guard Ian Miller, found ways to hang around. It allowed 46 points before halftime, its most in any game this season, but took advantage of some sudden Maryland sloppiness to whittle the deficit to single digits.
Then, with the Terps up 80-71 and looking as lethargic as they did in a loss at North Carolina on Tuesday night, sophomore Jake Layman dived for a loose ball in the back court and forced a turnover. The announced crowd of 14,783 roared. Layman, who scored 12 points, stared back at them and clapped. “Big time,” Turgeon called it later, after Dez Wells (15 points) had sunk enough free throws to ice Maryland’s third win in four games.
Really, though, any second-half dramatics were dwarfed by Allen. At Fredericksburg Christian, Berkley ran a spread offense, allowing Allen to work off high ball screens, and he said he has never seen a player better at knifing through small spaces to generate points. But most of Allen’s damage was done along the perimeter in his own personal game of around-the-world. He pulled up in transition. He curled off picks and fired. On the one bad shot he took in the first half, he got fouled and made all three free throws.
“I passed up a lot of early shots,” Allen said. “Like [assistant coach Bino Ranson] says, ‘The basketball gods are going to reward you.’ When I passed up shots, they came back to me.”
Said Layman, “When he was on fire, we didn’t care when he shot it.”
After the game was over, Allen idled in the stands where Berkley once sat. He snapped photos with his niece, who sometimes likes to play basketball with her Uncle Seth, and his nephew, who for now is too young to do so. As the family left, Allen grabbed a basketball and shot another three-pointer. It bounced off the rim, so Allen tracked it down and, from near the Maryland bench, shot again.
“Good,” he said, walking off the court.
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John Feinstein: Turgeon sees improvement for Maryland
Terrapins Insider: Maryland gets revenge against Florida State