Some basketball games should not be played. Last night's Maryland-Boston University mess was just such a game.
With the Terrapins jumping to a 17-4 lead before the noncontest was six minutes old, the action had all the suspense of a bad tea-time movie as Maryland rolled to a 99-76 victory.
Worse, the outing cost the eighth-ranking Terps, now 18-4, a kep operative, wing guard Greg Manning. With 9:45 left in the first half Manning appeared to step wrong running down court and suffered a badly sprained right ankle. He will be examined further this morning although x-rays last night were negative.
How long Manning will be out is a question mark. The Terps have another prospective walkover against East Carolina on Wednesday but must travel to Duke on Saturday to try to clinch the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title. They lead Clemson and North Carolina by two games with three to play.
"I'm really not sure what happened," Manning said. "I think I stepped on somebody's foot or somebody stepped on mine. I'm not sure. All I know is all of a sudden I was down."
Manning was carried from the floor to the bench. A few minutes later he went to the dressing room, and appeared to be walking under his own power.
"It felt okay at first but then when I got in here it tightened and started swelling," he said. Manning was taken to the university infirmary for X-rays and returned to sit on the Maryland bench, using crutches, during the second half.
Manning left the game with eight points (four of five shooting) and the Terps leading 27-16.
Albert King made certain the Pennsylvania sharpshooter was not missed, at least for this night, amassing a career-high 32 points in 31 minutes on eight of 11 from the floor and 16 of 17 from the foul line. King's miss in the first half from the line ended a streak of 30 consecutive free throws, a single-season Maryland record.
Enest Graham followed with 19 points; Buck Williams had 16 and 16 rebounds and Reggie Jackson had 11. BU got 23 points from Einstein graduate Steve Wright and 16 from Glenn Consor. The Terriers are 17-4 for the year, their wins coming over the likes of C. W. Post, Charleston and Siena.
The talk after the game was not of the nonterrifying Terriers. It was of Manning and what his loss could mean to the Terps.
"It's hard to replace a great player like Greg," said Jackson, who will probably move to Manning's wing guard spot if the 6-foot-2 junior can not play. "He does so many things for us. He's our clutch shooter from outside. He's an integral part or our offense. And he's been our quiet leader all season."
Coach Lefty Driesell tried to look at the bright side.
"I'm not going to talk about him being out until I know he's out," Driesell said. "I've been coaching 25 years and sometimes if you can keep the swelling down you can come right back from a sprained ankle."
If Manning cannot play. Driesell said, Dutch Morley would probably start at Jackson's point guard spot with Jackson moving to Manning's position. But he also talked of moving Graham back to guard and going with a "big" lineup that would include Taylor Baldwin at center.
"Injuries are part of the game," Driesell said, predictably. "That's what you have substitutes for, in case someone gets hurt."
Maryland's subs drew a good deal of playing time last night. Once the Terps had established that 17-4 lead, play was pretty much garbage time the rest of the way. The 11,664 in Cole Field House were treated to a lot of run-gun and put-up-anything basketball.
BU made sure the game was no contest by shooting 37 percent. Maryland hit 63 percent but had a sloppy 20 turnovers.
"There's a tendency to relax and get kind of loose when you get a big lead that early," King said. "It can be hard to keep your concentration."
After a relative smooth 48-34 first half, the Terps built several leads of 26 points the second 20 minutes.
Driesell cleared his bench and the reserves let BU get within 79-65 with 4:40 left. Driesell called time and the starters returned.
"My fault," Driesell said. "The subs hadn't played for a while and I put them all in at once. They looked kind of ragged so I had to take them out.