Rare photo of Nick Faust against Virginia Tech. He played only five minutes because of back spasms. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post) Rare photo of Nick Faust against Virginia Tech. He played only five minutes because of back spasms. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

In retrospect, Coach Mark Turgeon was a shrewd decision-maker Saturday afternoon, making the last-minute call to start Jake Layman over Nick Faust in Maryland’s ACC opener against Virginia Tech. Layman starred, scoring a career-high 20 points, including 18 in the first half, as the Terrapins routed the Hokies, 94-71.

When Layman’s No. 10 went onto the scoreboard instead of Faust’s No. 5, widespread confusion ensued. Turgeon has earned the trust of many Terrapins fans since arriving in College Park, but even this seemed curious. Layman had struggled the past few games, while Faust had started all but one game for Maryland this season.

As it turns out, the decision was easy. Faust was limited in practice this week with back spasms, sitting out Friday morning’s session altogether. A Maryland athletics spokesman reported that Faust got “nicked up” but was available. Yet the sophomore guard played just five minutes, his back cramping up again, the pain spreading to his left shoulder. Faust went into the locker room with about seven minutes remaining in the first half, returning only to sit on the bench with an ice pack and watch his teammates win their 13th straight game.

Not that Faust’s absence mattered much. Layman was on fire early, Seth Allen broke out with a career-high 21 points and Maryland strung together its most impressive win this season. Faust arrived at Comcast Center almost five hours before tip-off, at 7:30 a.m. for an early workout. During pregame warmups, when asked by Turgeon about his status, Faust replied that there was no pain. Then things worsened during live action, and Faust was left to watch.

“From everything I’ve been told, it’s just muscle spasms,” Turgeon said. “I expect him to relax, get treatment all day tomorrow. I think when he got in the game it just tightened up.”

Turgeon expects Faust, who was scoreless in his limited action but still ranks third on the team with 9.1 points and 2.9 assists per game, to return for Tuesday’s home matchup against Florida State.

“He’ll be ready,” Turgeon said. “Nick will work around the clock to get ready.”

Around an hour after the final buzzer, Faust took to Twitter, expressing confidence in his return. By and large, the Terps have been healthy through nonconference play. Only John Auslander, the 11th player in Turgeon’s rotation, has missed a game. He’s out for the season with a broken tibia.