BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In the moments after Jalen Smith finished the best game of his career, the 19-year-old Maryland sophomore gestured toward the Indiana crowd, pointed to the court, tapped the school’s logo and pointed back toward himself.
“The adrenaline was pumping, and I let my emotions get the best of me,” Smith said. “I apologize to all their fans. Indiana has a great crowd. … I just lost my emotions. I couldn’t control them. I’ve got to do a better job the next game.”
Turgeon opened his postgame news conference by apologizing to Indiana’s players, Coach Archie Miller and the Hoosiers’ fans.
“It’s very uncharacteristic of Jalen,” Turgeon said. “If you knew him, he’s a great kid.”
Smith scored a career-high 29 points and added 11 rebounds. The Baltimore native had Maryland’s game-winning layup with 14 seconds left. Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis had a good look for a layup as time expired, but he missed.
Smith’s confidence has surged and rightly so. His career-best performance at Indiana followed a standout game Tuesday at Northwestern, where he scored 25 points, which at the time was a career high.
With a strong start, the Terrapins jumped to a lead as large as 14 points during the first half. But the Hoosiers surged in the second half, scoring on their first 11 possessions. Suddenly, the Terps had fallen into an eight-point hole. Indiana still held a seven-point lead with 2:37 to go before Maryland finished its dramatic comeback.
Following the game, Turgeon said Smith got caught up in the emotion of the moment.
“He’s playing his tail off,” Turgeon said. “He’s just been phenomenal — offensively, defensively, decision-making. So he just [got] caught up in it, and this arena is just terrific and it kind of gets you fired up to play in it. And I just think guys were so happy how they handled such a tough environment and just kept fighting all the way till the end.”