Len Injures Ankle as Temple Tops Maryland at the Palestra, 73-60

Terrell Stoglin scored 20, but Alex Len had to leave the game with injury and Temple got a combined 40 points from Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt, as the Owls topped Maryland 73-60 at the Palestra.

Stoglin had an even game, with 10 points in both halves and a relatively efficient 6-13 performance from the field. Pe'Shon Howard pitched in 15 points in an up-and-down showing. Len left mid-way through the first half with an ankle injury and din't return, which hurt Maryland's frontcourt advantage. Wyatt, Moore, and Juan Fernandez accounted for 54 of Temple's 73 points, largely thanks to a combined 7-16 shooting performance from beyond-the-arc.

The first half was one of the sloppiest twenty minutes of basketball I've seen this year - and that's saying a lot, because I've watched every Maryland game. The Terrapins had as many turnovers as made field goals (10 on both counts); Temple, with 8 TOs of their own, wasn't much better. Maryland entered the half only down three at 32-29, largely thanks to 10 efficient points from Terrell Stoglin. The biggest story of the first half might actually have been Alex Len, who left the game midway through the first with an ankle injury and wouldn't return.

The Owls came out of the gates firing in the second half, scoring eight consecutive points to push their lead to 11. Maryland would fight to keep it close, and eventually was rewarded: a 9-0 run (part of a larger 16-5 stretch) would bring the Terrapins within one. Temple came back with a run of their own, scoring six unanswered to push the lead back up to seven. Maryland would make some shots down the stretch - including a few big threes - but Temple had an answer every time. In the end, the Terrapins just couldn't string together enough positive plays, and Temple held on for a 13-point victory that, frankly, wasn't quite indicative of how close this was at times.

This is a more frustrating loss than Maryland's had to suffer in the past. I'm not sure Temple was that much better in terms of roster talent than the Terrapins; the problems here were more in terms of execution than anything else. Perimeter defense. Free throw shooting. Rebounding - dear Juan, rebounding. Temple was the better team and deserved to win by a fair margin, but Maryland had their shots to win and never took them.

A few stats: Maryland shot 57% from the line. They turned the ball over 16 times. Temple shot 41% from three. And, most damningly of all, the Owls matched Maryland on the glass: the Terps had a small 28-27 advantage, but only because Temple took more shots. The Owls won the offensive glass, 8 to 7, despite being a mediocre-at-best rebounding team coming into the game.

The injury to Len hurt, sure. It hurt it a lot. But Maryland still probably had the better frontcourt, and never looked to utilize it. Temple's guards were too good to let them win the battle in the post, too.

I haven't seen word on how long Len will be out. If it's for any serious period of time, Maryland's frontcourt just took a huge blow. Things will probably be largely, or perhaps entirely, dependent on guard play, particularly Stoglin and Howard. But major changes will need to be made regardless of Len's status. We know that things have gone too far to expect much better free throw shooting. That's obvious. But turnovers need to cut down. There needs to be more offensive movement. (More on that in a minute.) And perimeter defense needs to continue to improve - rotation was sloppy against Temple, and letting snipers have space on the ball is a recipe for disaster.

No Terrapin looked truly good. We saw a lot of bright spots and a lot of negatives, almost right down the line. Look, for instance, at Pe'Shon Howard. We've been crying out for a secondary scorer, and today Howard came up big: he had a huge 15 points, many of them coming while Stoglin was on the bench in foul trouble. That was important, and a good sign.

But he failed at his perhaps more necessary point guard duties. Far too often he was the only player in a possession to touch the ball. He launched multiple unnecessary threes, one of which was a worse shot than anything we've seen out of Stoglin all year long. He had only a single assist (to two turnovers) and struggled to control the pace. That's what Maryland really needs out of its point guard right now, and it's where Howard has struggled.

I'm actually having some trouble figuring out what Mark Turgeon wants Howard's role to be. Is he supposed to be that secondary scorer? Or a true point guard? Because I think he can be one, or he can be the other, but I'm not sure he can be both. When Maryland looked for him to get points, he basically just looked like another Stoglin. Everyone's standing around and watching him. I can deal with that for one guy, but not two. If that's going to be him, then the Terrapins need to find another true point guard who can, in fact, control the pace and get the offense into its sets.

Stoglin was Stoglin - he looked very good most of the time and had some utterly boneheaded plays at others. I'm fine with that - he's good enough to do it, and Maryland relies upon his scoring ability. Nick Faust is a more interesting development - it looks like he's finally figured out that he's at his best off the dribble slashing toward the rim, and he actually does look great in that facet. But his free throw shooting is obviously still developing, and his stroke is still not good enough for him to make even open jumpers. Still, this was another step in the right direction for Nick.

Sean Mosley will be a point of contention. Offensively, he was awful. And I mean worse than we've seen before. He bricked a dunk, missed a few open layups, and finished the day 0-5 from the field. Then again, he also had 10 rebounds (sometimes the only guy on the floor to look active on the glass), with two steals and a charge or two. Mosley is who Mosley is - he's going to have the occasional big offensive day. But he won't do it regularly. What he will do regularly is play good defense and rebound, and he did do that again today.

And while we're on personnel, interesting side note: Berend Weijs didn't play in the second half. I don't know why.

Maryland had their cracks to win, but I don't think they deserved to win in any sense of the word. Temple did, even though I'm not sure the Owls are really that much better talent-wise. So it hurts, again. We knew this was going to be a tough year, and these are still building block games, but it's tougher to be optimistic in the face of tough losses like today and Tuesday night against Florida State. Improvement is still a key, and that's what you have to look for the rest of this season.

Things get much tougher this week, with the Duke on Wednesday. If things are going to get better, it'd be nice if it happened quickly.

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