Maryland-Tulsa recap: Comeback kid Allen leads Terps past Tulsa

Streeter Lecka

Maryland overcomes another awful start to beat Golden Hurricane

Seth Allen provided some offensive fireworks in his long-awaited injury return, Dez Wells led the way with 18 points, and Maryland overcame yet another very ugly start to stop hot-shooting Tulsa, 85-74.

Allen played heavy minutes and finished with 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting, while Nick Faust (13), Evan Smotrycz (13) and Jake Layman (12) all finished in double digits.

For the second straight game, the Terps looked, in a word, awful, at the outset. However, a furious rally in the closing portion of the first half knotted the game at 35 and essentially gave Maryland a reboot after the intermission.

Unlike that Boston U game we're all trying to block out of our memories, this time Maryland took full advantage of its second life, played fluid basketball after halftime, and tried to put an inferior opponent away. Maryland's pull-away started around the 12-minute mark when Jake Layman and Nick Faust hit back-to-back 3s to give Maryland the lead for good.

Tulsa shot 12-of-26 from 3-point land and got 25 points from James Woodard.

Allen made his first appearance of the night shortly after the first TV timeout. He quickly attacked the basket, drew a foul and scored his first point of the season at the 14:05 mark from the line. His first field goal was a nice, running bank shot at the 7:20 mark, then he made Maryland's first 3 on the following possession to cut the Tulsa lead to six.

Allen went on to be the overall offensive catalyst of Maryland's comeback from a 15-point hole. He finished the first half with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting. That was a very public part of the Terps' rally that the announcers celebrated. What wasn't celebrated so loudly was Jonathan Graham's spirited interior play during the Terps' game-saving run. Graham didn't - and doesn't - shoot or score in the first half, but the big fella ran the court in a way that coaches dream about and his two rebounds and three blocked shots were at the heart of Tulsa's offensive troubles during this decisive stretch.

Mark Turgeon rewarded both Graham and Allen for their efforts by inserting them into the starting lineup for the second half.

The beginning of the game brought some surprises. The first came when Damonte Dodd took the court for his first start as a Terrapin. It must have been a nice moment for the young man, made even nicer when Jake Layman fed him for a dunk about 50 seconds in. It also, however, raises the question of Shaq Cleare's status. Charles Mitchell was the first big off the bench, then when Mitchell picked up two quick fouls, Shaq finally entered the game for the first time with 13 minutes to go in the first half. Is Shaq in the doghouse? We'll have to find out later, because I'm not a real Maryland reporter, just a hack trying to write something cogent enough from in front of my television in Florida.

The other surprise was less feel-good than Dodd's start, and it came in the form of Tulsa making its first three 3-point attempts and jumping to an 11-4 lead while Maryland forced quick shots (Peters) and couldn't find the range from beyond the arc (Layman). An active Dez Wells, with four early points, kept Maryland in the game, but Tulsa kept applying the heat and opened a 17-9 lead on D'Andre Wright's jumper at the 12-minute mark.

That's when Nick Faust (speaking of the doghouse) entered the game and threw the ball out of bounds a few seconds later. It was the first of two quick-fire turnovers as things began getting ugly with Tulsa leading by 10, 19-9, and then 12, 22-10, after Pat Swilling Jr.'s line-drive 3 forced a Terp timeout.

Another Swilling 3 came on the other side of the timeout for a 15-point deficit, 25-10, the low point of the game with 9 minutes left in the first half.

Tulsa's second-half meltdown was not as horrific as Maryland's faceplant out of the gate in the first half. But the Golden Hurricane couldn't find the basket when Maryland went on its run, couldn't defend, then suffered a stomach punch at the 10:35 mark when head coach Danny Manning was ejected for disputing a call. Turge consoled his old Kansas teammate on his way off the court.

After that, Maryland never trailed, although Tulsa made a flurry of late 3s in the closing moments to make the final score appear a little closer than what the reality of the game probably was.

In the end, it's a much-needed win even though it isn't a win that changes anything about the season. And the questions that were there before still remain for the most part. Allen helps the PG situation, but Maryland has big problems at the start of games right now and the frontcourt situation is as unsettled as ever.

Next up: North Carolina Central on Tuesday.

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