#3: Maryland 58, Alabama 57
March 26, 2013
No. 3 on the list of Alex Len's best games as a Terp goes to his performance against Alabama in the NIT quarterfinals. Mark Turgeon was itching for his young squad to grab a solid road win, and Alabama represented a team who went undefeated in the SEC at home and, like the Terps, narrowly missed the Big Dance.
The Tide had a small lineup with limited post presence, but as the season often showed, that wasn't necessarily a prelude to Len having a big game. He struggled to get involved in the game prior against Denver - amassing just five points and three rebounds - and with Seth Allen out with a broken wrist Maryland would be down an offensive weapon.
Len responded with one of his most well-rounded games as a Terp, finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, and even two assists. He made his presence felt on both ends of the floor, and with Charles Mitchell, James Padgett, and Shaquille Cleare combining for just 21 minutes and six points Len provided a steadying hand in the post and anchored one of Maryland's finest defensive efforts all season.
He also played the role of late-game hero, making up for missing two free throws with 27 seconds left and the Terps clinging to a one-point lead by blocking Rodney Cooper's attempt at a game-winning layup with four ticks on the clock. Alabama went on to miss one last shot attempt at the buzzer and Maryland had booked its ticket to New York.
Even though they went on to lose in the NIT semi-finals, gritting out a one-point win on the road surely helped this team grow, and Len played a large role in that. As Mark Turgeon put it afterwards, Len "was at a high level the whole game." Taking into account how bad his ankle issues must have been at this point in the season, it's easy to consider this one of his best efforts in a Maryland uniform.