Dealing with the Devils

The Terps will head to Duke after receiving news that guard Pe'Shon Howard will miss the season.

As Mark Turgeon sat in front of the media for the pre-Duke press conference Friday afternoon donning his superstitious workout gear, the Maryland coach couldn't help but smile a little when reflecting on his team's first road win Tuesday at Clemson.

“What I'm lookin more at is how well we played to get up 14,” said Turgeon. “Are you kidding me? I never thought we could do that on the road and they made a run at us. But we were just so good in that stretch, offensively and defensively in our execution. You know, every time we go out I feel like we get just a little bit better.”

Saturday afternoon, Maryland will try and harness the momentum from their first road win of the season as they head south to take on No. 9 Duke in the not-so-friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium; an atmosphere, according to Turgeon, that there's no preparing for.

“They should be excited,” said Turgeon. “Playing big games in buildings like that. You know, that's why you play … I hope they're just really excited and fired up. Not nervous. It's not like their fans can come out and beat us up. All they can do is scream and yell at us.”

“Everyone's right there, screaming in your ear. The refs are tough on you. It's just a hostile environment,” said junior forward James Padgett.

Maryland is hoping for a different outcome than that of their last meeting with the Blue Devils, which came just over two weeks ago at the Comcast Center when Mason Plumlee's 23 points and 12 rebounds doomed a feisty effort by the Terps, who fell 74-61.

Despite the largely impressive performance from the Terps in that Jan. 25 game, Turgeon has a healthy list of things his team needs to do better. “Our post defense can be better,” said Turgeon. “Our one-on-one post defense can be better. Keep Alex [Len] in the game. That would help. He's tall enough to guard those brothers.”

While the Maryland post defense left much to be desired in the first matchup against Duke, the Terps perimeter defense was in top form. The Blue Devils, who are averaging 8.2 3-point field goals per game, shot an abysmal 18.8 percent (3-for-16) from beyond the arc in College Park.

“I'd rather [Mason] Plumlee score 22 than give up 15 threes, any day,” said Turgeon. “It just still wasn't enough. I thought if we guarded that way we'd win but we weren't good enough offensively to win.”

As if playing a top 10 team wasn't enough of a challenge, the Terps received word Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Pe'Shon Howard will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his right ACL in practice Thursday. The news of Howard's injury broke around 5 p.m. Friday, approximately three hours after Turgeon's press conference.

Howard's latest injury comes less than two months after battling back from a broken foot he suffered prior to the season. In 14 games this season, Howard was averaging 6.5 ppg, 3.7 apg and 3.7 rpg. During his absence in the beginning of the season, freshman Nick Faust left his natural position of shooting guard to take over at the point with Stoglin.

With Howard's gone, the scoring load will fall even heavier now on Stoglin, who is averaging 22.0 ppg (tops in the ACC) and is coming off perhaps his best shooting performance of the season Tuesday at Clemson (9-of-11 FG, 27 points).

“The two shots he did miss were bad shots,” said Turgeon. “And he made some bad ones … I can't believe how far he's come. From the first individual workout, I was like, 'There's no way I can coach this kid.' To where now I'm like, 'Man he's really buying in and doing what he's supposed to be doing.'”

The Duke game will tip Saturday at 4 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.

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