- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fresh off a fourth loss in five games, Mark Turgeon didn’t dwell on what his Maryland Terrapins did wrong.

Sure, there were missed assignments. Ill-advised jump shots too, and more than a few too many fouls. Yet after an 83-79 loss to No. 20 Pittsburgh at Comcast Center on Saturday, Turgeon instead turned the focus to the team in the visitors’ locker room.

“I’ve been doing this a long time — I’ve been a head coach and assistant coach for about 26 years — and I’m telling you that’s one of the best teams I’ve ever coached against,” Turgeon said. “How they’re ranked 20th at 18-2 is an absolute joke. They’re a top five team in the country.”

In defeating Maryland (11-9, 3-4 ACC) for the second time this month, the Panthers outrebounded the Terps 39-26 and held Maryland to a 4-for-17 night from 3-point range.

But most crucially, Pittsburgh attacked the rim and earned 47 trips to the foul line. Leading the way was senior guard Lamar Patterson, who racked up 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while going 12 of 14 from the line.

“They’re a really good team,” junior guard Dez Wells said. “I think they’ll go deep in the tournament this year, like they usually do. … When they play together, they’re patient. That’s one of the greatest things about them.”

Although Wells led the Terrapins with 19 points and forward Jake Layman notched 18 for his best output since mid-December, Maryland was dealt its first home loss of conference play.

The Terps started well enough, going 4 of 4 from the field as they jumped to a 9-2 lead. Coming off a five-point effort against NC State on Monday, Layman matched that total before the game was three minutes old by swishing a pair of jumpers.

But as Pittsburgh began to draw fouls, the lead dwindled. Maryland’s shots stopped falling as well. With the Terps mired in a 1-for-7 stretch, Patterson knocked down a jumper to cap an eight-point spurt and put the Panthers up 20-16.

“We didn’t make any jump shots,” Turgeon said. “We hit our first two or three — didn’t make any after that.”

It was thanks to a 16-for-17 clip from the free-throw line that Pittsburgh entered halftime with a 42-37 advantage, despite compiling just eight points outside the paint.

Pittsburgh maintained the momentum after the break, building a 13-point lead as Maryland added to Turgeon’s ire with a slew of turnovers and poor shots. And the foul trouble lingered, with forward Charles Mitchell picking up his fifth personal with 7:09 remaining.

“Today wasn’t going to be a 3-point shooting game,” Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. “I didn’t want to get into that. I wanted to get into the lane, get fouled and attack the basket well. That’s what we wanted to do.”

While Patterson did his best to keep Maryland out of reach, the Terps made it a two-possession game inside the final two minutes, with a steal and score from Wells sparking the late surge.

But Allen misfired on a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left and Maryland down five. On the next possession, Evan Smotrycz missed a trey of his own to end the Terps’ comeback hopes.

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