Coach Mark Turgeon knew his Maryland men's basketball team needed a break.
The Terps' game against Pittsburgh on Tuesday night marked their fourth outing in a one-week span. Maryland looked fatigued at times in the first half when the Panthers rode a 38-13 run to a 73-59 victory.
Turgeon said his squad's exhaustion wasn't an excuse, but the sixth-year coach gave the Terps Wednesday off with no film or shooting sessions in hopes of refreshing his players.
"My young guys were tired," Turgeon said. "They were mentally tired. We just need to get away from it. It's been a lot for this team already."
Maryland's week began with a 77-63 triumph over Stony Brook on Nov. 22. Then, the Terps exerted energy in consecutive close contests at the Barclays Center Classic.
First, Maryland fought back from a 12-point halftime deficit to defeat Richmond in overtime, 88-82, last Friday. The next evening, the Terps played perhaps their toughest opponent of the season: Kansas State. Guard Melo Trimble's late layup earned Maryland a 69-68 win.
Tuesday night, the Terps offense looked stagnant in the first half after Pittsburgh switched from man-to-man defense to a 3-2 zone. Forward Damonte Dodd said Maryland's inability to make shots was the biggest factor in their lapse. The Terps shot 34.4 percent and often settled for missed 3-pointers.
Turgeon said his players didn't execute against the zone the way they practiced, and failed to sprint back on defense.
"Shots we usually make down the stretch or early, we just didn't make," Dodd said.
Maryland revamped its drive with a comeback attempt, cutting the Panthers' lead to eight with less than four minutes remaining. The Terps' late rallies had ended with victories in past contests, but they didn't have enough offensive firepower at the end of their grueling stretch.
"It's a lot of energy," Trimble said. "We've been down 16, 15 a couple games. We're used to it. We just don't like being in that predicament, but to have that energy at halftime to come back the way we did is really special."
Trimble is the lone returning starter, and Turgeon hasn't had much time to help the team's newcomers settle into the offense through practice.
The Terps have three freshmen starters, who Turgeon said were drained from their first slate of college action. Still, Turgeon said he believes the tight game experience will help the rookies improve.
After facing Oklahoma State on Saturday night, Maryland's schedule slows down before Big Ten play begins Dec. 27. Turgeon said he wants to use the extra practice time to improve his frontcourt, where the Terps haven't received consistent offensive contributions. Guard Kevin Huerter said he believes the squad will also work on defending ball screens and its help defense.
Before then, though, Trimble said the Terps don't mind the nonconference grind.
"We're a bunch of competitors," Trimble said. "We like playing basketball. This is what we do. We love this game."