The Terps have been struggling on offense for the majority of the year. That wasn't the case against Wake Forest. In the first half, the Terps had one of the most impressive halves of their season, scoring 42 points while shooting 73.9 percent from the field. They finished shooting a season-best 67.3 percent from the field and 68.8 percent (11-16) from beyond the arc.
It was a game that showed a glimpse of Maryland's potential on offense, which could give a young Terps team some much-needed confidence.
Alex Len played one of his best games of the season after scoring a season-low four points against Florida State. The Terps fed the ball inside early and often to Len, who scored 12 points while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out a season-high three assists.
“I was focused from the start to come out and play as hard as I can - just help my teammates on the defensive end and not worry about offense,” said Len.
“There was an elbow thrown early, that got Alex going. There was some jawing going on that got him going,” said coach Mark Turgeon after the game. “We just talk about Alex protecting the rim; Just be a presence. He was a big-time presence today. I think he only had two blocks, but he affected a lot of other plays.”
Coach Turgeon started senior James Padgett for the first time since January 13th (against Miami). It was Turgeon's 11th different starting lineup this season. Padgett responded by scoring 12 points in a team-high 26 minutes.
“James was just tremendous: his defense, his team defense,” said Turgeon. “He's a smart player. It takes a lot of pressure off Alex and takes a lot of pressure of Shaq and Charles when he plays that way. So it was a welcome sight.”
“He was huge. He came in with so much confidence and it showed,” said freshman Jake Layman. He had a great game. I think his mindset in other games just wasn't really there. In this game he just really dialed in. I think he'll be playing like that for the rest of the season.”
The Terps dominated from the beginning offensively and defensively. They held Wake Forest to just 34.4 percent from the field and outrebounded the Demon Deacons 37 to 13. But the Terps didn't play a perfect game. They still struggled in one aspect that has bothered them all season.
“The one thing we didn't do well was take care of the ball,” said Turgeon. “It's mind boggling, it's frustrating. Our turnovers are all correctable. They're just all so silly. As a coaching staff we said when we turned the ball over we were going to stand up and cheer and yell next play - move on and try to get a stop. But if you take away turnovers it could have been really fun today.”
The Terps had six players finish in double figures. Layman connected on four of his six three-point attempts, scoring 12 points. Dez Wells scored 11 points while grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists. Seth Allen came off the bench and scored 12 points and pulled in a season-high seven rebounds.
With the win, the Terps improve to 16-6 on the season and 4-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Wake Forest falls to 10-11 and 3-6 in the ACC. The Terps will travel to Blacksburg, VA, Thursday to play Virginia Tech for the second time this season. In their first matchup, the Terps defeated the Hokies 94-71. Tip off is scheduled for 9 p.m.