For a Maryland team that has been treated none too kindly by the rigors of ACC play, it turned out a Comcast Center bout against a reliable conference punching bag was just what the Terrapins needed to get back on track. Even if, as coach Mark Turgeon put it, “We put a lot more effort into us than we did Wake Forest.”
That scouting strategy worked out Saturday as the 86-60 win provided the Terps (16-6, 4-5 ACC) with a boost following a last-gasp setback at Florida State that gave Maryland three losses in four games.
“That was fun. We needed it and we needed a win,” said Turgeon, who recalled players crying after the 73-71 loss to the Seminoles on Wednesday. “We talked about playing with energy and playing hard and having fun.”
In rolling to the win over the Demon Deacons, Maryland notched its fourth-straight triumph against Wake Forest and ninth victory in 11 meetings.
Maryland spread the wealth, with six players — Logan Aronhalt, Alex Len, Jake Layman, James Padgett, Seth Allen and Dez Wells — scoring in double figures. Aronhalt led the way with 13 points, while Padgett poured in 12 on 6-for-6 shooting in his second start of ACC play.
As Maryland dominated inside, with big men Len, Padgett, Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare going a combined 16 of 19, the presence in the paint opened the floor for the Terps, who pounced on the open looks to put together an 11-for-16 day from beyond the arc.
“Just watching from the sidelines early in the game, I could see wide-open 3s,” Aronhalt said. “I was really almost drooling waiting to get in because I knew I was going to get open shots. The [forwards] did a great job of dishing out when they got double-teamed. We were just wide open.”
Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik strayed from his customary three-forward setup for the second straight game, starting three guards in a move that gave the Demon Deacons (10-11, 3-6) increased speed and mobility against the nation’s top rebounding team.
But Len (12 points, nine rebounds) surpassed a four-point effort against Florida State in the opening five minutes when he sandwiched a midrange jumper between two dunks.
“At Florida State, I was a little bit let down by myself,” Len said. “But like the coaches always say, ‘It’s the next play; you’ve got to get back up.’ That’s what I did today — I just came out and played as hard as I could.”
Although Wake Forest top scorer Travis McKie found his 15 points, Maryland held the visitors to a dismal 34 percent shooting from the field.
The Terps seized control with a 16-2 run, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Layman that put Maryland in front 26-11 with 9:10 remaining in the half.
With the clock running down, the Terps ran a play out of a timeout to perfection, setting up Aronhalt to connect from 3 and send Maryland into the locker room with a 42-25 lead.
And the Terps didn’t ease off the gas to start the second half, forcing Bzdelik into an early timeout as they reeled off three consecutive baskets that extended the lead to 24.
At the 13:02 mark, Mitchell found Cleare for an uncontested slam to make it 61-32. The Terps coasted from that point on, never letting the Demon Deacons get closer than 21 as they improved to 14-1 at home.
“They’re starting to figure it out,” Turgeon said. “You can see it coming.”
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