Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon knew Tuesday's game against Boston College was going to be a close one. All of BC's games against ACC teams this season have been close and with his team struggling offensively, he asked them to achieve one simple goal; win by just one point. That's all.
"I said guys Boston College is really good, they had Miami beat and North Carolina State beat and let it slip away from them" Turgeon said following Maryland's 64-59 win over the Eagles Tuesday evening. "They could have very easily been 3-1 in our league. We have to figure out a way to win the game by one, just win this sucker by one tonight and we won by five. It was a good win."
Coming off arguably one of their ugliest losses of the season against North Carolina on Saturday, in which the Terps turned the ball over 21 times, Mark Turgeon decided to again juggle his starting lineup against BC, reinserting freshman Jake Layman and Charles Mitchell. Maryland also had sophomore Dez Wells run the point, mostly in the second half, finishing the game with eight assists, seven of which came in the second half.
"I was trying to figure it out. I wanted to play Nick [Faust], he has been playing well but he was having trouble handling it tonight" Turgeon said. "Pe'Shon [Howard] isn't the threat coming off ball screens. Seth [Allen] didn't have one of his particularly good games. We went with Dez [Wells] and he had eight assists, seven in the second half and made plays for people. The biggest play was we were down by three and he got Logan [Aronhalt] a wide open shoot in the corner that was a big shot for us. We put the ball in Dez's hands we went from down three to up eight when the ball was in his hands. That's where we are right now. The small lineup I was really happy with. Jake Layman played great. I am superstitious, that's why Jake started. He played well against Virginia Tech and we won that game so that's why he started it helped us. It was a good win. Nick made some big plays for us down the stretch, hit the big three in the corner, he had the steal, strip and the two free throws. I know he dribbled out of bounds, he is frustrated about that but he made three really big plays for us down the stretch."
Seeing Dez Wells run the point, especially for as long as he did in the second half, was a little surprising, but it appears it's something the Terps have worked on recently during practice. "I mean in practice this past week we were starting to put him at the point a lot more, so we had a feel for it" Layman said when asked about his teammate's point guard play. "But in the game he did a great job with it and he was dishing the ball well. I don't think he was focused on being the one scorer that he usually is for us. He was focusing on dishing the ball and he did a great job with it. He got us the win."
"He did a great job" sophomore Alex Len said following the game. "He had like eight assists. He was bringing the ball really hard so it helped us. He can play four positions, from point guard to position four. He can do everything, you know. It's pretty good to have him."
Senior Logan Aronhalt also thought Dez Wells' play at point guard helped Maryland's struggling offense; "Just to get another look on our offense since that's what we've been struggling with. I think he just brings aggressiveness, and he can really get to the rim and finish, and make free throws" Agonhalt said. "Having the ball in his hands, coming off the ball screen, is a really good look for us."
While the game against Boston College saw Maryland continue to struggle on offense, it appears that the Terps are starting to break out of their recent offensive slump, in which they've scored no more than 54 points in their past three games.
"Our guys believe in their defense and pretty soon we are going to be believing in our offense" Turgeon said. "We are getting better. 64 [points] tonight and shooting 42 percent feels like 80 percent compared to the way we have been shooting."
"Our offense, it's no secret that it's been struggling" Aronhalt said. "Tonight it wasn't great, but it was better. We actually made a couple shots, which was encouraging. Every game for us now is a big game. I don't think there's any bad team in the league, and we know every night, with how we're playing on offense right now, they're going to be close. They're going to be battles. Every game for us from here on out is going to be a battle, and we're going to have to play well to win."
Maryland now has to turn their focus to #1 Duke, who the Terps face on Saturday at Cameron Indoor. Maryland is going to have to show a more focused effort in that game, especially in what I'm sure will be a rowdy crowd, likely yelling about Maryland leaving the ACC. It's a game that could quickly get out of hand for Maryland, but if they Terps can execute their offense and limit turnovers, their depth could provide them with a big advantage over the Blue Devils. Hopefully, regardless of the outcome, they'll continue to improve on offense.
We'll have a full preview of the upcoming Duke game in the coming days. So for now, enjoy the win.