Maryland held a solid lead throughout much of the first half Thursday, but a strong Boston College run made the Terrapin win look very much in doubt. Dez Wells nearly single-handedly lifted the Terrapins to victory, scoring 22 of the Terps' 46 second half points en route to a 88-80 victory. Jonathan Graham also continued to solidify his status as a fan-favorite with a huge offensive rebound and tip-in to give the Terps a six-point lead with about 80 seconds to play, which just about sealed it.
Three things we learned from the win
Dez Wells will Dez Wells when he feels like it, Roddy Peters is the starting point guard, and is there a new member of the Terrapin rotation?
Wells ended up scoring 33 points on the day -- a new career-high for the junior guard. Second on the team was Roddy Peters, who started the game at point guard and scored 14.
Evan Smotrycz got beat twice early by Ryan Anderson, but Jonathan Graham came in for Shaquille Cleare to provide some interior support after the starting center's second foul. That's right, it was Graham who came in first, not Charles Mitchell -- Mark Turgeon wants to avoid the Mitchell-Smotrycz defensive pairing, and luckily Graham's surprisingly strong play has allowed him the flexibility to do so. That ended up changing in the second half, as Mitchell and Smotrycz started the period.
Maryland led 42-36 at halftime, led by 11 Dez Wells points and a strong early offensive showing that saw assists on five of their first nine field goals. The Terrapins did not have an assist during the remainder of the half, and Boston College was able to make a run as a result.
The Terrapins fell behind 62-58 in the second half thanks to an abundance of turnovers, the Eagles' ability to get to the line and poor defensive play, but fought back to make it 65-64 with six-and-a-half-minutes to play. With five minutes to go, Wells drove to the lane, drew the foul and made the bucket, making it 70-68 after the free throw -- his 23rd point of the day. After the Eagles tied it up, Layman and Wells drove to the hoop on back-to-back possessions to make it 74-70 at the under-four.
Maryland rebounded much better in the second half than they did in the first, which was much of the reason they were able to survive the offensive surge by the Eagles. Maryland knew the BC offense would be an issue,but rebounding was supposed to be a strength for the Terps in this one -- that wasn't the case in the first half, so it was a welcome change after the break.
After some promising ball movement in the first half, Maryland struggled to keep that up in the second half. The Terrapins finished the day with assists on less than 20% of their shots (the Eagles, meanwhile were near 70), which has not been a formula for success this season.
Luckily for the Terps, Wells played a simply phenomenal game. Boston College's guards proved unable to stop him from penetrating inside, while the big men failed to play help defense and the junior guard simply feasted on layup opportunities. After a strong first half performance, Wells picked up his game in the second, essentially leading the Terps to victory by himself. He made 12 of 18 shots, with eight of 11 free throw attempts and five rebounds.
There were obvious concerns with the game -- especially from the end of the first half through the middle of the second half -- but an ACC road win is an ACC road win. There are no "moral" victories in this one, just an actual win that the Terps can put in the books, which puts them in a tie at top of the conference standings with Virginia Tech. Enjoy that while you can.