When you need an easy win, Wake Forest is there. Jordan Williams had a career with 27 points and 15 rebounds and Pe'Shon Howard had eight assists in his second ACC start as Maryland romped over the Demon Deacons, 91-70.
Really, the game was hardly even that close. Wake Forest had an early 4-3 lead, but Maryland proceeded to go on an 11-0 run. The lead after that never dipped below 5 and was as large as 24. Actually, Maryland had three 11-0 runs at various points in the game. Their third and final came in response to a small Wake Forest run that cut the lead to 10 in the second half. Maryland was the better, more experienced team, and they looked like it.
Not that you should expect anything else, but Jordan was simply dominant today against an inferior team. Both his point and rebound totals tied his career highs, plus he had three blocks. On top of all that, he shot 7-9 from the stripe: that's 76% from the stripe in his last two games and 73% in his last three. That's exactly the type of performance you want from him from the FT line, and that's really the only hole left in his game. He even showcased a little face-up jumper, which is a new thing for him. He was just on another level today. If he can up the free throw shooting, he'll be even more of a force down the stretch.
The biggest news of the day was the starting lineup change: Pe'Shon Howard was the starter at point guard over Terrell Stoglin, who had claimed the spot and started the previous four games. Howard's last appearance in the starting lineup (and the last time Stoglin wasn't) was in the Virginia Tech blowout, but this game had a very different outcome. Howard's presence was a big reason why: his shooting was middling (he made his first shot - a three-pointer - but was only 3-10 on the day) but his play at point guard might've been the best Maryland's seen all season.
Howard is usually the best passer on the team, and he definitely looked like it today. His court vision was fantastic, he was selfless, and perhaps most of all, he did a good job of keeping Jordan Williams involved. He ended up with 8 assists and only a single turnover, which is kind of shocking considering he played 32 minutes. All that was easy to do against a weak defensive team like Wake Forest, but that he did it at all was a positive development. It looks like he'll get the chance to make his mark in tougher situations in the future, and hopefully he's here to stay.
Howard's play is indicative of the way the entire team played: this is the best Maryland has looked offensively in quite some time. They were unselfish, moved the ball well, and kept Jordan Williams in the game. They even shot the ball pretty well, hitting 46% from the field and a very encouraging 47% from 3. To top it all off, they dominated the offensive boards, grabbing an incredible 43% of their misses (over the course of a season, that's top-5 good). The 91 points was Maryland's highest total since a Jan. 4 blowout of Colgate.
All of that is very easy to do given the defense they faced - Wake Forest isn't a defensive powerhouse over here (second-worst in the ACC) - but you can never complain about a good performance. Just remember that you can't take too much away from it.
As impressive as things were offensively, the game was really won defensively. Wake Forest shot the ball just fine - they had nearly the same shooting % as Maryland - but the real difference came in turnovers: Maryland forced 19 Demon Deacon turnovers. Many of those TOs led to easy buckets on the other side of the floor, which kept Maryland in an offensive rythm. Maryland almost always wins games with defense, and today was no different.
Here's the paradox of the night: Haukur Palsson. How can someone who appears to play so well and raise the level of the team's play have a +/- of -6, by far the lowest of the team? Plus-minus is a flawed stat in some ways, but it should still be taken into consideration when viewing a player's performance, which makes this a head scratcher. Palsson looked great, scoring 9 points on 4-7 shooting with a three-pointer. He even had three boards and took a charge. As far as the eye test goes, he did what a role player is supposed to do and looked good doing it. For now, I'll discount the +/-, but it's worth watching to see if it happens again.
Just for the record, both Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie looked pretty good on the perimeter, too. Bowie had 13 points and 6 assists, plus 5 boards, while Tucker had 10 points of his own, most coming in the second half. Those two, plus Jordan, were the only Terrapins in double-figures. Dino Gregory was solid again, too, and he's become a rock for this team. Sean Mosley, as you might expect, was quiet: he had 7 points in 25 minutes, but 5 of them came in the game's final few minutes.
It's worth mentioning that James Padgett and Berend Weijs hardly got off the bench, and Mychal Parker didn't at all. We can probably chalk them up to recieving minimal playing time the rest of the way unless Jordan Williams gets in foul trouble.
I'll leave you with this: Ersin Levent knocked down a three. Good on ya, Ersin.