Maryland needed this. It needed the blowout. It needed the offense to emerge from the doldrums and regain its stroke. It needed to return home, into the friendly confines of Comcast Center, to finally hear cheers when they made a basket.
The Terrapins talked Friday about washing the chalkboard after Wednesday’s brutal loss at Florida State. New month, new mind-set, they said. Wake Forest provided the perfect entry into February, a doormat on which they could stomp and shake the dirt off their shoes.
Maryland was never challenged in an 86-60 win Saturday afternoon. The Demon Deacons put up little fight, but it wouldn’t have mattered. The Terps emerged relaxed and on fire, scoring at will throughout, finally seeming at ease after enduring a torturous lead-up, nightmares of Michael Snaer’s dagger still swirling.
“We needed it. We needed a win,” Coach Mark Turgeon said. “I’m proud of our guys. We talked about playing with energy, playing hard and having fun. We put a lot more effort into us than we did Wake Forest today, and it really helped.”
The four post players feasted, finishing a combined 16 for 19 from the field. Six Terps scored in double figures, the most since 2011, though none had more than 13. They shot 67.3 percent from the field and 68.8 percent from beyond the arc, both season highs. Alex Len (12 points, nine rebounds) and Seth Allen (12 points, three three-pointers) regained their mojo. James Padgett continued his recent curious resurgence (6 for 6 from the field). After going up 30-19, the lead never again approached single digits.
“Our offense was a lot better,” Aronhalt said. “It was great in the Florida State game. The difference tonight was we shot 67 percent from the field, 11 for 16 from three? Any time you shoot that well, you’re going to be tough to beat. I don’t care who you’re playing.”
The entire afternoon evoked memories of the 94 points Maryland dropped on Virginia Tech in its ACC opener nearly one month ago, but somehow this felt even easier.
“I think we were much better tonight than we were in the Tech game,” Turgeon said. “We were so much further along. In the Tech game we hit shots, got it rolling. I think we were really dominating here. We were doing it with execution, our defense…that was a good offensive team. Our defense was just tremendous. I think we were that much better today than we were against Tech. The score wasn’t as dominant, but things you know that are important.
“Last two games, they’re starting to figure it out. Now whether we’ll get a road win next Thursday, I don’t know. But you can see it coming. You can see us coming. It’s good to see.”
Now the challenge becomes consistency. Spreading success across multiple games has proved difficult for these young Terps, but they appear to be figuring out the system. When Wake Forest began doubling the post after intermission, Len responded with consecutive assists. Charles Mitchell, who finished with five points and seven rebounds, simply passed over sagging defenders.
The players didn’t exactly play angry, though Len took an early elbow from Wake Forest freshman Devin Thomas that seemed to spark his effort. Rather, they seemed relaxed and focused, atypical of a young team desperate for a win.
“We’re still mad about Florida State,” Layman said. “But we know this is the way we can play. We just have to keep doing this.
“Florida State, we weren’t in good moods at all. It was a heart-breaker for us, we thought we had that game. Tonight, we knew we had to come out and really crush them.”