Maryland-Georgia Tech pregame notes: Dez Wells, road warrior

February 27, 2013

Dez Wells is unfazed by hostile crowds. (Getty Images)

Maryland swingman Dez Wells boasts some pretty remarkable home-road splits this season, scoring more than six points more per game away from College Park. In 18 home games at Comcast Center, Wells averages 9.3 points per game and shoots 50 percent from the field (24.1 percent on three-pointers). In seven true road games, his numbers spike to 15.9 points per game, 57.3 percent from the field and 42.9 percent on three-ponters. Coach Mark Turgeon has a simple explanation for the discrepancy.

“He’s our toughest guy,” Turgeon said Tuesday. “Physically and mentally, he’s our toughest guy. He’s been there, done that. He’s played in some tough environments last year, they had to win games. So he’s been good. When Shaq [Cleare] gets the time, Shaq plays hard. He doesn’t worry about it. He fouls more on the road than he does at home. Dez is our toughest guy. I don’t think there’s any question. Logan [Aronhalt] played well on the road, but it’s his fifth year. He’s been doing it a while.”

Still, Wells’s scoring numbers have ticked down slightly, culminating in a season-low four points against Clemson on Saturday, when he shot 1 of 6 from the field but tallied seven assists against one turnover. Turgeon said Wells, the only active Maryland player with NCAA tournament experience, got a little down on himself during the Clemson game after opening cold from the field.

“I think Dez feeds off…he got shots up early against Clemson, he just didn’t make them,” Turgeon said. “So he’s like, ‘I’m not going to shoot them any more.’ … Even throughout the game, it was like, ‘Okay Dez, you’re doing a lot of other things well, don’t worry about your shot.’ He just totally turned that part off, unless he could get to the rim, and he became a facilitator. I think Dez is a really smart kid and has a great feel for his own game. A lot of kids don’t. In games he’s making shots, he shoots a little more. Games he’s not, he defends and rebounds and facilitates better. I like those kinds of players. Those are a lot easier to coach.”

>> After Saturday’s win over Clemson, Charles Mitchell expressed his enthusiasm over playing alongside Cleare, but admitted that at times he was too locked into the action to notice which low-post teammate was in the game.

Needless to say, this confused Cleare a tad.

“That might be a bad thing,” the center said with a smile. “I don’t know. When me and him are in the game together, we try to lock our guys up. Don’t let your guys score. Call each other by name. Better not let your guys score. That’s the approach we take to the game.

“That’s why in the past couple games I’ve gotten in foul trouble early, because I take it personally when people score on me. I get frustrated. But I’ve learned better post defense, how to move my feet better, to keep me in the games longer. Because Turgeon, he does want to play me. I just have to be smart.”

>> Expect Cleare to remain in the starting lineup against Georgia Tech, along with  Wells, Nick Faust, Jake Layman and Alex Len. Turgeon intimated that he preferred this particular group, which has started games against Clemson and at Duke.

He also didn’t rule out playing Cleare and Mitchell together some more.

“I think we will,” Turgeon said. “It all depends on how our guys are playing. I do feel very comfortable with any of our freshmen on the floor. All four at the same time, I’m not sitting there worried about it. They do feed off each other.”

MORE ON MARYLAND-GEORGIA TECH

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– Poll Time! Who ya got, Maryland or Georgia Tech?

Terps feeling a sense of urgency.

– Video: One-on-one with Charles Mitchell.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt | February 27, 2013