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November 13, 2013

Terps finish Wildcats late

COLLEGE PARK, MD. - Down six with just over 14 minutes remaining, Jake Layman and the Maryland Terrapins decided they'd had enough of Abilene Christian.

The Terps, playing in their home opener, turned up the heat on defense and blew the overmatched Wildcats out of the building on Wednesday night, closing on a 29-0 run and ultimately winning 67-44 in a game that looked like it could spell trouble in the early going.

Behind a white hot Parker Wentz (13 first half points), the Wildcats initially set the pace against the sluggish Terps; gradually building leads of 11 in the first half and seven in the second. Then, in the span of about four minutes, Layman single-handedly wrecked it.

The sophomore scored eight straight points, waking up his teammates and giving them their first lead since the opening minutes. After a pair of Nick Faust free throws, Layman provided the dagger in the form of a couple of wide-open three pointers. As the second trey splashed through the net, an animated Layman peered into the crowd, urging them to erupt. The rout was on.

"The guys were finding me open," Layman said. "And I was knocking them down."

On a night when he didn't start, Layman led the Terps in scoring with 19 points, one off his career high. The lanky sophomore went 4-for-8 from long distance, adding six rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes of action.

"I think with Jake it's all confidence," said head coach Mark Turgeon. "Late in the year [last year], he was pretty good for us - had some pretty big games. This is another level. I told our guys after the Connecticut game that Jake has to get more shots."

Layman fired off 14 shots on Wednesday after attempting only seven in Brooklyn. He was unable to practice this week due to a deep thigh bruise, which in Turgeon's world means you don't start. Roddy Peters got the nod in his place, but Layman replaced the freshman two minutes in.

Layman's contributions were a welcomed sight. Dez Wells was relegated to the bench in the first half after an early turnover resulted in a disagreement with Turgeon. The star guard played only five minutes in the first half and didn't start the second.

"Dez and I had a miscommunication - something I didn't like," Turgeon said. "Dez and I have a great relationship. Not a good one, a great one. So I'm not concerned about it at all. This early in the season, you have to set the rules."

Wells responded like leaders do. He was critical in Maryland's second half surge, providing energy in transition and finding Layman for several key buckets. On the night, Wells scored four points on only three shots, adding three assists and four boards. With Layman clearly healthy, Turgeon indicated he plans to start Wells at the point on Sunday against Oregon State.

"He had the message right away," Turgeon said. "He's a good kid and regrets it. He played really well. He's the one that got Jake going."

Charles Mitchell was excellent again for the Terps. The sophomore forward was a force inside, snatching 11 rebounds to go with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting. For the second straight game, Mitchell replaced Shaquille Cleare in the second half starting lineup. Despite a shaky week of practice, Mitchell is zeroing in on a starting nod.

"If he can practice well between now and Sunday, we'll see," Turgeon said. "He doesn't care [about starting]. I know everyone else does, but he doesn't. That's why I like Charles."

Through two games, the Terrapins have outscored their opponents in the second half 79 to 44. Against Connecticut they had too much energy. Tonight they didn't have enough. Most important, perhaps, is that both nights they responded to their coach in the second half. But they're not going to have the luxury of playing Abilene Christian every night.

"We've had games like this before, so I kind of knew what to expect at halftime," Layman said. "That [Turgeon] would say we'd lack energy and the defense was terrible. So I knew in the second half we would be fine and we'd have energy. But that is something we need to work on."

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