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January 12, 2014

Red-hot Noles paste Terps

Hours before his team's departure for Tallahassee, Dez Wells stood along the baseline in an empty Comcast Center on Saturday afternoon and told a circle of reporters that Florida State's Ian Miller was one of the best players in the country.

For one half against the Terps, Miller made his fellow North Carolina native look down right clairvoyant as the Noles torched Maryland 85-61 on Sunday night at the Donald L. Tucker Center.

The senior guard scored 17 first half points off the bench, 11 of which fueled a 25-7 run that put the Noles up 20. Miller sank his first five triples as the Noles made 10 from long range in the first half -- including five straight at one point -- to blow open a game that had the look of a slugfest in the early going.

"I'm not sure why expectations [for Florida State] were low," Wells said Saturday. "Ian Miller is one of the best players in the country to me. I've been playing against him since high school. All of last year he was playing hurt. Now looking at him on film he looks like the old Ian I was playing against."

Normally torturing teams with their length and defense, the Noles (11-4, 2-1) entered Sunday night shooting just 31 percent from beyond the arc. Their previous high for makes in a game was nine, a number they had eclipsed before heading for the dressing room at the halfway point. Through 16 games, Maryland ranked 255th in the nation in three point defense, allowing opponents to connect from deep at a 35.7 percent clip.

But there seemed to be nothing Maryland, or anyone else for that matter, could do to stop Florida State. They had 58 makes on the season before Sunday and they connected on 16 of 24 against the Terps. Their 16 makes were the most by any ACC team so far this season and the most Florida State has ever made in ACC play. And unfortunately for Maryland, it didn't result in a letdown on the other end.

The Terps (10-7, 2-2) had to work for every shot, going nearly six minutes before notching their first field goal and falling behind 10-2 in the opening minutes. They missed five shots and committed five turnovers before Seth Allen found Nick Faust with an alley-oop dunk on the fast break to end their early game drought. The Terps shot 33.3 percent from the field and 3-for-17 from three, doing most of their damage at the free throw line where they were 24-of-34.

Wells was his usual aggressive self for the Terps, pounding the ball inside against the trees of Florida State. He finished with 15 points and got to the free throw line 10 times, making nine. Faust had a promising stretch in the first half, scoring seven points to bring the Terps back from their slow start before the Noles blew it open. The suddenly efficient junior had 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

Seth Allen crashed back to Earth in his fifth game, missing all eight shots he took from the field and finishing with just one point. Maryland turned the ball over 15 times, but managed to outrebound Florida State and collect 10 steals.

The Terps trailed 42-22 at halftime against a Seminoles team that ranks among the top five in the nation in defensive efficiency. Stacked with three seven-footers, Florida State had seven blocks on the night. Five Florida State players had at least 12 points, including Miller who finished with 20.

The loss drops Mark Turgeon to 0-6 against Florida State for his career and 0-4 in his time at Maryland. The Terps host Notre Dame at the Comcast Center on Wednesday night.

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