Maryland cruises past Wake Forest

Maryland cruises past Wake Forest
February 5, 2011, 8:09 pm
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Saturday, February 5, 2011 3:06 pm

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February 5, 2011

By Chris Knoche
CSNWashington.com Contributor

There were a handful of certainties evident after the Maryland Terrapins cruised to a 91-70 conference win over visiting Wake Forest in front of a capacity crowd of 17,950 at Comcast Center this afternoon.

The first is that sophomore center Jordan Williams is destined to re-write the Terrapin record book as he piles up monopoly style numbers in games against virtually all comers. This afternoon he tallied 27 points and 15 rebounds in a game where the Terp game plan was to get him the ball early and often. For the game he was 10-19 from the field and 7-9 from the free throw line (making him 1925 in the last two games). He tormented Wakes front line in each half. When he wasnt beating them up inside, he was simply beating them up the floor in transition and he was continually found by teammates in the second half to easily finish plays around the basket.

The second is that freshman point guard PeShon Howard seems to have found a groove over that past few weeks that has both impressed his coach and excited the fan base. He had been told he would start the Wake game just hours after the team had suffered a disappointing loss at home to Duke on Wednesday night. His response was an immaculate 8 assist, 1 turnover night where he had a handful of passes worthy of the 11:00 news (10 PM for Dave Feldman fans).

A third would be that it is completely high time to put head coach Gary Williams name on the court, the baskets, and the nacho stands and pretty much wherever the hell he wants to put it. The win was number 664 in his career, matching the win total of the legendary John Wooden. While there is no doubt a gap in the number of national titles between the two, what Williams has been able to accomplish in his career is nearly as remarkable. He toils in a dramatically different NCAA landscape with parity that Wooden never had to deal with. Regardless of how you cut it, 664 wins puts him in rarified air.

The last applies to both the team and its coaches. Conventional wisdom says the Terps lack a signature win and will have to sweep the rest of the regular season to earn an NCAA tournament bid. Making predictions like that the first week of February can make folks look foolish in the first week of March. As Gary Williams continues to squeeze all that he can out of Jordan Williams and his teammates, the Terps improved to 5-4 in league play tied with Boston College and Virginia Tech, both of whom they play in the next ten days- and the future offers some intriguing possibilities. Perhaps the truth is that college basketball is down across the board, not just in the ACC, and that, as a result, there are more teams on the bubble than ever before. A good February may very well make the difference for any one of a number of clubs.

In a game where the home team had produced some significant offensive flurries, the first came as the game was barely 3 minutes old. Down 4-3, Williams scored six points in an 11-0 spurt to seize a 14-4 lead and the Terps were never headed.

Wake eventually closed to 24-19 with 8 minutes remaining in the half before the Terps went on an identical 11-0 run to open up a 35-19 lead with 4:52 remaining. Eventually Maryland would take a 42-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The second half unfolded in completely unremarkable fashion. Wake was able to stay within hailing distance in the first ten minutes and then the bottom dropped out for them.

Gary Williams called a timeout midway through the first half when Wake closed to 60-50. Whatever he said during those brief 30 seconds should be bottled and sold at coaching stores nationwide. The decisive run began in an unconventional way for the Terps four consecutive free throws made, two by Williams, and two by Adrian Bowie. Then the Maryland transition game got into full gear. First, Williams took a feed from Howard for a dunk then guard Cliff Tucker got free on the break for a wide open three in transition and the lead was 69-50.Timeout Wake. On Wakes next possession Williams rebounded on the defensive end and then finished with another slam on the offensive end. Bowie drove the basket for a layup and then assisted Howard for another layup. Finally Williams scored another layup and it was 77-50 with 5:27 remaining.

Game. Set. Match. Final 91-70.

Among the positives was the play of freshman forward Hauk Paulsson. He not only scored a career high 9 points to go along with 3 rebounds but he provided sturdy defense at both forward positions and added to the team IQ every minute he was on the floor.

Up next for the Terps is a non-conference win, er game, against Longwood on Wednesday followed by directional away games against Boston College and Virginia Tech.

While March Madness gets all the hype in college basketball, its usually the February conference games that will dictate just how many meaningful March games a team will get to play.