Jordan Williams powers Maryland past Wake Forest, 91-70

Sophomore forward ties career high with 27 points, adds 15 rebounds as Terps bounce back from Duke loss

February 05, 2011|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — — It could hardly have been a more different Comcast Center scene Saturday afternoon as Maryland tried to prove there is indeed life after Duke.

Seeking to move on from a dispiriting, 18-point loss to the fifth-ranked Blue Devils Wednesday night, the Terps ditched the gold uniforms they had worn in three Atlantic Coast Conference home losses and wore white instead. They shuffled their starting lineup, inserting flashy freshman Pe'Shon Howard.

It was literally night (game) and day (game) as Maryland — playing the ACC's worst team instead of its best — rolled past Wake Forest, 91-70.

"We were more hungry than anything else," said Maryland center Jordan Williams, who tied his career high of 27 points and seemed determined to forget the Duke game and not to repeat anything like his 2-for-13 shooting performance in a win over Wake Forest on Jan. 12.

In fact, all the Terps sought to hit the "erase" button on the Duke loss — the worst in point differential since Maryland moved to Comcast Center in 2002.

"Thursday (in practice) was 'Forget Wednesday' and I'm really serious because too many people put too much on one game," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who tied the late UCLA coach John Wooden in career wins with 664.

It worked so well that Maryland might want to make "Forget Duke" a rallying cry for the eight remaining regular-season games, in which the Terps hope to build a case for an NCAA tournament bid.

"The day after the (Duke) game, campus was dead," said Jordan Williams. "Our fans feel our pain, but they are great fans. They came to the game today and supported us even after that loss."

Williams, who also had 15 rebounds, dunked hard enough on several occasions that fans could be reminded of how he had once shattered a backboard playing in high school.

After the Duke game — in which the student section was loud but ultimately frustrated — this contest was as relaxed as spring break. Fans enjoyed watching Howard — who got the start over Terrell Stoglin — show his flair for passing.

Howard had eight assists, including a few of the no-look variety. He made the game fun for the players — loosening them up — and invigorated a crowd that could have been deflated after the Duke game.

"We haven't used the crowd well this year — making them feel they are a part of it," Gary Williams said. "Pe'shon does that."

It was Howard's fourth start of the season but his first since a 17-point loss to Virginia Tech on Jan. 20.

Howard — who wears the uniform number of former Terp star Greivis Vasquez — has a game that is all about defense, penetrating and dishing the ball to open teammates.

"It might just go along with the number '21,' " Howard said. "The last guy did it pretty well. It might just be the jersey, I don't know."

The Terps led 42-30 at the half but used defense to steadily pull away. Freshman Haukur Palsson scored a career-high nine points for Maryland.

Wake Forest (8-15, 1-7) had 19 turnovers. The Demon Deacons have lost seven of eight games under first-year coach Jeff Bzdelik.

"Last time we played Maryland, 55 percent of their points came from turnovers and second-chance opportunities," Bzdelik said. "We tried very hard to address these areas when preparing for this game, but obviously we didn't do a great job of that."

On Saturday, the Terps got 21 points off turnovers and 18 on second chances. Those points accounted for 42.8 percent of Maryland's total.

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