Terps Open Conference Play with Win over VT

Freshmen duo leads the Terps past Virginia Tech to win their 13th straight.

Freshman guard Seth Allen scored a career-high 21 points and freshman forward Jake Layman scored a career-high 20 points as the freshmen led the Maryland Terrapins to a 94-71 win over the Virginia Tech Hokies to open conference play.

“I was pleased with us today,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. “I was greatly pleased with the crowd. The crowd was great from the opening tip until the end. It makes a huge difference; that's why I came to Maryland. If we got it going the fans would be there for us. I am really proud of my team. We weren't great the whole game obviously, but we were good enough.”

The Terrapins' record of 12-1 coming into the game was their best record entering conference play since the 1998-1999 season when they were 13-1 before beginning ACC play. The Terrapins added on to their win streak with their 13th straight victory, their longest win streak since the 2001-2002 team won 13 straight en route to winning the national championship.

Allen had 21 points and four rebounds and Layman had 20 points and eight rebounds. Two other Terps scored in double figures, as sophomore center Alex Len had 16 points and nine rebounds and sophomore forward Dez Wells finished with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists.

“I think Jake was struggling because he had such high expectations,” Turgeon said. “Because he made that Under-18 US team it put even more expectations on him. I wasn't concerned because he was practicing hard every day. He went home for Christmas and regrouped--he has a great family. We believe in him, and I started coaching him differently; he doesn't need to be screamed and yelled at, he just needs to be coached. Today was a huge day for him.”

“I've been telling Jake since I got here: he's like the little brother that's bigger than the big brother,” Wells said about Layman. “He doesn't realize his potential and how good he can be, so once he really owns all his potential and gets to himself and gets going, he's going to be one of the best players to play at Maryland. He has so many talents. He has great length, he has great athleticism, and he can shoot the ball. Once his in-between game picks up, he's going to be a lot better.”

The Terps came into the matchup agains the Hokies with a 28-10 series lead and an 18-4 advantage when playing at home in College Park. They last met on Jan. 28, 2011 when Maryland pulled out a 73-69 victory at home.

Layman scored 18 points in the first half, helping the Terps jump out to a quick 53-37 lead into the half. The Terps would pull ahead by 20 points in the middle of the second half, but saw their lead cut down to 11 before Wells and Len stepped up to help the Terps pull away again. A three-pointer by Allen with over four minutes to play helped Maryland retake a 20-point. Allen would convert two free throws and then steal a ball and convert it into a bucket to help the Terps take a 24-point lead. The Terps would continue to dominate until the last second, with Turgeon yelling at his team to “finish the game” even while up by more than 20 points.

“We learned to come out and do great the first four minutes,” Allen said. “The first four minutes of a basketball game really shows who's going to come out victorious. We really hit them in the mouth early, and that's kind of what got us going.”

“Against the competition we've played against, yes I feel like that's the best we've played so far,” Wells said. “Like we've been telling each other since our last game, our record is 0-0 now--or 1-0 now--but everything we've done up to this point before the game doesn't matter. We just wanted to start fresh and tell the ACC that we're a really good team.”

The Terps and the Hokies were pretty evenly matched in the inside battle, with the Terps only out-rebounding the Hokies 41-38 and with both teams scoring 34 points inside the paint. THe biggest difference was the Terps' three-point game, with Maryland making 43.5 percent of their shots from behind the arc. Layman went 4-9 from three-point range and Allen made 3-6 from downtown.

The Terps shot 51.7 percent from the field while holding Virginia Tech to 37.3 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from downtown. Erick Green led all scorers with 28 points for Virginia Tech. Robert Brown had 11 points and Joey van Zegeren added 10 points for the Hokie while Cadarian Raines finished with eight points and 13 boards for Virginia Tech.

Nick Faust played only five minutes in the first half before sitting out the rest of the game with a back injury. Wells was also limited as he was in foul trouble throughout the game.

“We thought Nick [Faust] was going to be healthy,” Turgeon said. “In practice yesterday we thought he was going to be able to play and he couldn't. His back cramped up on him. We did that game without Nick, and Dez [Wells] was in foul trouble. That is comforting to know that we can do that.”

With the win, Maryland rises to 13-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Virginia Tech falls to 9-5 on the season and 0-1 in the ACC. The Terps will face the Florida State Seminoles on Wednesday at home in the Comcast Center in College Park, Md. Tip off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

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