COLLEGE PARK – Maryland entered Saturday's Wake Forest game eager — desperate, even — to push past the tears, frustration and jarring plane ride after its most-wrenching loss of the season at Florida State three days earlier.
The Terps got precisely what they needed in front of an amped up, Comcast Center crowd — an inspired, feel-good performance that allowed them to forget the loss to the Seminoles and regain some swagger.
The 86-60 win over the Demon Deacons was the sort of game that compels Maryland fans to imagine the future possibilities for a young team that has had consistency issues.
“That was fun,” said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, a perfectionist who doesn't often seem to be having fun on the bench. “We needed that, and we needed a win. We had guys crying after the last game, and that shows you they care.”
If Maryland's players need a lift during the remainder of the season, they can always look back to Saturday's contest and revel in their 67.3 percent shooting and 21 assists.
The game seemed to answer the question, “What would happen if nearly all the Terps played as well they can on the same day?”
Logan Aronhalt (13 points) led six Terps who scored in double figures.
The Terps (16-6, 4-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost on Wednesday night on a final-second shot by Florida State's Michael Snaer. Their plane from Tallahassee, Fla., flew into high winds, and players said the ride was bumpy.
The team, which has won just one road game, showed Saturday how happy it was to be back on campus.
“It's Comcast. It's home,” Aronhalt said. “A girl in the stands (on Saturday) had a sign that said, ‘We love Logan.' Things can't get much better than this.”
Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said the Terps “fed off the energy of their home crowd.”
Maryland replaced the memory of Snaer's shot with happier images. There was freshman Jake Layman (12 points, including four 3-pointers) chest-bumping Charles Mitchell after converting his second 3 in a row to stake the Terps to an early 15-point lead.
There was center Alex Len's vicious, put-back dunk to extend Maryland's lead to 49-25 with 18:33 left.
The Demon Deacons (10-11, 3-6), who were dominated in the paint and repeatedly beat down the court, never threatened in the second half. Travis McKie led Wake Forest with 15 points.
About all that went wrong for Maryland was Dez Wells missing a breakaway dunk and tumbling to the floor with 4:41 left. The Terps were up 79-49 by then and could laugh about the miscue.
Maryland began pulling its regular players from the game with 2:02 left.
Len in particular was coming off a trying game (four points) against the Seminoles.
Len appeared to take an elbow from Wake Forest's Devin Thomas — brother of Maryland women's basketball star Alyssa Thomas — near the basket early in Saturday's game.
“There was an elbow thrown early and that got Alex going,” Turgeon said.
After that, Len was a defensive force. And he didn't miss a field-goal attempt in the first half (4-for4) and finished the game with 12 points and nine rebounds.
“It just got me going,” Len said of the elbow. “I mean, every game I play I get the same thing — players try to do stuff like elbows, trash talk. I try not to listen but just play hard.”
The Terps scored 14 of their first 20 points in the paint.
Maryland used its 11th starting lineup of the season, starting senior forward James Padgett for the first time in three weeks. Padgett was 6-for-6 from the field for 12 points.
It all seemed to work for the Terps on Saturday.