After the Terps broke through for an 88-80 win at Boston College on Thursday night, the junior swingman was ready to let loose and have some fun.
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Graham's tip-in provided the Terps (6-4) — who host Florida Atlantic (3-7) on Saturday afternoon — a late four-point cushion. But it was Wells (career-high 33 points) who largely engineered the victory with his slashes to the hoop. The game provided further evidence that he is Maryland’s team leader — the player most capable of generating points when the Terps need them most.
“He had a little bit of a bounce in his step,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Friday. “A lot of it was in transition. He got five points against the press, just dribbling through it.”
Turgeon said Wells’ teammates recognized it was a special night for him and essentially got out of the way, creating “good spacing for him.”
Wells is often uncomfortable talking about himself.
“I think my teammates help me, my coaches help me, and the fans. It's not just me,” he said Thursday night.
But he has a sense of when his teammates need him to assume the scoring load. Against the Eagles, he seemed bigger and stronger than the defenders — so much so that Turgeon said it seemed Wells was constantly running “downhill.”
Wells, a transfer from Xavier who arrived last season, has “taken that leadership role and he's doing great with it,” sophomore forward Jake Layman said. “We all look at him as one of our leaders right now.”
With freshman Roddy Peters receiving increasing playing time, Wells is playing less point guard. That allows Wells to conserve energy and be creative off the ball.
“When Roddy and Varun [Ram] are running the point like that, it lets Dez play his natural position on the wing,” Layman said.
Turgeon said “there’s no doubt playing Roddy at the point takes some pressure off Dez. Him and Jake are playing extended minutes.”
Layman is averaging 33.2 minutes per game, the most on the team. Wells is averaging 29 minutes.
“You’ve got to be really careful with those two,” Turgeon said.
Florida Atlantic, from Conference USA, is led by former Boston University, George Washington and St. John's coach Mike Jarvis. The Owls came within three points (82-79) of upsetting Boston College last month. They are led by senior guard Pablo Bertone, who averages 20 points per game.