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Men's Basketball: Late change leads Terps

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland made a last-minute change to its starting lineup before Saturday's game against Virginia Tech, when the coaching staff chose Jake Layman over Nick Faust at guard because Faust was dealing with an injury.

Layman soaked in the atmosphere of a sell-out crowd that had been anxiously awaiting the Terrapins' first Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season. Then the freshman put together a performance that had most of the 17,950 at Comcast Center on their feet.

Layman poured in 20 points, a season high, and drained four 3-pointers as the Terps beat the Hokies 94-71 on Saturday.

Layman's second career start was a memorable one. He sparked Maryland's first-half energy and scored seven points in the first four minutes of the game, burying a 3 on the Terps' opening possession and scoring on a pair of putbacks. He sank a 3-pointer with 8 minutes, 36 seconds to play in the half, added two more about four minutes later, and ended the half with a pair of free throws that gave Maryland (13-1, 1-0 ACC) a 53-37 lead.

The Terps pushed their advantage to 25 points late in the second half and withstood a few runs from Virginia Tech (9-5, 0-1) to match their longest winning streak since the 2001-02 season.

Layman said he didn't find out he was starting until a few minutes before tip-off - Faust was dealing with a shoulder injury, and coach Mark Turgeon said the sophomore suffered some muscle spasms in his back during the game - but it didn't take long for him to get ready.

"It's ACC time," he said. "It was a great game for us. I was nervous at first, but once we got out there and started playing, and I saw the crowd, it was awesome."

Faust, the team's third-leading scorer at 9.8 points per game, played five minutes and missed his only shot. Maryland didn't need his services on this day, however.

Layman and freshman guard Seth Allen (21 points, a season high) provided the offense, as did sophomore center Alex Len (16) and sophomore guard Dez Wells (12).

Len and Layman combined for 17 rebounds while junior guard Pe'Shon Howard dished out six assists.

Virginia Tech senior guard Erick Green, the ACC's leading scorer at 24.4 points per game, led the Hokies with 28 points. He was Tech's only consistent shooter, though - the Hokies shot 37.3 percent from the field compared to Maryland's 51.7. Plus, the Terps connected for 10 3-pointers and shot 43.5 percent from behind the arc while making seven of their first 12 field goals and setting the early pace.

"We weren't great the whole game, but we were good enough," said Turgeon, who praised his core of freshman regulars for coming together in the victory. "They're all ready. They're big-time players."

Layman in particular.

He came into Saturday's game struggling to find his touch on offense and he had made a mere 17.1 percent of his 3-pointers this year. Turgeon said he wasn't too concerned about Layman based on his work ethic in practice, and the holiday break served as a chance to head home to Massachusetts and regroup.

Given the opportunity to start and showcase his talent, Layman didn't disappoint.

"Today was just a huge day for him," Turgeon said.

Maryland gets Florida State on Wednesday to close out its lengthy homestand, and another win would match the longest streak in school history (14 back in 1931-32).

If the Terrapins start like they did Saturday, the next few weeks could be interesting in ACC play.

"We really hit them in the mouth early, and that's kind of what got us going," Allen said. "We were waiting to play a big-boy team. We played Maryland basketball today."

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