COLLEGE PARK — The possession, late in the first half of Friday's season opener against Wagner at Xfinity Center, should be shown by Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon anytime his team shows signs of reverting back to last season.
Four of the five players on the floor touched the ball, most notably 6-foot-9 forward Jake Layman, who started the five-pass sequence by going inside to center Damonte Dodd and who finished it with a one-handed dunk down the lane after passes from guards Richaud Pack and Dion Wiley.
In an 82-48 blowout victory, the play seemed inconsequential to the outcome. From a broader perspective, one that considers Turgeon's teams' recent history of not looking cohesive or even coherent at times, it seemed huge.
"It was just great ball movement," Layman said later. "Coach was really happy to see that. We pride ourselves on how well we move the ball. Tonight, we really showed that out there."
Said Turgeon: "In the first half, we really, really shared the ball."
It didn't appear to matter who was scoring — or who wasn't — in Maryland's 38th straight victory in a home opener.
After working more as a facilitator than as a finisher during the two Terps' preseason games, senior guard Dez Wells got the Terps off to a fast start, scared Turgeon by going down in a heap late in the first half, then quickly scored his team's first two baskets of the second half.
Wells finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting and a sore left ankle.
"He hasn't gone down like, that even in practice," Turgeon said after the game. "Sometimes you get used to guys going down. The way his ankle looked, I thought it was much worse. He has a bad ankle; he tweaks it once every three days. When I walked in at halftime, I was surprised [when the trainer said] the pain went away in a few minutes."
Said Wells: "I was fine. I'm made of steel; I'm unbreakable."
If Wells showed his toughness, then Layman showed his newfound versatility.
Known mostly as a knockdown 3-point shooter whose athleticism has come out only in flashes during his first two seasons at Maryland, the junior has been thrust into a new position at power forward — senior forward Evan Smotrycz is out with a fractured foot — and into more of a leadership role with five newcomers, four of them freshmen.
Finishing with his most impressive stat line as a Terp — 16 points, a team-high nine rebounds, and a team- and career-high six assists — Layman seemed content to hit the boards and find open teammates for most of the first half.
After his dunk late in the first half, Layman had an acrobatic tip-in, which he turned into a successful three-point play early in the second half, and an even more spectacular driving hook and subsequent free throw later in the game.
"I think when you get the other guys going, I think the game kind of comes to you a little more, and I think that's what happened tonight," said Layman, who was 5-for-7 from the field, his two misses coming on 3-point attempts.
If any of the Terps tried to force things a bit, it was highly touted freshman Melo Trimble. With Wagner's guards trying to play Trimble physically, bumping him as he moved upcourt, the 6-3 point guard seemed to play more of a one-on-one game than he did in the preseason.
Trimble finished with 13 points on 3-for-8 shooting, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the first half, but didn't have any assists. That was sometimes a problem for two of his predecessors, Seth Allen and Terrell Stoglin, though Turgeon doesn't think it will be a concern for Trimble.
"He never got in rhythm," Turgeon said. "They pressured him. They did a good job. I think the expectations are off the charts for him. If you look at that [13 points], you'd say, 'Boy, a young guy doing that his first official game, that's pretty good.' That's kind of the way I look at it."
Turgeon also could overlook his team's second-half sloppiness, which led to 10 of its 14 total turnovers. He also could see past the fact that Wagner, like the Terps' two Division II opponents in the preseason, kept getting offensive rebounds (17). Maryland had held the Seahawks to 18-for-67 shooting, or 26.9 percent.
Some other positives: Sophomore center Damonte Dodd grabbed eight rebounds, one more than he had in the two preseason games combined. Senior transfer Richaud Pack, who started in Maryland's three-guard lineup, added eight points by making three of four shots, including both from beyond the arc, and had six rebounds.
"Some people will look at the score and say, 'Wagner must not be very good,'" Turgeon said. "It's not that. I thought we played well. Guys were good, dialed in. We got better today. We were better today than we were last week. Whenever you hold a team under 50, it's a good sign."