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Terps rout Central Connecticut State, 93-57

COLLEGE PARK — Maryland beat a team called the Blue Devils pretty soundly Monday night at Xfinity Center. Dez Wells couldn't have been happier — or better.

No, Mike Krzyzewski and the Atlantic Coast Conference didn't suddenly have a change of heart and schedule the Terps here a year after the computer told them it was not going to happen.

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On the same day Wells made the early season Wooden Award watch list, the 6-foot-5 senior guard scored a game-high 27 points in a 93-57 victory over Central Connecticut State.

Wells also showed off his new-found shooting stroke that he honed this summer with the help of former teammate turned graduate assistant John Auslander by hitting 10 of 15 shots, including all three of his 3-pointers.

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Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Wells "absolutely pays attention" to his inclusion on the list among the nation's top players. "And he should be on there," Turgeon said emphatically.

Said Wells: "That's a great honor, I'm happy to be up there, but it doesn't mean anything if my team doesn't win."

Wells said he pays closer attention to what his critics say and, perhaps, the lists he doesn't make, including barely getting any attention for the preseason Big Ten first team after being third-team all-ACC last season.

"I more so look at criticism, I use that more as motivation more so than the Wooden Watch," Wells said. "I didn't have a lot of people supporting me, believing in me growing up."

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Playing with high-top sneakers to give more stability to the left ankle he rolled in Friday's season opener against Wagner, Wells helped the Terps distance themselves late in the first half and early in the second half.

"I don't think he was particularly good in the first half," Turgeon said of Wells, who committed all three of his turnovers before halftime. "I just talked to him about slowing down. He can actually change gears now. I just thought he made all the right decisions in the second half. He was terrific."

Wells and senior guard Richaud Pack also slowed down Central Connecticut State sophomore guard Matt Mobley, who had helped his Blue Devils cut an early 24-8 deficit to 28-22 late in the first half with 14 of his team-high 24 points by halftime.

"I thought defensively he was a little bit better, and we challenged him to guard Mobley some," Turgeon said of Wells, who is hoping to become a better defender this season.

As a team, the Terps also clamped down. Though Mobley finished 10 of 18 from the field, the rest of his Central Connecticut State teammates were a collective 13 of 47. Conversely, Maryland finished 35 of 63 from the field, 10 of 23 on 3-point shots.

Junior forward Jake Layman continued his hot shooting, making five of seven from the field and his last two 3-pointers, after missing his first four over two games, to finish with 14 points.

Freshmen guards Melo Trimble and Dion Wiley each had 10 points, with Trimble pulling down nine rebounds and Wiley getting five. Sophomore center Damonte Dodd had seven points, five rebounds and four blocked shots.

"Melo did not really play well — my expectations for him are pretty high," Turgeon said of Trimble, who also had four assists and two turnovers in a team-high 27 minutes. "His decision-making wasn't what it needed to be, and he's a better decision-maker than that. … He was still good."

Wells had one of his best offensive games since coming to Maryland. It was the most 3-point shots he made since joining the Terps, one shy of his career-high set as a freshman at Xavier.

Asked if Monday's performance was a snapshot of what fans might expect to see from him, and what opposing defenses will try to shut down, Wells said: "I think I've grown a lot as a player, but I haven't grown enough because I only had two rebounds tonight. I'm going to hear that from my mom and from the whole coaching staff."

Another thing Wells must pay closer attention to is the nickname of opposing teams. Wells had no idea that Central Connecticut State had the same nickname of the team he grew up rooting for, as well as one he helped beat a couple times as a sophomore.

"For real?' he asked after the game, when told that he had just played the Blue Devils.

Wells smiled.

"I want to play Duke so bad," he said.

Monday night was not quite the same, even if Wells was even better.

NOTES: It marked the first time Maryland scored 90 or more points since a 94-71 victory over Virginia Tech in January 2013. It was also the first time that the Terps had back-to-back wins by 30 or more points since the 2006-2007 season. Their two wins by 30 or more points to start the season matches the total of those type of wins in Turgeon's first three seasons at Maryland. … Monday's game was part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic for Maryland, which plays in the tournament next week in Kansas City against Arizona State on Monday and either Iowa State or Alabama on Tuesday, depending on the outcome of the games. The Terps will take on Fordham on Thursday night at home.

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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