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Maryland shares the ball, avoids big injury in blowout win

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 shoots too quickly.

Four of the five players on the floor touched the ball, including forward Jake Layman, who started the sequence by going inside to center Damonte Dodd and finished it with a one-handed dunk down the lane.

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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 didn't appear to matter who was scoring — or who wasn't.

After being more facilitator than finisher during the two Terps' preseason games, senior guard Dez Wells got the Terps off to a fast start, gave Turgeon and everyone else in the building a big scare by going down in a heap late in the first half, then scored the 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 in what was Maryland's 38th straight victory in a home opener. Layman finished with 16 points, 11 in the second half, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds and a team- and career-high six assists.

Early on, Layman seemed content to hit the boards and find open teammates. After his dunk late in the first half, the 6-foot-9 junior 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 free throw later in the game.

Aside from the gasp he and much of the announced 10,015 let out when Wells clutched at his ankle after a drive down the lane — something the 6-5 senior had done easily earlier for a throwdown dunk as well as a pair of one-handed floaters —Turgeon had to be pleased with his team's performance.

Not only did the Terps look sharp with their new motion offense, they also continued to play the kind of defense rarely seen last season.

Helped by the presence of athletic interior defenders Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky, and overall defensive improvement from Wells and Layman, Wagner looked just as woeful as Maryland's two Division II opponents in the preseason. The Seahawks shot 7-for-29 in the first half and 18-for-67 for the game.

The Terps also cleaned up two problems that surfaced in the preseason: a bad habit of committing turnovers and an inability to control the defensive boards against smaller opponents. Maryland had 14 turnovers, though a handful came long after the game was decided and Turgeon had cleared his bench.

After giving up a couple of second-chance shots early, Dodd used his 6-10 frame and long arms to take over the boards. He finished with eight rebounds, one more than he had in the first two preseason games combined, and newcomer Richaud Pack, a terrific rebounder at 6-3 and 185 pounds, added six.

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