Highlights from the Maryland men's basketball team's 64-58 victory over Penn State. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
There have been a few games since Dez Wells returned from a fractured right wrist in late December after which Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon said the senior guard seemed like his old self.
Or, as Turgeon put it: "Dez was being Dez."
For most of Wednesday's game against Penn State at Xfinity Center, as Wells carried the No. 17 Terps into a halftime lead and eventually a 64-58 victory, even Dez thought he was being Dez.
"I'm getting close to 100 percent. It feels amazing; it's so refreshing," Wells said after scoring 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting (2-for-2 on 3-pointers), pulling down seven rebounds and making one of his signature dunks in the second half.
It was the highest point total for Wells since he scored 27 against Central Connecticut on 10-for-15 shooting (3-for-3 on 3-pointers) in the season's second game. Three games later, Wells fractured his wrist after being fouled in the opening minute of Maryland's upset of Iowa State.
After denying over the past six weeks that his wrist was negatively affecting his game, or that he was having some difficulty returning to a lineup in which Melo Trimble had taken over as the team's leading scorer, Wells acknowledged that both had factored into his inconsistency.
Asked what the biggest difference was in having Trimble be more of a facilitator (eight assists) than a scorer (four points on 0-for-5 shooting), Wells said: "I think the biggest difference is me having to adjust to not being at a hundred percent.
"[Trimble] hasn't had to adjust. He just goes out there and plays his game. For a little bit, I had to adjust my game and find ways to affect the game and help my teammates out without being able score, because I wasn't at full strength."
Since returning Dec. 27 against Oakland, Wells averaged 11.9 points over his previous 10 games and shot 38-for-103 from the field, including 8-for-19 beyond the arc. His free-throw shooting — nearly automatic at the end of last season, when he made 46 of his last 51 — also suffered, going 37-for-49.
"It's only a matter of time," Wells said. "You've got to be patient. You've got to trust the process. You've got to keep working and working, and that's what I've done. I look forward to having better games as well."
Turgeon can do without Wells' turnovers — he had five against Penn State, three in the first half — but he hopes his leading scorer from the past two seasons is ready to take his place among the Big Ten Conference's top players.
"I thought he was too amped up at first, a little out of kilter for him," Turgeon said. "I thought the second half, he was really good. Dez was good."
And, for the first time since fracturing his wrist, he was also Dez.