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Terps hope Wiley's strong second half is a sign of things to come

There have been just a few moments this season when Maryland guard Dion Wiley resembled the player he was, at times, as a freshman and before he tore his meniscus prior to the start of his sophomore year.

And then there was the second half of Monday's 92-66 victory over Jacksonville State. The 6-4 redshirt sophomore looked like the player Maryland coach Mark Turgeon hopes he can become for the Terps later this season, particularly when Big Ten play begins later this month.

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After taking just one shot – a 3-pointer that he made – and committing two turnovers in seven first-half minutes at Xfinity Center, Wiley scored  10 of his 13 points in the second half. He made three of four shots – including a pair of 3-pointers – along with two free throws.

Interestingly, Turgeon said he believed it was an assist in the second half, one of two for the game, that helped Wiley the most. It came midway through the second half when Wiley found junior center Michal Cekovsky for a dunk with 9:31 to play. A half-minute later, Wiley hit a 3-pointer.

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"What got him going was the pass to Ceko, he came off a ball screen and threw it on a rope to Ceko," Turgeon said after the game. "That kind of got him going because it was a positive play, then he hit two 3s in a row after that. He just needed some positive things to happen for him."

One of the more impressive moves of the night came when Wiley drove left and scored on a tough, twisting drive. He also drove again and was fouled, making both free throws. His 13-point performance tied his season high against Division III St. Mary's, but considering the versatility he showed it was more impressive.

"My coaches and the staff always tell me get a layup first, or get yourself going for a layup, seeing me make a layup gives me more confidence in that situation," said Wiley, who wasn't cleared to play even pickup basketball until late this past summer.

After missing all of last season, Wiley's return to form has been slow at both ends. He came into the game shooting just 26.8 percent from the field overall (11 of 41) and 30.8 on 3-pointers (eight of 26). He also seemed a step – or two –  slow at the defensive end.

It hasn't been for a lack of effort.

"Dion's been working, he's been coming early, staying late, doing extra sprints, doing extra running," Turgeon said. "He wants it. It's been hard for him to find a rhythm. Tonight, what he found late in the game I'm hoping is going to carry over for us."

Turgeon had hoped the same thing nearly a month ago, when Wiley hit four of five 3-pointers in a 48-point romp over St. Mary's. The next two games, in the Barclays Center Classic against Richmond and Kansas State, Wiley failed to score, missing all seven shots, including four 3-pointers.

Monday's performance came after Wiley didn't hit a shot in 18 minutes against Saint Peter's - going 0 for 3 from the field - and was part of the group that saw a 25-point lead dwindle to 10 in the second half, leading to Turgeon saying afterward that he wasn't going to use players strictly on past performance or potential.

Asked how close he is to being completely healthy, Wiley said, "I think I'm 100 percent. Just the flow of the game and just getting used to being back playing, and the speed of the game, I think it's coming back for me slowly but surely. It was a process."

Junior guard Melo Trimble, who is both Wiley's roommate and one of his closest friends, said it was good for the rest of the Terps to see.

"He cam e off the bench and really gave us a spark, hitting his jump shot and getting to the basket," said Trimble, who scored a team-high 23 points. "I was happy to see that, we really haven't seen that from Dion this year. Hopefully going forward he's going to really start to play and play well."

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