Here's the truth of Maryland's 64-59 defeat of Boston College --- not a whole lot of consequence happened.
That's not to say it was dreadfully dull or a pointless exercise or there weren't some interesting subplots. It's just that the Terrapins didn't exactly advance the plot a whole lot.
If a season is like one extended story (and it usually is), there are going to be defining and memorable games. And then there's going to be filler, which is what Tuesday was.
The Terps (15-4, 3-3 ACC) played better. Their shooting was improved. They scored 60 points (a definite sign of progress).
As a result, they beat a team they should have in the youthful Eagles (9-9, 1-4). And now, Maryland moves on to a trek to Cameron Indoor Stadium and No. 1 Duke on Saturday.
Still, there has to be something to take away from this. Maybe even three things to take away. ...
1. Dez Wells: Point guard.
After the last few weeks, why not give it a whirl?
Nick Faust was a bit sloppy. Pe'Shon Howard was better than Saturday (just one turnover) but didn't generate much. The Terps didn't do much with Seth Allen on the floor.
And so it was that Wells stepped in at the point for swaths of the second half and wound up with a career-high eight assists.
This will be worth expounding on a little bit on Wednesday, but it certainly was something different for Maryland. Wells has his own turnover issues he is quick to mention, so this probably isn't a full-time thing. But it at least provides one extra option as coach Mark Turgeon sifts through the options he has at his disposal.
2. Alex Len asserts himself
The sophomore center took 14 shots, which was his most since Dec. 21 and tied for his second most on the season.
While Boston College coach Steve Donahue seemed willing to live with 16 points from the big fella on so many shots, it was a decidedly more assertive Len who showed up Tuesday for the Terps.
Len had 13 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass, and matched a career-high with 34 minutes. He was the central figure in Maryland's offense for much of the night, as well he should be.
The Terps' advantages on offense will always pivot on doing things around the basket --- whether it's Len muscling his way into ideal situations or Wells or Nick Faust getting themselves to the hoop. The more that happens, the more outside opportunities will present themselves.
It was the fifth double-double of the season for Len, who is capable of more such outbursts as the year progresses against more imposing front lines than what the Eagles can muster at this point. Maryland would be wise to make a habit of getting Len touches on as many possessions as possible, especially if he's determined to do something with those opportunities.
3. Terps go small.
Charles Mitchell played 14 minutes. James Padgett logged nine minutes, and Shaquille Cleare was on the court seven minutes.
That alone is 30 minutes, which means the Terps spent at least a quarter of the game with Jake Layman (or a guard) at the four. But it was actually more.
Breaking it down:
5:15 to 3:45: Howard-Aronhalt-Faust-Wells-Len (Terps 4-3)
3:45 to 2:31: Howard-Allen-Aronhalt-Faust-Len (Eagles 3-0)
1:13 to 0:00: Howard-Allen-Faust-Layman-Len (No score)
Time: 3:57; Score: Eagles 6-4
12:02 to 11:08: Faust-Allen-Aronhalt-Layman-Padgett (Tied 2-2)
11:08 to 8:58: Wells-Faust-Aronhalt-Layman-Cleare (Terps 8-1)
8:58 to 6:24: Wells-Faust-Aronhalt-Layman-Len (Eagles 5-4)
6:24 to 4:57: Howard-Wells-Faust-Layman-Len (Terps 4-3)
4:57 to 4:16: Howard-Allen-Wells-Layman-Len (No score)
3:48 to 2:37: Wells-Allen-Aronhalt-Layman-Len (No score)
2:37 to 2:04: Wells-Faust-Aronhalt-Layman-Len (Terps 2-0)
2:04 to 1:54: Howard-Faust-Wells-Layman-Len (Eagles 2-0)
1:54 to 0:45: Wells-Faust-Aronhalt-Layman-Len (Terps 3-2)
0:45 to 0:37: Howard-Faust-Wells-Layman-Len (No score)
0:37 to 0:35: Wells-Faust-Aronhalt-Layman-Len (No score)
0:35 to 0:16: Howard-Faust-Wells-Layman-Len (No score)
0:16 to 0:05: Howard-Aronhalt-Wells-Layman-Len (Eagles 3-1)
0:05 to 0:04: Howard-Aronhalt-Faust-Wells-Len (Terps 2-0)
0:04 to 0:00: Howard-Allen-Faust-Wells-Layman (No score)
Time: 11:34; Score: Terps 26-18
That comes out to a total of 15:31, with Maryland holding a 30-24 edge.
It might not seem overwhelming, but the Terps went small for nearly the entire final 12 minutes of the game and pulled away for a win. Credit Jake Layman's improved defense for making it possible. Credit Boston College's smallish lineup for making it somewhat necessary. But either way, it was something Maryland's hasn't done much of this season, but might just utilize a little more in the next couple months.
--- Patrick Stevens