COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland’s homestand began against Longwood last Tuesday, and if you only paid attention to the final scores, you’d think the Terps had played the lowly Lancers in a three-game set instead of conference opponents NC State and Miami in the last two.
The Terps continued their early dominance in the ACC with a convincing 81-59 win over Miami at the Comcast Center on Tuesday night. Maryland (14-5, 4-1 ACC) raced out to a 14-4 lead in the first seven minutes of the game and never let the last-place Hurricanes weather the storm as four Terps reached double-digit scoring for the third game in a row.
A trademark of last season was the Terps’ inability to hold second-half leads against ACC opponents, but this year’s squad has tightened its grip on opponents instead of letting them sneak their way back into contests.
“This year we’ve done a great job of coming out and starting games strong and finishing games the same way,” said sophomore Sean Mosley. “It’s just the mindset that we have this year that we can’t lose a game when we’re up by 20 points. We’ve just been coming out and playing hard for 40 minutes.”
Greivis Vasquez and Landon Milbourne led the way with 16 points apiece while Mosley and Eric Hayes each contributed 10 in the blowout victory. While Vasquez has been the top—and sometimes only—scoring threat for Maryland over his four-year career, the improved balance exhibited by the Terps has led to four conference victories by a combined 71 points.
“You have to be able to play off each other,” head coach Gary Williams said about his team’s balanced attack on both ends of the floor against Miami.
Defensively, the Terps forced 14 Miami turnovers in the first half and held Dwayne Collins, the Hurricanes’ leading scorer, to a meager five points and three field goal attempts for the game. Freshman Jordan Williams continues to be the difference maker in the paint, freeing Milbourne to play to his strengths further away from the basket.
The Terps’ senior leadership and experience has led to the improved defensive effort. Whether it’s the improved team rebounding or simply diving on the floor for loose balls in the paint, the defense has played with confidence and enthusiasm.
“We are trying to believe that our defense is what is responsible for our ability to run our offense and get good shots,” Gary Williams said. “I think the aggressiveness on the defensive end of the court funnels into the offensive part of the game.”
Needless to say, the Terps are feeling good about themselves and rightfully so. While Maryland hasn’t exactly played the best the ACC has to offer, it’s beating the teams it should beat—and convincingly.
Despite finding his team in first place, Gary Williams is quick to point out how early it is in the conference schedule—and how quickly things can change for the worse.
“We have to go on the road for two games [against Clemson and Florida State]. We’ll see where we are [after that].”
You only have to think back to November to find a similar quote from the Maryland coach following a blowout over New Hampshire and a 3-0 start. The No. 21 Terps then went to Hawaii and dropped two games to power-conference teams (Cincinnati and Wisconsin) in the Maui Invitational and limped home with only a win over Division II Chaminade to their credit. The effort in Maui lacked a pulse as the Terps appeared disinterested in the opportunity to make a statement.
Sunday’s game at Clemson will help clarify the picture of just how good this team really is. Though clearly not a must-win, a victory at Littlejohn would emphatically put the Terps in the conference championship discussion—or as much as you can be after six games. A loss wouldn’t kill their momentum by any stretch, but the lingering doubts of whether the Terps can beat tougher opponents would remain.
Maryland is certainly looking the part of a serious force to be reckoned with in the ACC, beating up on the bottom-feeders of the conference.
Now the Terps can show it on the road against one of the perceived big boys.
– After a 24-point win over NC State and a 22-point victory over Miami, the Terps have earned back-to-back 20-plus point wins over ACC schools for the first time since February 2003 when they defeated North Carolina (96-56) and Clemson (91-52).
– The 4-1 start is Maryland’s best conference start since opening 6-1 in the 2002-03 season.
– Miami came into the game averaging 75.7 points per game on 47.5 percent shooting, but the Terps held the Hurricanes to 59 points and 38.3 percent shooting. Maryland has held its last four opponents to under 40 percent shooting.
– Vasquez moved into sixth place on Maryland’s career scoring list, passing Lonny Baxter, who had 1,858 in his career.
– The Terps have outscored their opponents in the paint over the last four games by a combined 180-76. Maryland held a 42-20 advantage in the win over Miami.
– Maryland has now outrebounded its opponent in seven of its last eight games.
Check out the final stats right here and the live blog below.
8:56 p.m. — This one is over. You HAVE to be happy with this one. Maryland wins, and it was never close.
Final score: Maryland 81, Miami 59
Back in a bit with the post-game wrap.
8:54 p.m. — McGowan with the airball. That pretty much sums up the entire evening for Miami tonight.
8:53 p.m. — Levent turns it over but hustles down the floor to affect the shot on the other end.
1:05 remaining in this one. I THINK it’s safe to say this one is over.
8:51 p.m. — And here comes Ersin Levent. Maryland has been so good lately it feels like these guys are becoming a part of the regular rotation.
8:49 p.m. — David Pearman is at the score table and is set to check in, replacing Vasquez to a big ovation. Another fine night by the Maryland leader.
8:47 p.m. — We’ve reached the final media timeout of the night as plenty of Maryland faithful are heading to the exits. Can’t say I blame them one bit.
Maryland leads 79-52 with 3:39 remaining.
8:45 p.m. — Vasquez finds Bowie on a very nice cut for the easy two.
Bowie picks up the foul on the other end, and Jordan Williams exits to a big hand. Another fine performance from the freshman forward.
8:43 p.m. — Hayes and Mosley exit the floor to a nice ovation. You would think their nights are done with a 29-point lead and 4:45 remaining in this one.
8:40 p.m. — The Terps have four players in double figures with Milbourne leading the way with 17, Vasquez with 16, and Hayes and Mosley each with 10. It marks the third game in a row that at least four players have posted double-digit scoring numbers. Very impressive, but let’s not kid ourselves: Longwood, NC State, and Miami aren’t exactly Kentucky, Texas, and Syracuse.
8:37 p.m. — Maryland is up by 32 points. What is there to say other than Maryland is looking very good, and Miami looks very bad.
8:35 p.m. — With the Terps trying to hold on to a 28-point lead, I couldn’t help but notice Clemson is struggling against Boston College, down nine point with 10 minutes to go.
It looks as though the Terps are getting the Tigers at the right time as they’ve strugged over the last couple games.
8:32 p.m. — We’ve reached another media timeout as this one cannot end soon enough for the Terps. They lead Miami, 71-43, with 9:13 remaining.
8:28 p.m. — I have to ask the question at this point. How in the you know what did Miami beat Wake Forest a few weeks ago? This is downright UGLY.
8:24 p.m. — Former Terp and national champion Byron Mouton is in attendance tonight. He has to be liking what he sees out of the Terrapins this evening.
8:23 p.m. — Tucker with the nice give to Gregory who goes up for the dunk but is fouled by Julian Gamble. Gregory hits both, and the lead is now 26 points.
8:21 p.m. — Bowie takes it inside and is fouled by Collins. Count the basket! The Canes’ leading scorer just picked up his third foul.
The Canes could sure use Jack McClinton right now, couldn’t they?
8:20 p.m. — Very nice drive by Scott on that one. However, Bowie hits a rare triple for the Terps.
8:18 p.m. — Scott tries to drive the lane, but Mosley knocks it away. Following a Reggie Johnson miss on an easy putback attempt, Mosley drills the triple. Everything is working tonight for the Terrapins as the lead is up to 21, matching their biggest of the night.
8:14 p.m. — Mosley drives and scores, hitting the deck hard, but he’s alright.
We’ve reached the first media timeout of the second half with Maryland holding a very comfortable 55-37 lead over the Canes.
8:13 p.m. — Dews fouls Mosley, and the sophomore will go to the line for two. He hits 1-of-2 and has five points on the night.
Following a Williams block, Milbourne hits the jumper from the elbow to give him 15 points on the night. It may not be flashy, but he’s having a tremendous evening.
8:11 p.m. — Slow start to the second half as both teams have exchanged misses on their first two possessions down the floor.
DeQuan Jones hits the first bucket of the second half to cut the lead to 15 points.
Williams answers with the shot in the paint. It cannot be understated how impressive this kid is and how much better the Terps are because of it.
8:06 p.m. — We’re just a couple minutes away from the start of the second half.
The Hurricanes turned it over a whopping 14 times in the first half despite shooting 50 percent from the field. The Maryland defense was just relentless in the first half.
7:52 p.m. — Cliff Tucker picks up the cheap foul to send Dews to the line for a 1-and-1. Dews hits them both, and the Terps will have a final shot. Bowie misses the 3-pointer. I guess not EVERYTHING went right for the Terps in the first half, but it’s pretty darn close.
Maryland leads Miami at the break, 48-31.
7:50 p.m. — Milbourne’s shot is rejected underneath, and Gary Williams will use a 30-second timeout with 35.9 seconds remaining in the half.
Following the timeout, Vasquez calls the foul as he caught McGowan in the air and forced up a shot to draw the trip to the line. The senior drains both freebies to push the lead back up to 19 points.
7:48 p.m. — Hayes picks up the cheap foul off the long rebound to Scott on the free throw miss. Scott hits them both to cut the Maryland lead to 18 points with 1:30 remaining.
Bowie finds Williams inside and the freshman is fouled by McGowan, sending him to the line for two. It’s clear how much more confidence Gary Williams and the Terps have in the freshman’s offensive game. He hits 1-of-2 freebies.
7:45 p.m. — Collins is completely out of sync in this one as he just got called for the walk. Williams and Gregory have done a fine job defending the senior, making him look like the underclassmen in the battle.
7:44 p.m. — Milbourne hits the jumper from the elbow, giving him 11 for the game to lead the Terps.
On the other end, the Terps cannot grab the board, leading to a second-chance opportunity for Collins and he’s fouled. The Canes’ leading scorer misses both free throws. This is just ugly for Miami.
7:40 p.m. — Very unselfish play by Vasquez who could have easily taken an off-balanced shot in the paint but he kicks it out to Milbourne for the wide-open triple.
Following a Dews basket on the other end, Vasquez hits a 3-pointer of his own as everything seems to be clicking for the Terps in the first half tonight.
An airball will send us into the final media timeout of the first half. Maryland is really working over the Hurricanes in this one, 41-24 with 3:33 to go before the break.
7:38 p.m. — The Terps are bringing a very balanced approach to tonight’s first half, mixing the perimeter shots with looks inside. The half-court offense is looking so much better than it did early in the season, but again, we’ll need to see the same effort against the tougher opponents the ACC has to offer.
7:36 p.m. — Mosley just ABUSED Thomas with that defensive work, leading to a foul and a trip to the line for the Baltimore sophomore. He hits 1-of-2, but that was quite the defensive play.
Grant hits the 3-ball for the Canes to cut the lead to 11.
7:32 p.m. — James Padgett checks into the game as Bowie throws up a wild shot, but Maryland controls the offensive rebound. Vasquez with the feed to Williams and the big man scores plus the foul. You could tell the senior from Caracas was happy with that play.
Williams drains the freebie to complete the three-point play. Maryland is now up by 15 points.
7:29 p.m. — Mosley is such a fun player to watch. Though listed at 6-foot-4, you’ll find a tough time finding anyone that believes he’s actually that height when you stand right next to him. He plays much bigger than what he is.
The three-point play gives Maryland a 29-17 lead. We’ve reached an official timeout with 7:38 remaining.
7:27 p.m. — The Canes beat the press and find Dews for a wide-open triple.
On the other end, Bowie drives the lane and sticks the layup. Nice to see the aggressive drive from the reserve guard.
7:25 p.m. — Gregory hits the jumper in the lane to give the Terps an eight-point lead. The junior really seems to be finding his role in the rotation over the last few games. Getting more production from Gregory will be a major plus for the Terps moving forward in the conference.
7:23 p.m. — Hayes drains the triple, giving him eight points to lead the Terps in the first 10 minutes of the game.
However, Collins gets on the scoreboard with the dunk for the Canes.
7:21 p.m. — We’ve reached the under-12 media timeout with Maryland continuing to hold a lead over Miami, 17-12, with 11:07 remaining in the first half.
7:19 p.m. — Thomas is fouled by Milbourne on the 3-point attempt. The Terps have done a much better job defending the outside shot this year, but we’ve seen way too much of that over the last couple seasons. The senior forward hits all three shots from the line.
7:18 p.m. — Adrian Thomas drives the lane and is fouled by Hayes, sending the forward to the line for two. Thomas hits them both.
On the other end, Milbourne hits the one-hander in the lane. He has six points already.
Thomas answers with the 3-pointer, but Hayes hits one of his own for the Terps. The pace is really starting to pick up in this one.
7:15 p.m. — Dino Gregory has checked in and forces Collins to take an off-balanced fadeway that’s short. It leads to a Vasquez bucket, and the senior forces the turnover and scores again on the dunk. Timeout, Frank Haith. Miami is just reeling right now, already down 12-2 less than seven minutes into the game.
7:12 p.m. — Collins having all kinds of problems against Williams in the low post as the freshman ties him up.
We’ve reached the first media timeout with 14:43 remaining in the half. Maryland is out to a 8-2 lead over the struggling Canes.
7:10 p.m. — Vasquez drives the lane and is called for the player-control foul. Maryland is using the press early but not with the full intensity we’ve seen at times this year.
DeQuan Jones hits the first bucket of the game for the Canes as they went the first four minutes of the game without a point.
Hayes answers immediately at the other end.
7:08 p.m. — Collins has just checked into the game for the Canes. His time on the bench was short-lived.
Collins is subsequently called for the carry. Miami looking downright anemic on the offensive end right now.
7:06 p.m. — Just a great start for the Terps defensively, forcing a 35-second violation.
Milbourne misses the baseline jumper, but Jordan Williams is right there to clean it up and put it in. We’re seeing that more and more from the freshman big man.
7:04 p.m. — Maryland comes out playing man-to-man, forcing a miss on the inside off the Canes’ first possession.
Milbourne hits a soft jumper to get the Terps on the board. That shot is just pretty when he has it going.
7:02 p.m. — Miami will go with the black unis while the Terps wear the gold duds again. Milbourne will face off against Reggie Johnson to get this one underway.
I’m a bit surprised to see Dwayne Collins coming off the bench. Perhaps Haith is trying to change his team’s fortunes–or misfortunes–of the last couple weeks.
6:50 p.m. — Here are tonight’s starting lineups:
G Durand Scott
G Malcolm Grant
G James Dews
F Cyrus McGowan
C Reggie Johnson
G Eric Hayes
G Greivis Vasquez
G Sean Mosley
F Landon Milbourne
F Jordan Williams
6:40 p.m. — Maryland will again go with the gold uniforms against the Hurricanes tonight. After the dominating performance against the Wolfpack on Saturday night, it’s hard to argue with the wardrobe choice.
6:30 p.m. — Greetings from the Comcast Center in College Park as the first-place Maryland Terrapins (13-5, 3-1 ACC) prepare to close out a three-game homestand against Miami (15-4, 1-4 ACC) at 7 p.m.
Maryland is riding high, winners of five of its last six, and is clearly playing its best basketball of the season. The Terps find themselves in a first-place tie with Virginia atop the conference after an impressive 88-64 victory over NC State on Saturday evening in Gary Williams’ 1,000th career game.
Four Terps posted double figures in scoring (Greivis Vasquez leading the way with 19) against the Wolfpack as Maryland held NC State to 36 percent shooting and an anemic 27.8 percent in the second half.
While Maryland finds itself at the top of the ACC through the quarter pole, Miami is going in the other direction in last place with a 1-4 record. The Hurricanes have lost three in a row, their most recent loss coming against Boston College last Tuesday night. While three Canes average double-figure scoring—senior forward Dwayne Collins leading the way at 12.7 ppg—coach Frank Haith is still searching for that “go-to” scorer to replace Miami standout and Baltimore product Jack McClinton who graduated last season.
The ACC has not done Miami any favors in the early part of the ACC schedule as the Canes played three of its first four conference games on the road and now begins another stretch of three of four away from the BankUnited Center. Needless to say, it’s a dubious task and Miami has struggled mightily since getting off to a 14-1 start, albeit against a very soft non-conference schedule.
It goes without saying that Miami is a very desperate team right now, and Terps fans know all too well the difficulty Maryland has had against the Canes in recent years. The schools split a pair of games last season, but Miami has still won four of the past five meetings against the Terps. With a tough battle looming at hostile Littlejohn Coliseum on Sunday night, Maryland cannot afford to overlook the struggling Hurricanes.
Tonight’s game will be televised on ESPNU with Rob Stone, Jon Barry, and Drew Barry calling the action.