Terps fight back in 2nd half to drop Clemson, 88-79

February 24, 2010 | Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — It looked like Maryland was on the verge of being run out of the gym halfway through the first half on Wednesday night.

With their top three rebounders stuck on the bench with two fouls apiece and Greivis Vasquez struggling through the effects of a stomach bug, the Terps’ perfect home record in ACC play looked to be in serious jeopardy, having already suffered a 15-0 Clemson run as the Tigers capitalized on second-chance opportunities and continued to hit shots from beyond the arc.

Instead of falling further behind (Maryland had trailed by 15 points with 9:29 remaining), a makeshift rotation that included freshman James Padgett weathered the final five minutes of the first half and actually cut the halftime deficit to nine, keeping the Terps within striking distance. Maryland responded with a 49-point explosion in the second half—and held Clemson to just 31—on its way to an 88-79 victory.

“That was one of those games where you find out a little bit more about yourself as you go through the year as a team,” coach Gary Williams said. “It was a good test for us, not that we wanted to be in that situation against a team as good as Clemson. But we were there, and we had to handle it. We did a good job in the second half.”

Receiving contributions from numerous players, Maryland shot a white-hot 60 percent from the field in the second half and made five of seven 3-pointers (8-for-13 overall). None was bigger than Vasquez’s triple to complete the second-half comeback and give the Terps a 70-67 lead with 7:26 remaining. It was a lead Maryland would not relinquish as it improved to 10-3 in the ACC and tightened its grip on second place, a game behind Duke in the loss column.

Four Maryland players reached double-digit scoring, but the most encouraging contribution came from sophomore Sean Mosley who scored 20 points, rebounding from an extended slump and flashing the form he showed in the first two months of the season. Mosley scored the first seven points of the game for the Terps and finished 6-for-8 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.

“I got the feel for the game early,” he said. “Every time I touched the ball or got an open look, I let it go. Every time it left my hand it felt like it was going in. It was just me playing aggressive.”

After struggling against the Clemson press in the first half, Maryland settled down and ran the half-court offense efficiently with Vasquez dishing out 13 assists in addition to his 15 points—13 of which came in the second half. On a night when the senior captain was clearly not 100 percent, his vision was brilliant in finding open teammates for high-percentage shots.

Maryland also found the answer in stopping standout forward Trevor Booker who dominated the first half with 11 points and eight rebounds. A combination of Jordan Williams and Dino Gregory held the Clemson big man to just two points and one rebound in the second half.

“Booker’s a great player,” said Jordan Williams, who finished with 18 points and five rebounds despite dealing with foul trouble for much of the night. “He’s a great rebounder and he plays inside-out, so I was chasing him a little bit out to the 3-point line, so it was tough for me to get rebounds tonight.”

As they have throughout the conference schedule at Comcast Center, the Terps played the second half with a higher energy level and overwhelmed their opponent, transforming what looked like their biggest challenge at home to date into a second-half shellacking.

And unlike the way it wilted in the final five minutes after briefly taking a second-half lead in the teams’ first meeting (being outscored 12-3 and losing 62-53), Maryland tightened its grip instead of finding satisfaction with the lead.

“We just wanted to keep trying to push it until it was over,” Jordan Williams said. “We didn’t want to get too excited and lose what we’d done to get there. That’s a sign of a good team.”

Now 20-7 and 10-3 in the ACC, Maryland appears to be an absolute lock for the NCAA tournament and is in outstanding shape for a first-round bye in the ACC tournament in Greensboro. After the game, Gary Williams made it clear just how good of a win he thought it was for his team—and take a shot at the lack of respect the ACC has received this year.

“You can’t tell me that a team like Clemson is not good enough to be in the NCAA tournament,” he said. “It just seems like it’s okay for other conferences to play great games between two good basketball teams. I think Clemson will show down the stretch that they are a worthy basketball team.”

- Vasquez moved into fourth place on Maryland’s career scoring list, passing John Lucas (2,015) and Adrian Branch (2,017) and now has 2,028 points in his career. The basket that moved him past Branch and into fourth place was the same shot that gave Maryland a 70-67 lead with 7:26 to play, the team’s first lead since early in the first half.

The senior guard also matched a season-high with 13 assists, eight coming in the first half.

- Eric Hayes led the Terps with 12 first-half points on 5-for-8 shooting. The senior finished the game with 15 points and three assists.

- Four Terps scored in double figures, making it the 14th time this season that at least four Maryland players had reached double-digit scoring. Mosley led the way with 20, Williams scored 18, and Vasquez and Hayes each chipped in 15 points.

- Maryland improved its record to 3-7 when trailing at the half and 3-3 in ACC play.

Check out the final stats here and the live blog below.

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11:01 p.m. — Maryland leads 88-79 as the students begin to chant “We Want Duke!”

This one’s in the books. After a very rocky first half, the Terps come out and play an outstanding second half.

Final score: Maryland 88, Clemson 79.

Back shortly with the post-game wrap.

11:00 p.m. — Vasquez puts this one in the books with a fallaway jumper to make it a seven-point lead inside a minute to play.

10:59 p.m. — Jordan Williams goes to the bench with his fourth foul. He’s done a great job in the second half staying out of foul trouble after picking up two in the first half.

10:57 p.m. — Maryland absolutely got bailed out by Milton Jennings on that one. Would have been very difficult to create a decent look with the shot clock dwindling.

Vasquez goes to the line and drains both freebies, and Maryland leads 84-77.

10:55 p.m. — Stitt scores to cut the lead to five points, but the Terps beat the pressure across the timeline nicely. Maryland will call a timeout with 2:02 remaining.

10:53 p.m. — Trevor Booker picks up his third foul to send Williams to the line. Despite a very strong night, the frosh continues to struggle at the line, missing two.

10:51 p.m. — At the final media timeout, Maryland leads Clemson 82-75 with 3:38 to play.

10:50 p.m. — Vasquez sinks a pair of free throws to give him 11 points for the game. The Terps now have four players in double figures.

Young hits a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to five points. Still plenty of time in this one.

10:47 p.m. — As much as he’s been beaten up lately for his offensive woes, Mosley is having an outstanding game with 18 points and several strong defensive plays. This team could do some special things if he can regain his early-season form from the offensive end of the floor.

10:46 p.m. — What a scene to watch Vasquez mop up the wet floor. What a team player!

10:44 p.m. — As dominant as Clemson looked during its 15-0 run in the first half, Maryland quite possibly looks even better right now.

Just an unbelievable run, and the Tigers are on life support with less than six minutes to play.

10:43 p.m. — This place is going berserk as Hayes hits a three to put the Terps up by eight. Unbelievable energy!

A Clemson turnover leads to a Vasquez dunk.

Timeout, Clemson.

Maryland leads 77-67 with 6:03 remaining.

10:40 p.m. — Not only did Vasquez just put the Terps up by 3 points, but he now sits in fourth place on the Terps’ all-time scoring list.

Talk about GREAT timing.

10:39 p.m. — Jordan Williams makes two freebies while Eric Hayes misses two?

And, oh yeah, the sky is green.

10:36 p.m. — We’ve reached another media timeout with Clemson holding a 67-65 advantage with 7:52 to go.

10:35 p.m. — Hayes continues to show aggression in going to the basket. If teams have to respect the drive, it will create so many more opportunities for the sharp-shooter on the perimeter.

However, are my eyes deceiving me or did Hayes just miss TWO free throws in a row?

Wow.

10:33 p.m. — Not resting on his laurels from Saturday, Tucker is having a very nice game with eight points after a very nice take.

Have to be impressed with the resiliency displayed by this team tonight after it looked like it could easily get blown out in the first half.

10:31 p.m. — Huge advantage for the Terps to be in the bonus already with 10:34 remaining. Of course, you still need to make your free throws.

Tucker misses the second, but Gregory grabs the offensive board. Mosley CONNECTS on the 3-pointer and we’re tied at 63!

10:28 p.m. — Jerai Grant fouls out with 11:18 to go. He still has time to make it home for the 11 p.m. Sportscenter.

Milbourne goes to the line and hits a pair to cut the lead to 2, the closest the Terps have been since Clemson went on a 15-0 run.

10:24 p.m. — Great second and third effort by Williams to get the tip-in. It’s a four-point game with 12 minutes to go.

Following a Clemson miss, Tucker dripples up the floor but loses it. With his great athleticism, Tucker would be such a dangerous player going to the basket—if only he had a handle.

We’ve reached the under-12 media timeout with Clemson leading Maryland, 61-57 with 11:46 remaining.

10:22 p.m. — Nice hands by Tucker force the steal, but Vasquez cannot hit the well-chronicled pull-up 3-pointer. That one would have been big.

10:20 p.m. — Noel Johnson misses the jumper, but Clemson grabs another offensive board, leading to a 3-pointer by Andre Young. Second-chance points have just killed the Terps this evening.

10:17 p.m. — Comcast has just ERUPTED after Tucker hits the triple to cut the lead to three points.

Timeout on the floor as Clemson continues to hold a much smaller lead, 56-53 with 15:14 to go.

10:16 p.m. — After Clemson comes right back with an answer, Tanner Smith fouls Jordan Williams, but the big man finishes the play.

The frosh goes to the line but cannot connect. He’s got 10 for the game.

10:15 p.m. — Mosley takes it all the way to the hole, drawing the foul on Devin Booker. Nice to see Mosley stay aggressive after the last failed attempt at the basket.

Crowd getting back into it as Mosley completes the three-point play.

10:14 p.m. — Big-time 3-pointer by Milbourne to cut the lead to seven points.

Perhaps that will get the Terps going. They need a jumpstart badly.

10:12 p.m. — Vasquez just picked up the foul on a push. Didn’t see much there, and neither did Jordan Williams who was very demonstrative in showing his displeasure.

10:09 p.m. — I’m not sure what that last take was by Mosley. Think I saw that one in a junior high game recently.

Maryland takes the timeout as Hayes gets into trouble against the Clemson D.

Not the way you wanted to start this half at all, even with Grant picking up four fouls for Clemson.

10:07 p.m. — Two turnovers in a row as Maryland is really struggling against the Clemson press.

10:06 p.m. — Four fouls on Grant. Maybe Oliver Purnell lost count.

10:05 p.m. — Great decision to go after Grant. The big man picks up his third foul in the first 10 seconds of the half.

Milbourne makes 1-of-2 from the line.

10:04 p.m. — Maryland will get the ball to begin the second half. Definitely need to start the half strongly.

10:02 p.m. — Vasquez has just two points at the break. So much for my prediction.

He looks VERY tired out there tonight after looking fatigued on Saturday.

Definitely something to watch in the second half.

9:59 p.m. — Both the Terps and Tigers shooting 50 percent from the field AND 3-point range at the break. Unfortunately, Clemson is 8-for-16 from beyond the arc while Maryland has made 3-of-6.

9:48 p.m. — We’ve reached the end of the first half with Clemson holding a 48-39 advantage over the Terps. With all of the foul trouble, things could be MUCH worse for Maryland.

9:46 p.m. — Having your top-3 rebounders on the bench with two fouls each is a very scary proposition.

If the Terps can keep the lead at single digits going into the half it has to be a huge moral victory.

9:40 p.m. — Lost in the Clemson dominance has been the struggles of Vasquez. He finally gets one to fall.

A possession later after Potter hits a triple, Padgett brings the crowd to its feet with the monster slam!

The pace has again picked up as we reach the final media timeout of the half. Clemson leads 39-33 with 3:07 remaining.

9:38 p.m. — A huge 3-ball from Hayes cuts the deficit to seven points, the closest the Terps have been in quite awhile.

It’s nice to see Maryland weather the storm after that crippling 15-0 run, but the Terps need to tread water until the intermission.

9:36 p.m. — A beautiful pass from Vasquez and an even better finish from Hayes, who’s really been finishing well at the bucket of late.

With Jordan Williams heading to the bench with his second foul, James Padgett checks into the game. That’s a MAJOR problem.

9:34 p.m. — Not that we needed to really see the numbers, but Clemson is outrebounding Maryland 14-7 and already has six offensive boards.

9:31 p.m. — Devin Booker jams in the missed 3-pointer now. Unbelievable.

We’ve reached the under-8 media timeout with Maryland trailing 33-20.

9:29 p.m. — Booker skies high for the tip-in. I’m at a loss for words right now. Clemson is just running the Terps out of the gym in every aspect of the game right now.

Following another Booker score, Mosley drives into the paint and finds Williams for the two-handed jam.

9:27 p.m. — Milbourne goes to the bench with his second foul. Not good at all.

9:26 p.m. — Milbourne with the blocked shot on the other end. The Terps need a couple more plays like that to get the crowd back in it

Other than the early scoring surge by Mosley in the first four minutes, Maryland is just searching for anything positive.

9:24 p.m. — Besides the obvious concern of a 13-point deficit, you have to be even more worried when you factor in the Clemson press. Maryland is in some serious danger right now, and it will have to handle the press to climb back into this one.

Milbourne hits a jumper right out of the timeout to end the run.

9:22 p.m. — The Terps have mercifully reached the second media timeout. It is not a pretty sight at Comcast Center right now.

Clemson leads 27-14 with 11:23 to go in the first half.

9:21 p.m. — Noel Johnson hits a triple to extend the run to 10-0.

Gregory looking like he did on Sunday with another blown layup.

Potter hits a triple and another Johnson bucket makes it a 15-0 run.

Wow.

9:18 p.m. — The Tigers have scored seven unanswered points and Gary Williams wants to talk it over.

Not sure the lineup on the floor right now will provide much of anything points-wise and as I type that, Vasquez walks to the score table.

9:17 p.m. — Dino Gregory is the first sub off the bench for the Terps. The reserve big man has played very well off the bench in recent weeks. I like seeing the Terps go with the bigger lineup against the tough tandem of Booker and Grant.

Tucker enters the game to a huge ovation. I wonder why?

9:12 p.m. — We’ve reached the first media timeout (I need to catch my breath!) with Clemson holding a slight 15-14 lead with 15:14 remaining.

9:11 p.m. — Nice fake by Mosley as he takes it to the basket and draws the foul. Hitting the two early jumpers could do WONDERS for his offensive game tonight.

He hits a pair of freebies, and he has nine points. The Baltimore sophomore is on pace for 90 points. That would probably be a record.

9:10 p.m. — Twenty points scored in the game’s first three minutes. The way this one is going, the teams will have more points at the half than they did in their first meeting (62-53 final score).

9:08 p.m. — Mosley with the first seven points of the game. I’m guessing anyone in Vegas that put money on that one is a rich man right now.

9:06 p.m. — Clemson controls the opening tip and finds Booker inside, but his shot is rejected by Milbourne. Going the other way Vasquez tries to find Milbourne, bu the Terps turn it over.

Potter hits a 3 for the first points of the game, but Mosley answers with a mid-range jumper and then hits a 3-pointer on the Terps’ next possession.

That’s quite the answer to the critics—myself included.

9:04 p.m. — We’re about ready for the tip. Clemson will wear purple with the Terps once again sporting the gold as they have throughout the conference home schedule.

9:00 p.m. — Maryland natives David Potter (Severn) and Jerai Grant (Bowie) earn some extra boos from the Comcast Crowd during starting lineups.

8:53 p.m. –Virginia Tech is just getting punked at Boston College tonight, losing 77-55 with four minutes to play. The Hokies will be a desperate team on Saturday afternoon.

I’m waiting for Rich to check in to say he called the Tech upset. Good work, buddy.

8:51 p.m. — The Terps just came back onto the floor to a video highlighting Cliff Tucker’s game-winning shot from Saturday to a huge ovation from the student section. No threat of an emotional letdown from the students thus far.

8:50 p.m. — Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Clemson
G Demontez Stitt
G Tanner Smith
F David Potter
F Jerai Grant
F Trevor Booker

Maryland

G Eric Hayes
G Greivis Vasquez
G Sean Mosley
F Landon Milbourne
F Jordan Williams

8:48 p.m. — Duane Simpkins is the honorary captain for tonight’s game.

8:40 p.m. — Maryland will once again wear its gold uniforms for tonight’s game. The Terps are undefeated wearing them this season (6-0) and are 11-2 over the last three seasons since re-introducing them in the 2007-08 season. Thanks to Patrick Stevens (D1scourse) for passing along that note.

8:30 p.m. — Adding to the accolades, Vasquez was today named one of 30 mid-season candidates for the Naismith Trophy.

No real surprise there but just passing it along.

8:20 p.m. — Good evening from Comcast Center as we get set to watch the Clemson Tigers  (19-7, 7-5 ACC) take on the Maryland Terrapins (19-7, 9-3) at 9:00 p.m.

The teams met back on Jan. 31 when it was Clemson besting the Terps at Littlejohn Coliseum, 62-53. Maryland was haunted by a season-high 26 turnovers and was outscored 12-3 in the final 5:36 of the game after briefly taking a second-half lead. Despite an off night for Trevor Booker, Jerai Grant was the star for the Tigers, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the victory.

Both teams currently enjoy three-game winning streaks with Maryland holding a two-game lead over the Tigers in the conference. Taking a closer look at the teams’ respective NCAA tournament resumes, Clemson and Maryland are neck-and-neck in the RPI (33rd and 34th respectively), so tonight’s game is pivotal not only in the ACC standings but also for jockeying for position in the eyes of the selection committee.

Clemson is of course led by Booker, averaging 15.3 points and 8.2 rebounds a contest, and Demontez Stitt (10.6 ppg) who did not play in the team’s first meeting. Stitt figures to provide a much tougher test to the Maryland backcourt than anyone the Terps encountered at Clemson.

The Terps will try to guard against an emotional letdown following Saturday’s incredible 76-74 win over Georgia Tech. Rumor has it that Cliff Tucker hasn’t slept in 72 hours while trying to keep up with his Facebook new friend requests. I kid, I kid.

These next three games (at Virginia Tech on Saturday, Duke next Wednesday) will determine a great deal in figuring out exactly where Maryland stands in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments. Standing alone in second place, the Terps are in great shape for a first-round bye in Greensboro but clearly need to hold serve at Comcast Center tonight before a tough road test in Blacksburg on Saturday.

Another story to watch during tonight’s game is the continued climb of Greivis Vasquez on the Maryland career scoring list. Currently standing at 2,013 points, the senior needs just two points to match John Lucas and four points to equal Adrian Branch. Needless to say, barring a freak injury or MAJOR struggles, Vasquez will be sitting fourth on the list behind Juan Dixon, Len Bias, and Albert King before the intermission. Impressive company to say the very least.

Tonight’s game will be televised on Raycom (WNUV-TV 54 in Baltimore) with Tim Brant and Dan Bonner on the call.

As always, stay right here at WNST.net throughout the game and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) where you’ll hear thoughts from Glenn Clark and other WNST personalities.

Tonight’s game

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