Terps tame Wolfpack 88-64, pull into 1st place tie in ACC

January 23, 2010 | Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Despite holding a 41-33 lead over NC State at the half, one had the sense Maryland was not satisfied with an eight-point advantage over the Wolfpack despite completely controlling the tempo of the first half.

The Terps responded with their most impressive half of the season, outscoring the Wolfpack 47-31 on 66.7 percent shooting in the second half and displaying a feverish intensity in an 88-64 rout at the Comcast Center. The win, coupled with a Virginia loss to Wake Forest earlier in the day, lands Maryland (13-5, 3-1 ACC) in a first-place tie with the Cavaliers in the ACC through the quarter pole of the schedule.

Greivis Vasquez exploded for 17 points in the second half after primarily looking to involve his teammates in the first half of play. The senior also did fine work in helping freshman forward Jordan Williams double-team Tracy Smith on several occasions, as the Maryland big man limited the Pack’s leading scorer to six points in the first half.

“I was just trying to get everyone involved and be a good leader and good point guard,” Vasquez said about his first-half effort. “[In the] second half, my mentality was a little different [scoring-wise].”

The Wolfpack could not match Maryland’s defensive intensity, shooting just 27.8 percent from the field in the second half and generally being outhustled by the Terps. Maryland repeatedly dove for loose balls throughout the evening, even drawing pronounced cheers from Ravens coach John Harbaugh (attending the game with owner Steve Bisciotti and coordinators Cam Cameron and Greg Mattison) on one occasion.

“What you try to preach is if the ball is in the paint, you’ve got to go get it,” said coach Gary Williams, coaching in his 1,000th career game.

Vasquez led the Terps with 19 points while Landon Milbourne scored 18 and Sean Mosley chipped in 13, getting to the line a game-high 13 times (8-for-13).

With Vasquez not looking for his shot in the first half, reserve guard Cliff Tucker took advantage of opportunities, coming off the bench to score nine points before the break and 11 for the game. Tucker’s continued improvement gives Maryland a dangerous threat off the bench that contributes on both ends of the floor. An improved attitude and effort during practice has pushed Tucker into his coach’s good graces and led to more minutes for the junior.

Although the Terps were clearly the better team on paper entering Saturday night’s game, they could not afford to allow Sidney Lowe’s team to build on the confidence gained from its upset over Duke on Wednesday night. Any lingering good feelings for the Wolfpack were squashed by Maryland’s dominant second-half performance.

“We talked at halftime about overcoming adversity and that just because they had their run, we couldn’t let them take over the game,” Tucker said. “We came out and wanted to put it away in the first five minutes [of the second half], and that’s what we did.”

Through the first quarter of the ACC schedule, parity reigns supreme as 10 of the 12 teams hold at least two losses, with Virginia (3-1) and the Terps being the only one-loss teams.

While Maryland has not faced the cream of the crop in the early part of the ACC schedule (Duke, Clemson, and Georgia Tech are my best guesses, but who can with this season?), the Terps are playing their best basketball of the season, having won eight of their last 10 and five of their last six. Only a narrow 85-83 overtime loss at Wake Forest has kept Maryland from an undefeated record in ACC play.

“We can’t get too happy, and we can’t get too low,” Vasquez said. “We’ve got to be in the middle. We’ve got to continue to finish strong and work hard, just like in practice.”

No one really knows just how well Maryland stacks up with the rest of the ACC, but it’s hard to argue with the Terps’ chances at this point. Next up will be Miami (15-4, 1-4 ACC) who comes to College Park to close out a three-game homestand for the Terps on Tuesday night.

“We have 12 [conference games] to play, so we just look at Miami and we’ll prepare just like we did for NC State,” Williams said. “We will be ready to go when we play on Tuesday, and we’ll take it from there.”

- Maryland’s win over NC State was its sixth in a row against the Wolfpack. The Terps’ longest streak against State is seven, a streak that extended from Jan. 29, 1983 to Feb. 27, 1985. The 24-point win is Maryland’s largest over an ACC opponent since a 91-52 victory over Clemson on Feb. 25, 2003.

- At 3-1, the Terps are off to their best start in the ACC since 2002-03.

- After six Terps reached double figures against Longwood on Tuesday, Maryland had four players reach double digits against NC State (Vasquez, Milbourne, Mosley, and Tucker).

- The Wolfpack had averaged 82.0 ppg over its previous three games, all against ranked ACC opponents, but the Maryland defense surrendered just 64 points in the impressive win. The Terps held NC State to just two fast-break points.

- Milbourne scored in double figures for the eighth straight game. The senior forward went 7-for-11 from the field and 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.

Check out the box score right here and the live blog below.

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8:00 p.m. — As I said in my pregame thoughts, the Terps were clearly the better team on paper, but you have to go out on the floor and take care of business against a team riding high after a big win. And that’s exactly what Maryland did tonight.

Final score: Maryland 88, NC State 64

Back in a little bit with my post-game wrap-up.

7:58 p.m. — David Pearman and Ersin Levent are set to check in. Typing that always gives me a fuzzy feeling inside, and it has nothing to do with any kind of man-crush before you ask questions.

7:54 p.m. — Gregory goes to the line for two and sinks them both. Maryland now leads by 25 points.

James Padgett has checked in for the Terps as has DeShawn Painter for the Wolfpack.

7:51 p.m. — Vasquez with an ill-advised, long 3-ball, and it’s good. Why not? The senior gives a shoulder shimmy just to add style points. He now has 17 points in the second half despite being in foul trouble. A tremendous performance from the senior.

We’ve reached the final media timeout of the second half with Maryland blowing NC State right out of the Comcast Center, 82-59 with 3:26 remaining.

7:49 p.m. — Tucket hits the jumper to push the lead up to 22 points. In limited minutes, the reserve guard has 11 points and has played with plenty of confidence. Definitely a good sign for the Terps as they get into the meat of the ACC schedule.

7:47 p.m. — Mosley finds Gregory inside, and the junior forward scores.

On the other end, the Terps cannot control the glass, allowing State to grab two offensive boards and Smith to finish the possession with a bucket.

Mosley with a tremendous bounce pass to Bowie who scores plus one. Just a pretty play right there.

7:45 p.m. — To say that Gary Williams didn’t like that call would be an understatement, don’t you think?

7:44 p.m. — Vasquez just picked up the offensive foul, his fourth, and he’ll go to the bench.

Mosley picks up the foul, sending Horner to the line for two shots. The senior hits a pair to give him four points on a very quiet night.

7:39 p.m. — We’ve reached the under-8 media timeout with the Terps in completely control of this one with 7:58 remaining. Maryland leads the Pack, 72-51.

7:37 p.m. — Hayes with the give to Milbourne who goes up and underneath for the reverse layup, giving the Terps a 19-point lead. With 8:25 remaining, the Wolfpack need to make a run soon if it wants a chance to come back in this one.

Howell goes to the line for two and misses them both. That won’t get it done.

The Terps work it up the floor, and Vasquez scores with the left hand. Maryland leads by 21 points at 72-51. Timeout, NC State.

7:33 p.m. — You can tell Lowe told his team to work the ball inside to Smith at halftime. The forward is barely keeping his team in it in the second half, scoring eight points already.

7:31 p.m. — You have to be impressed with the Terps’ energy tonight after this team has been accused by many—including me—of coming out flat in several big games this season. Diving for loose balls has been a pretty regular scene tonight, and you could tell Gary Williams appreciated the effort on that last possession.

7:30 p.m. — Making up for some earlier misses, Mosley drains them both, and the Terps lead by 18 points.

Williams goes up to defend the Smith shot and appears to block the shot but catches some contact, drawing his second foul of the evening. Smith makes them both for the Pack.

7:27 p.m. — Mosley again takes the ball to the hole and is fouled. He’ll go to the line for two more after the media timeout.

Maryland leads North Carolina State with 11:42 remaining in the second half, 61-45.

7:25 p.m. — Mosley has clearly shown in the last two games that he appears fully-recovered from the ankle sprain sustained on Christmas night. However, he’s struggling from the charity stripe tonight, shooting just 4-for-9.

7:23 p.m. — Milbourne drains another jumper, and Maryland is just dominating the second half to this point.

However, Howell scores inside to quiet the crowd momentarily.

To answer, Vasquez scores AGAIN. He has 10 points in the first seven minutes of the second half.

7:22 p.m. — Off the in-bounds play, Hayes finds a wide-open Vasquez who drains the 3-pointer from the corner. The senior from Caracas, Venezuela is absolutely on fire out of the gate here in the second half as he now has 10 points in the game.

7:21 p.m. — Vasquez checks back in after a very brief breather, and Milbourne hits the jumper, giving him 14 in the game.

On the other end, Williams picks up his first roul, sending Howell to the line for two shots. The big freshman cannot hit the first but converts the second to make it a 13-point game.

7:18 p.m. — Mosley can only hit 1-of-2 from the line. That’s his third trip to the line tonight in which he’s made the first but come up short on the second.

7:16 p.m. — Mosley with a great head fake and draws the foul on the jumper. We’ve reached the first media timeout of the second half with 15:58 to go in this one. Maryland leads the Wolfpack, 51-38, and Mosley will go to the line for two.

7:14 p.m. — After a relatively quiet first half, Vasquez is really starting to pick it up as he just scored on the runner. He has five points in the first four minutes of the half.

Milbourne picks up the foul inside, sending Smith to the line for two, and the junior hits them both.

Mosley cans the three on the other end, and Maryland is red-hot to begin the half.

7:13 p.m. — Vasquez just picked up his third foul. The senior will have to be careful as we’ve just started the second half.

Following the miss, Vasquez dribbles down court the other way, pulls up, and drills the triple. Maryland’s up by 13 points, and it’s danger time for the Wolfpack.

Wood hits a 3-pointer of his own for NC State, a big shot for Sidney Lowe’s team.

7:11 p.m. — Williams continues to do a fine job guarding Smith as he stood his ground and forced a harmless shot attempt from the Pack’s leading scorer.

Milbourne scores on the other end, and the Maryland lead is up to 10.

7:09 p.m. — State gets the ball to begin the second half, and Gonzalez is way off with the long attempt, barely hitting the rim.

Milbourne is whistled for the travel on the Terps’ first possession of the second half.

7:06 p.m. — Both teams are back on the floor, and we’re moments away from the start of the second half.

Maryland needs to continue to work the ball inside for high-percentage shots. Jordan Williams and Milbourne have been very effective in the paint, as the pair combined for 18 points and eight rebounds in the first half.

6:56 p.m. — The Terps frontcourt—mainly Jordan Williams—has done a fine job guarding Tracy Smith in the paint. The Wolfpack’s leading scorer has only six points at the half.

6:53 p.m. — Be sure to check out the halftime stats right here at WNST.net.

6:52 p.m. — An absolutely silly foul by Degand with 2.3 seconds left. It will give Hayes two shots. He makes them both.

Gonzalez throws up a shot from beyond half-court and it goes in and out. Wow, that was very close.

We’ve reached the end of the first half with Maryland controlling the tempo for most of the way. The Terps lead the Wolfpack at the break, 41-33.

6:50 p.m. — Tracy Smith grabs the offensive board and scores inside for the Pack. Maryland has done a nice job of controlling the glass, but that trip down the court will not make Gary Williams very happy.

Hayes draws the foul with 11.8 seconds to go and goes to the line for 1-and-1. The senior guard drills them both to make it 39-33.

6:49 p.m. — The Terps cannot connect on several opportunities in the paint (sure looked like some contact on Mosley’s second shot), but Milbourne draws the foul and will go to the line for two.

The senior forward hits a pair of freebies to build the lead to seven points as Maryland will press.

Richard Howell gets the ball in the low post and scores inside plus the foul. The foul is on Vasquez, his second of the night. Hayes will come in to prevent Vasquez from picking up a third foul in the final minute of the half.

6:45 p.m. — Gonzalez hits the trey, and suddenly the Wolfpack are within five points of the Terps.NC State is on a modest 5-0 run with 2:07 remaining in the half.

6:43 p.m. — Tucker cannot complete the 3-point play, and Tracy Smith finds room inside and scores for the Pack.

On the next possession, Milbourne cannot hit the 3-ball. You’d love to see the Terps finish the half strong and build a double-digit at the break.

6:41 pm. — Tucker has checked back into the game as Vasquez hits the baseline jumper to grow the lead back to eight. The Terps force the turnover and Milbourne finds the streaking Tucker going to the basket. The reverse layup is good, and the foul! Tucker is having a monster night with nine points already in limited minutes.

Maryland leads by 10 as we’ve reached the final media timeout of the half. The Terps lead NC State, 33-23 with 3:47 remaining.

6:37 p.m. — Vasquez with a gorgeous pass to Milbourne in transition, and the senior forward finishes the lay-in.

A possession later, Williams gets another bucket inside. The Terps continue to get opportunities in the paint and the freshman big man has eight points in the first half.

6:34 p.m. — Mosley goes to the line and connects on the first but can’t hit the second.

Vasquez picks up the foul as he cannot turn around in transition. I’d say Williams just “challenged” Scott Wood’s jumper as it looked like he was trying to shoot at a 6-foot basket.

6:30 p.m. — After a beautiful drive, Hayes has to finish that layup.

Richard Howell hits the jumper with Dino Gregory right in his face.

The Terps push it hard up the floor as Mosley draws the foul inside. We’ve reached the under-8 timeout with Maryland continuing to lead the way, 24-18 with 7:55 remaining in the first half.

6:27 p.m. — Hayes with a nice feed inside to Williams who just checked back into the game. He has been an absolute force in the early stages of this one.

State turns it over again and looks lost in its half-court offense.

6:26 p.m. — State is having SERIOUS difficulty against the Maryland defense as it was unable to create anything out of the half-court set. Unfortunately, Milbourne cannot hit the jumper on the other end.

Following a State bucket, Tucker hits another jumper from the foul line. He has seven points already. This Maryland team is very dangerous if it can get that kind of production out of Tucker off the bench.

6:23 p.m. — The Terps lead NC State, 20-12, at the second media timeout with 11:57 remaining. You have to be happy with the quick start and an opportunity to pull into a first-place tie in the ACC standings.

6:21 p.m. — Tucker gets his hands on an errant pass, leading to a wide-open look for Eric Hayes, and the senior connects! Comcast is on its feet!

Following another Pack turnover, the Terps push it up the floor but turn it over themselves. The Terps are definitely playing with the serious energy I called for going into this one.

6:19 p.m. — Tracy Smith gets on the board for the Wolfpack with Williams helping out defensively on the other side of the court. Milbourne answers on the other end with the jumper.

Following the miss, Tucker hits the 3-ball to put the Terps up, 17-10. The junior continues to show an impressive shot from beyond the arc in recent weeks. Timeout, Sidney Lowe.

6:16 p.m. — John Harbaugh was just introduced during the last timeout to a massive ovation here in College Park. I heard just a few jeers from obvious Redskins fans, but who cares about them?

6:14 p.m. — Cliff Tucker has checked into the game as Gary Williams seems to be more confident in going to the junior guard than he was earlier in the season and in the past. Tucker simply needs to produce when give the opportunities.

We’ve reached our first media timeout of the evening with Maryland and NC State deadlocked at 8-8.

6:13 p.m. — Wood picks up the foul for NC State, sending Mosley to the foul line. The Baltimore native hits 1-of-2 from the charity stripe.

Williams challenges the shot on the other end, forcing an air ball and grabbing another board.

6:10 p.m. — Mosley misses the jumper from the foul line, but Williams pulls down the offensive board and puts it in. The freshman continues to impress and show more aggression.

On the other end, Horner hits the basket to tie it at 5.

Jordan Williams with ANOTHER bucket for the Terps. He’s off to a strong start, and the Comcast crowd loves it.

6:09 p.m. — With the shot clock winding down, Javier Gonzalez forces up a three and it’s an air ball. Thirty-five second violation.

The Terps work the ball up quickly with Jordan Williams unable to finish the layup, but Mosley is there to clean it up plus the foul! The sophomore hits the freebie to complete the 3-point play, and we’re tied.

NC State has trouble getting the ball in-bounds and must use a 30-second timeout.

6:07 p.m. — Maryland comes out playing man-to-man with Jordan Williams drawing the key assignment of guarding Tracy Smith in the paint. Following an offensive rebound for the Wolfpack, Degand hits a triple for the first points of the evening.

Milbourne cannot hit the jump hook in the paint.

6:00 p.m. — Just a reminder to follow Glenn Clark’s updates on Twitter (@WNST) throughout the game.

5:57 p.m. — You can certainly tell the spring semester is about to get underway. After an empty “Wall” on Tuesday night against Longwood (granted, the competition was less than stellar), the students are back in full force for this ACC matchup.

5:54 p.m. — With Virginia trailing by double digits with a minute remaining in Winston-Salem, the Terps can move into a tie for first place with a victory over the Wolfpack this evening.

5:51 p.m. — Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

NC State
G Javier Gonzalez
G Farnold Degand
F Scott Wood
F Tracy Smith
F Dennis Horner

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

5:48 p.m. — Adding to the list of celebrities in attendance tonight, former Maryland Terp and MLB pitcher Eric Milton is here and was just recognized by the university.

5:43 p.m. — Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison are in attendance for tonight’s game. I’m guessing owner Steve Bisciotti had few problems hooking up his coordinators with tickets for this one.

5:40 p.m. — Tonight’s game marks the 145th meeting between the Wolfpack and the Terps with the overall series tied at 72 wins apiece. Maryland has won 15 of the past 20 meetings and the last five in a row.

5:35 p.m. — Maryland has just taken the floor for pre-game warmups sporting the gold uniforms that seemingly became a staple down the stretch last season after the huge overtime win against North Carolina. I cannot say I’m a big fan of the look, but if it brings a win tonight, you’ll hear no complaints from me.

5:30 p.m. — Happy Saturday from the Comcast Center as the Wolfpack of NC State (13-6, 2-3 ACC) come to College Park for a nationally-televised game against the Terrapins (12-5, 2-1 ACC) at 6:00 p.m.

The Terps resume their ACC schedule after what amounted to a glorified scrimmage against Longwood on Tuesday, destroying the Lancers by a score of 106-55 and seeing six players reach double-digit scoring. Maryland currently sits in second place in the conference and would move into a tie with Virginia for first place with a win and a Cavaliers’ loss to Wake Forest this afternoon. The Cavs are getting absolutely pasted in Winston-Salem as I type this, so the Terps simply need to hold up their end of the bargain.

It’s clear the ACC’s picture grows murkier by the week with the massive struggle of North Carolina and Duke currently holding a 3-2 conference record. While Maryland has yet to secure that “wow” victory in the young season, the Terps certainly find themselves in the mix at the quarter pole.

While the Wolfpack was a consensus choice to finish in the bottom third of the ACC entering the season, Sidney Lowe’s squad upset Duke on Wednesday and lost a close 73-70 battle to Clemson last Saturday. Maryland clearly holds the edge on paper and on the sideline with Gary Williams matching up against Lowe, but the Terps have to start fast to prevent NC State from carrying over the good feeling it created against the Blue Devils.

NC State is led by junior forward Tracy Smith who averages 17.2 points per game and 8.6 rebounds while senior forward Dennis Horner (12.9 ppg) provides additional production in the frontcourt. Point guard Javier Gonzalez leads the Wolfpack half-court offense, averaging 4.7 assists per game and shooting 38 percent from 3-point range.

Tonight’s game is nationally-televised on ESPN2 with Mike Patrick and Maryland great Len Elmore providing the call.

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