Turnover fest at Littlejohn as Terps fall 62-53 to Clemson

January 31, 2010 | Luke Jones

Winning on the road is a daunting task in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Turning it over 26 times and losing the battle on the glass makes it nearly impossible.

Despite struggling to control the basketball, Maryland had its opportunities and even led briefly in the second half before being outscored 12-3 over the last 5:36 of the game and falling 62-53 to Clemson in an ugly contest on Sunday night.

Jordan Williams was the lone bright spot for the Terps as the freshman forward led the way with 13 points and 13 rebounds while the rest of the team struggled to make shots for most of the evening. As well as the half-court offense had played in recent weeks, the Terps struggled to create high-percentage shots against the stingy Clemson defense and shot 34.6 percent from the field in the loss, finishing with more turnovers than field goals (26 to 18).

Battling foul trouble in the first half, Greivis Vasquez never got on track, scoring just 10 points and turning it over nine times in one of his worst performances of the season. Landon Milbourne shot just 1-for-8 from the field and finished with three points while fellow senior Eric Hayes had 11 points to lead the three seniors in scoring. It was simply not enough production from the three senior captains.

While Sunday night’s game was far from a must-win for the Terrapins (14-6, 4-2 ACC), it was a winnable game as the Tigers (16-6, 4-4) shot 31.9 percent from the field and turned it over 21 times themselves. Clemson’s leading scorer Trevor Booker shot 2-for-16—and did not have a field goal in the first half—but grabbed seven offensive boards and 16 overall for the Tigers.

With Booker struggling offensively, Clemson got a dominating effort from Jerai Grant, who scored a season-high 18 points to help the Tigers snap a three-game losing streak.

So many things have gone well for the Terps since the start of conference play, but the lack of focus—particularly in the first half—is concerning after having an opportunity to beat a quality opponent on the road, a fact critics have used to downplay the Terps’ quick start in the ACC.

While it was clear Maryland would not continue to shoot the ball as well as it had in recent weeks, the number of turnovers is alarming after averaging only 11.6 turnovers per game in the first 19 games of the season. In their two conference losses to Wake Forest and Clemson, Maryland has turned it over 41 times (20.5 per game). In their four conference wins, the Terps have just 41 miscues (10.25 per game). Not shooting well is one thing, but not taking care of the basketball will almost always cost you games.

Maryland will have its chance to atone for Sunday’s disappointing performance in Tallahassee against Florida State on Thursday night. A 1-1 road trip would be more than acceptable before returning to College Park to take on North Carolina on Sunday afternoon.

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

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7:46 p.m. — That will wrap this one up. Maryland falls to Clemson, 62-53. The Terps were outscored 12-3 down the stretch in this one.

Back in a bit with my post-game thoughts.

7:44 p.m. — The Terps just haven’t made enough plays in this one.

And that’s why they’re about to fall to the Tigers with 15.1 seconds left.

7:42 p.m. — That’s a perfect example of why Bowie’s minutes have plummeted. He brings very little to the offensive end of the floor.

7:40 p.m. — Terrible call on the offensive foul by Vasquez. Completely inadvertent.

7:35 p.m. — Of course Booker hits the three in a big spot. It’s only his second field goal of the night.

With 2:22 remaining, Clemson leads the Terps, 57-53.

7:31 p.m. — Vasquez with a great look to Mosley, but the sophomore cannot handle it and turns it over. That will make 24 turnovers for the Terps.

Following a Clemson miss, the Terps pick up their 25th. Incredible.

7:25 p.m. — Following the media timeout, Vasquez cannot score going to the basket, and Williams misses a couple second-chance shots.

Clemson is desperate for a bucket, and Bowie comes to double-team Booker and rejects the shot from behind.

7:22 p.m. — Grant just annihilated that Milbourne shot.

However, Hayes scores inside, and the Terps amazingly have the lead, 48-46.

7:20 p.m. — Booker is just having a HORRIBLE night for the Tigers.

Vasquez is fouled going to the basket and goes to the line for two. He misses the first, but his second free throw ties the game at 46.

7:17 p.m. — It sure looked like Hayes could have taken the layup himself, but the end result works out as Milbourne gets the offensive board of the miss and puts it in plus the foul. The free throw cuts the Clemson lead to one.

Oliver Purnell wants to talk it over with his Tigers.

7:14 p.m. — Vasquez just loses it out of bounds. That makes 22 turnovers on the night for the Terps. Wow, just wow.

How is this team only down by five points?

7:12 p.m. — Two Mosley free throws cuts the lead to one, but Grant slams it in on the other end as Gregory draws the blocking foul.

After the miss, Mosley tries to push it but is called for the player-control foul. That’s his fourth. Not good.

7:10 p.m. — A 12-4 run for the Terps has them right back in this one after falling behind by 11 points early in the second half.

We have a bit of a delay as the officiating crew wants to make sure the shot clock has been set correctly.

7:07 p.m. — We’ve reached the under-12 media timeout with Clemson continuing to hold on to a 42-39 lead. Such an ugly performance for the Terps, but they’re right in this one.

7:05 p.m. — Big jumper by Gregory there. The Terps needed that one badly.

The Tigers then turn it over leading to another bucket for Gregory on a nice delivery from Vasquez.

We’ve reached the under-12 timeout, Clemson leads 42-39.

7:03 p.m. — You have to hope Williams is alright. This team is so much better with him on the floor.

Milbourne still unable to find the bucket. Just a miserable night for the senior forward.

7:02 p.m. — Following another Tigers turnover, Vasquez dribbles it off his foot and picks up his third foul. He’ll have to go to the bench for now.

Bowie misses a layup, and Milbourne is whistled for the foul. A terrible call, and Gary is not a happy camper.

6:57 p.m. — Mosley takes it away, leading to a fast-break opportunity and a foul on Jordan Williams to send the big man to the line. Williams hits both freebies to give him 12 points on the night.

Vasquez with the steal and the layup. Maryland has suddenly cut it to five points.

6:54 p.m. — Grant hits the freebie to complete the three-point play.

Then Gregory throws it in-bounds and it’s another turnover.

The only good news I can report at this point in the second half is the pizza that I order finally came and is delicious.

6:51 p.m. — Grant scores and is fouled after ANOTHER Maryland turnover.

There’s no excuse for this performance tonight. Pathetic.

6:49 p.m. — Clemson is shooting just 30 percent and leads by seven points. How is that possible?

6:47 p.m. — We’ve reached the first media timeout of the second half with Maryland continuing to trail Clemson, 34-27.

The Terps have to wake up at some point, don’t they?

6:46 p.m. — Despite rumors to the contrary, Landon Milbourne is in the arena tonight and playing.

He has not scored yet in this one.

6:44 p.m. — Following the Mosley foul, Grant goes to the line for two and drains 1-of-2. He has nine points and nine rebounds.

He’s been huge for the Tigers.

Maryland continues to turn it over. Fourteen turnovers. Unbelievable.

6:41 p.m. — Vasquez hits the 3-ball to begin the second half. That’s a good sign as the Terps did not have a 3-pointer in the first half of play.

6:40 p.m. — We’re ready for the start of the second half. Clemson will get the ball.

6:37 p.m. — While watching that last commercial, am I the only one that thought Gary Williams was going to answer the question “What’s great about ACC basketball?” with the answer, “The fact that I can coach circles around most of you guys.”

6:36 p.m. — Who could have predicted Vasquez and Booker would combine for three points in the first half? I guess that’s why they play the games, right?

6:25 p.m. — All I can say about that first half is thank goodness for Jordan Williams. The freshman leads the Terps with 10 points at the half.

Maryland trails Clemson at the break, 29-22. The Terps shooting only 37 percent and have turned it over 12 times.

6:22 p.m. — How does Milbourne miss that shot? Playing defense against himself there.

Just an awful first half from everyone except Jordan Williams.

Thankfully, Booker is not contributing anything points-wise.

6:19 p.m. — If you had told me the Terps would hold Trevor Booker to just one point in the first 18 minutes of the game, I would have said the Terps led by 15 points at the break.

Shows how much I know.

6:18 p.m. — A beautiful look from Hayes to Jordan Williams for the dunk. Finally we see some kind of semblance of a half-court set.

However, the Tigers beat the Terps down the court in transition.

6:16 p.m. — Eleven turnovers and eight field goals for the Terrapins.

This looks more like a Big Ten score than a key ACC match-up.

6:13 p.m. — Nice look by Vasquez to find Williams. The big man is the only one doing anything at all for the Terps.

We’ve reached the final media timeout of the first half with Maryland trailing Clemson, 23-18.

6:12 p.m. — Devin Booker’s bucket gives the Tigers a seven-point lead. Maryland continues to settle for perimeter shots. The Terps have no solution for the tight Clemson defense.

6:09 p.m. — Nine turnovers for the Terps. Good move by Gary Williams to sit down his senior point guard. He’s playing out of control out there.

Not sure why Hayes is taking shots so far away from the basket early in the shot clock. He’s a great shooter, no doubt, but those are LONG attempts.

6:06 p.m. — We’ve reached the under-8 media timeout with Maryland trailing the Tigers, 21-16. The Terps continue to struggle to find any offensive rhythm. Thankfully, the Tigers are not hitting any shots either.

6:04 p.m. — The Terps are not doing a good job taking care of the basketball and are struggling to control the glass.

This is downright ugly basketball for both sides.

6:02 p.m. — You’d like to see Vasquez on the bench for a bit longer, but Bowie’s complete ineffectiveness makes it a necessity to bring the senior back.

Vasquez scores in transition to tie the game.

The Terps are getting absolutely nothing from the bench in this one as Bowie and Dino Gregory have both struggled.

Luckily, the Tigers continue to miss very makable shots.

5:57 p.m. — We’re witnessing some ugly offense right now as both teams are playing very impatiently.

That’s two plays from Adrian Bowie in which he’s taken the ball without any real idea what he was trying to do. We’ve seen far too much of that from him this season.

We’ve reached the second media timeout with Clemson leading the Terps, 16-14.

5:54 p.m. — Very nice recovery by Hayes on that layup. Incredibly, the Terps are on an 8-0 run since Vasquez left the game. Clemson has certainly gone cold since the beginning of this one.

The Terps continue to use a guard to double-team Booker, but it just left Potter wide open for a 3-pointer.

5:52 p.m. — Clemson just turned it over for the fourth time. It’s nice to see the Terps weather the early storm by the Tigers. However, they need someone other than Williams to step up with Vasquez stuck on the bench.

5:49 p.m. — We’ve reached our first media timeout with Clemson leading the Terps, 13-10. Maryland has weathered a furious start by the Tigers, but Vasquez is stuck on the bench with two early fouls.

5:47 p.m. — Williams sinks both free throws to cut the deficit to five. He then draws the offensive foul on Bryan Narcisse. You cannot say enough about the freshman big man. He’s been huge this year.

And as I type that, he hits the baseline jumper to give him six for the game. We haven’t seen him step out very often, but that shot looked very good.

5:45 p.m. — Milbourne’s jumper from the foul line is erased, leading to a second Vasquez foul on the other end. This one couldn’t have started much worse for the Terps.

Smith misses both free throws, thankfully, but the Terps need to start making some shots and getting some stops defensively.

5:43 p.m. — Vasquez is whistled for the offensive foul. Not much to argue with on that one.

Clemson beats the Maryland pressure again leading to a dunk for Grant. He has five points already. Then, the Terps turn it over leading to a 3-ball by Young.

Timeout, Maryland. The Tigers are out to a huge start and lead 13-4. Yikes.

5:41 p.m. — This game has started with a furious pace as both teams have gotten two quick baskets. Young finally misses a 3-pointer for the Tigers, but Jordan Williams cannot hit the jumper outside of the paint.

Booker takes a 3-pointer and misses. I’m sure the Terps will give him that shot all day.

5:37 p.m. — Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

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

Clemson
G Andre Young
G Tanner Smith
F David Potter
F Jerai Grant
F Trevor Booker

5:25 p.m. — Following up on my last update on Demontez Stitt, it appears the junior will not play as he was seen walking out of the tunnel in a polo and shorts. Definitely a blow to the Tigers this evening, but not unexpected.

5:10 p.m. — According to Patrick Stevens (D1scourse), a friend of the Comcast Morning Show, Stitt is dressed for the game and warming up. This does not mean the Tigers guard will play, but it is certainly a more encouraging sign for Clemson than what was reported yesterday about its second-leading scorer.

5:00 p.m. — Greetings from the Jones home office as we prepare to watch the red-hot Terrapins (14-5, 4-1 ACC) travel to Littlejohn Coliseum to take on the struggling Clemson Tigers (15-6, 3-4 ACC).

Maryland is on fire after back-to-back victories of 20-plus points against NC State and Miami and four in a row overall. January has been an outstanding month for the Terps as they were one 3-pointer away at Wake Forest from an undefeated record. They’ll try to improve their January record to 7-1 with a road victory tonight.

At least four Terps players have scored in double digits in the last three games as coach Gary Williams continues to get a balanced attack offensively. In Maryland’s most recent win against Miami on Tuesday night, Greivis Vasquez and Landon Milbourne led the way with 16 points each.

Maryland continues to lead the ACC with a conference-best 4-1 record, but the Terps have benefited from a favorable early part of the conference schedule in which they’ve played three of the first five at Comcast Center. Three of their four conference wins come against the three worst teams in the ACC standings (Boston College, Miami, and NC State). A victory against Clemson would not only provide a win against a top-25 team, but it would also build confidence that the Terps can win a road game against a tough opponent.

On the flip side, Oliver Purnell’s squad is desperate for a victory to snap a three-game losing streak. After jumping out to a 3-1 conference record, the Tigers have dropped successive games to Georgia Tech, Duke, and most recently at Boston College on Tuesday night. Clemson’s second-leading scorer Demontez Stitt has been sidelined with a sprained foot, and it appears the guard will not play again this evening.

Clemson is led by forward Trevor Booker who leads the Tigers with 16.0 points per game and grabs 8.2 rebounds per game. Maryland will likely use a combination of Milbourne, Jordan Williams, and Dino Gregory to keep all of the forwards fresh and out of foul trouble against the 6-foot-7 senior.

Much like the Terps, Purnell’s squad likes to press, so it will be an interesting match-up to see which squad can get the best of the other defensively.

Tonight’s nationally-televised game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet locally and on Fox Sports Net nationally at 5:30 p.m. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for our thoughts and updates throughout the evening.

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