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Terps Crush Delaware State, 86-58

It was a bad omen for the visiting Hornets when on their first inbound play, the player receiving the ball slipped, had the ball bounce off his hands and then watched it roll out of bounds for his team's first turnover of the night. The game was 27 seconds old. It would not get much better for Delware State the rest of the night.

In my game story, I focussed more on the players to whom this game meant the most, guys like Cliff Tucker, Sean Mosley and Dino Gregory. They're the players who are vying for more playing time. And tonight the received extended opportunities to show Gary Williams what they could do. Landon Milbourne led the Terps with 23 points. Greivis Vasquez recorded 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists (to just one turnover). Eric Hayes and Adrian Bowie scored 12 points each. But you've seen and heard all that before. And while this game certainly helped their confidence, it did much more for the guys coming off the bench who got to prove themselves and their abilities.

Three Up

1) Cliff Tucker. The guy had not been playing well of late, and his playing time had diminished greatly as a result. He went from starting to playing less than 10 minutes a game. But tonight, the Cliff Tucker of a month ago returned to College Park. He scored seven points, tallied six assists and grabbed five rebounds. His energy was up. His passing was precise. And as a result, his confidence soared.

"I thought Cliff Tucker stepped it up a little bit tonight," Williams said. "He was very active; he made some things happen. That’s the type of player that Cliff has to be for us, so that was good to see. Cliff is working his way back."

2) Assist-to-turnover ratio. Maryland recorded 23 assists to just 11 turnovers against the Hornets. Granted, Delaware State was not a very good team, but they continued to press and give relentless effort on defense throughout the second half. Dave Neal had four assists and no turnovers. Vasquez had seven assists and just one turnover. Adrian Bowie had four assists and no turnovers. And Tucker had just one turnover to go along with his six assists. Eric Hayes seemed to have a rough night handling the ball (zero assists, four turnovers), but it didn't hurt the Terps on this particular occassion.

3) Rebounding. Again, this came against a sub-par opponent, but Delaware State had some decent-sized bodies in the post, so it wasn't as if the Terps had a walk in the park. Maryland won the rebounding battle, 41-30, which is a good sign for a team that needs all the re-inforced confidence it can get in the post.

Three Down

1) Three-point shooting. It's a good thing the Terps weren't playing from behind because they wouldn't have made any quick gains from the three-point line. Maryland shot 30.0 percent (6-for-20) from beyond the arc. And five of those six makes came from Vasquez and Hayes. With the scoring emphasis being placed at the feet of this team's guards this season, that percentage will be unacceptable (and potentially disastrous) if posted in any game after New Year's.

2) Braxton Dupree. Williams finally pulled Dupree out of the proverbial dog house and gave him a chance to earn back some credibility tonight. Dupree responded with a final line of one rebound, one steal, one missed shot and one personal foul in 11 minutes. Against Delaware State.

3) Taking timeouts with 15.4 seconds remaining in the first half and your team up by 21 points. Seriously, Coach? Was that really necessary? The ironic part was that Williams's ploy didn't even pay off. Tucker turned the ball over and Delaware State got a breakaway lay-up as time expired.

By Steve Yanda  |  December 12, 2008; 10:59 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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