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Terps Win Big Again, 76-50

It's not without caution that I type this given the fact Maryland just beat another opponent by a wide margin, but does any other team make winning by 26 points look as ugly as these Terps?

For most of the night, rhythm was a concept foreign to the two teams playing at Comcast Center. Elon was bad. Really, really bad. And yet, with 15 minutes to go, the Phoenix trailed by just seven points. When backed into a corner, though, the Terps turned to what they do best -- cranking up the tempo and leaving their opponent in the figurative dust.

"We still have to work on our offense," Landon Milbourne said. "We still have to find ways to score inside and things of that nature, but for the most part we are moving the ball pretty well. The defensive intensity just has to stay up for 40 minutes. We can’t have any lapses."

Three Up:

1) Second-half spurts. As previously mentioned, Maryland led a team that shot a putrid 29.3 percent from the field by only seven points with 15 minutes to play. Then a Greivis Vasquez block turned into a Sean Mosley-led transition, which was capped by a Dave Neal three-pointer. The Terps went on a 21-2 run that pushed its lead beyond reach. Greivis Vasquez scored 10 of his 17 points during that six-minute stretch. It was the most cohesive the team played all night.

2) Dave Neal on the boards. Neal scored nine points, which was nice, I suppose. But the team might be okay with him missing all his shots if he continues to rebound like he did Tuesday night. He finished with a career-high 10 rebounds. As a team, Maryland out-rebounded Elon, 45-35. After a horrid performance on the boards Saturday against Bryant, Gary Williams called out his players, saying the team needed a breakout rebounding performance from someone. Neal was that someone tonight. Whether he can stay that someone remains to be seen.

3) Late-game dunk contests. With the game well out of reach in the final minutes, several Terps got to show off their rim-rattling skills. Freshman forward Jin Soo Kim was first, turning a breakaway into a two-handed slam. A few minutes later, sophomore forward Braxton Dupree took his turn, slowing to a near-halt before rising up and pumping the ball through the net. Dupree, by the way, played 18 minutes, finishing with four points, six rebounds and two steals.

Three Down:

1) Those daunting lay-ups. It seems like a given. Every time a Maryland player glided toward the basket, everyone in the building expected him to finish with an easy two points. At least, everyone did at the start of the game. As the contest wore on and the Terps proved that lay-ups aren't as easy as they appear, audience members began holding their breath when a Maryland player was en route to the hole and then erupting in euphoria on the occasions a short shot happened to fall. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But not by much.

"We were just missing a lot of easy shots early; pretty much the whole game we were missing easy shots in the paint," junior guard Eric Hayes said. "We just need to start finishing those."

2) Reliance on transition offense. The Terps' effectiveness in creating turnovers and dashing up the court is turning into a double-edged sword. They operate at a very high level when in transition most of the time. And for the past few games they've been able to build large leads doing just that. But tonight served as another example that the half-court offense needs some tuning, sooner rather than later. Maryland did not grow comfortable in its half-court sets against Elon until after its second-half surge, which was fully generated by defensive pressure and quick offensive strikes. That's fine for now. Once ACC play starts ...

3) Steve Goins's lower left leg (again). Just to be clear, Goins is not on this list because he is doing something wrong. He cannot help the fact that his lower left leg is not cooperating and, in fact, is confounding the team's medical staff. Goins said after the game that the results of the second MRI exam were the same as the first, and by that he meant the results provided little clarity to his injury situation. It's not a break. It's not a fracture. That's all he and the team know at this point. After participating in yesterday's workout, Goins said the trainers told him to take a week off. He said he was frustrated that the problem has yet to be diagnosed, but "we'll just see what happens."

By Steve Yanda  |  December 30, 2008; 11:20 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: What To Make Of These Games?

Comments

Steve,

You forgot to mention the game highlight. Jin Soo Kim dunking on a breakaway generating by far the loudest applause of the night followed by a timeout and a standing ovation.

The guy is a mystery.

Posted by: JDP_ | December 31, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

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