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Ignition Point Hurts Terps

There were several points last night when it seemed Maryland was poised to attack, to finally close the narrow gap Clemson had created early on and assume at least a small measure of control over the game. It was astonishing, if only because Maryland performed so erratically on offense. But for quite a while, the Terps were able to hang around, constantly nipping at the Tigers' heels.

And then, seemingly in one instant, all of Maryland's morale vanished. Two and a half minutes into the second half, Clemson led by five when Tigers guard Terrence Oglesby missed a three-point attempt from the corner. That wasn't much of a surprise; he shot 2 of 10 from beyond the arc on the night.

The electric moment came after the ball clanked off the rim. Clemson forward Trevor Booker corralled the ball with the palm of his hand and whipped it back through the net. It was straight out of a scene from Space Jam (anyone remember that flick?) when one of the Mon-Stars leapt 30 feet above the rim and thrust the ball down with earth-quaking force.

Booker's dunk was not nearly as cartoonishly fantastic, but it sure lit up an already-raucous crowd. That was the moment, according to Clemson Coach Oliver Purnell, that "ignited us, kind of gave us a little bit of a jolt and maybe deflated (Maryland) a little bit."

Starting with that play, Clemson went on a 25-8 run that spanned seven minutes.

Gary Williams was asked whether one play could have such a dramatic effect on the course of a game.

"It can, especially when you're playing at home," Williams said. "It can get the crowd going, but you can't let it if you're the other team. You have to look at it as two points or whatever it is. The crowd's going to go crazy and that's fine. But you have to go down and run a good play and score, and we didn't do that on several possessions there."

Purnell has come to expect such plays from Booker, who has emerged this season as one of Clemson's go-to performers.

"If teams decide to take him away and double him every time, he might not get a lot of shots, but then he's got to go get it on the glass like he did there in a spectacular fashion, which ignited our team," Purnell said. "He has the ability to do that. You need your really good players to step up and make plays to excite you and get you on runs and make stops at big times or opportune times or crucial times, and he's done that a lot for us this year."

By Steve Yanda  |  February 18, 2009; 1:24 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Solid First Half For Neal


I think if you watched the tape with the sound off, you'd see a couple different moments which could have served as 'ignition points' for Maryland if the Terps had been able to capitalize. Actually, that's pretty much true for any game.

But really, I do think that even though Maryland matches up pretty well with them (certainly better than we do with UNC or Wake), Clemson is a better team this year. And in their house, that's going to prevail nine and a half times out of ten.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 18, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

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