Maryland defeats Georgia Tech, 76-74, on Tucker's buzzer-beater
Win No. 19 for the Maryland men's basketball team came in a much different fashion than any of the preceding 18 had this season. All those blowouts Maryland fans had witnessed their Terrapins conduct against ACC foes at Comcast Center were nice and all, but they lacked the excitement of a close game, the thrill of a final minute in which the outcome hadn't already been determined.
Today, a sold-out home crowd finally experienced a contest's conclusion that proved maddening and then suddenly euphoric. Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors scores a putback with two seconds left to put the Yellow Jackets up by one. Greivis Vasquez launches a shot from just past half-court that banks in with 0.9 of a second remaining to seemingly secured an improbable Maryland win.
But those points were waived off after officials ruled Maryland assistant Keith Booth had called for a timeout before Vasquez took his shot. So Terrapins Coach Gary Williams drew up a for Cliff Tucker -- yes that's right, the play was designed to go to Tucker all along -- and Tucker proceded to score a three-pointer from the wing as time expired.
Maryland 76, Georgia Tech 74.
"Cliff hit that big shot, because everybody was kind of like sagging, trying to not let me catch the ball," Vasquez said. "And, you know, Cliff stepped up. That’s what this team is all about – guys stepping up. What a great game."
1) Cliff Tucker. The junior guard logged just nine minutes Saturday, and yet ended up being the deciding factor in a much-needed quality win for the Terrapins. Tucker has been knocked during his Maryland career for being inconsistent, for having poor practice habits, for publicly voicing frustration over his lack of playing time. And to his credit, Tucker has owned up to all of the above transgressions. For him to be the one to hit the game-winning shot today was somewhat remarkable, not because Tucker does not possess the type of talent necessary to hit such a shot, but because of the path his career has taken to get here.
2) Greivis Vasquez. The senior guard finished with 18 points, eight assists and five rebounds. He became the sixth player in Maryland history to record 2,000 career points and the first player in ACC history to register at least 2,000 points, 700 assists and 600 rebounds in his career. Not too shabby.
3) Jordan Williams. For a freshman, this guy sure is consistent. Williams finished with nine points and 12 rebounds, and his grittiness was emblematic of the fashion in which Maryland won today's game. An example: With just more than three minutes to go, Williams dove across the floor for a loose ball and secured a jump ball after wrestling for it with a Georgia Tech player. The Terrapins were hampered in the second half by Georgia Tech's ability to grab offensive rebounds and score on second chance opportunities. Maryland could not afford for Georgia Tech to get many more such chances, and Williams's effort prevent the Yellow Jackets from claiming yet another offensive board.
1) Perimeter defense. Georgia Tech shot 46.7 percent (7 for 15) from three-point range. Granted, Maryland had to devote much of its defensive focus to trying to contain freshman forward Derrick Favors, who finished with 21 points and 18 rebounds. The Terrapins also had to keep track of junior forward Gani Lawal, who tallied 12 points and five rebounds. Still, Maryland has dealt with talented opposing frontcourts before this season and managed to defend capably along the perimeter. Today, they struggled in that regard.
2) Second chance points. Specifically on the offensive glass in the second half, Maryland simply could not keep up. Gary Williams said part of that was due to the wear and tear his players had accumulated over the past eight days, during which they've played four games. Georgia Tech claimed a 45-38 edge on the boards, including a 21-14 advantage on the offensive glass. The Yellow Jackets outscored Maryland in second chance points, 24-12.
3) First-half shooting. Maryland shot 37.1 percent from the field in the first half, which was more shocking than anything else. The Terrapins have been absolutely demolishing ACC opponents at home, and typically, fast starts at Comcast Center haven't been hard to come by of late. But Georgia Tech did well at the outset to contain Maryland's shooters. The Terrapins responded in the second half by shooting 50.0 percent from the field. So it turned out the homecourt shooting magic wasn't completely lost.
February 20, 2010; 6:07 PM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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