Three things to watch: Vasquez, turnovers, bench play
In a few hours, Maryland will enter Cassell Coliseum in search of its first ever win at that venue. The Terrapins have won six of their past seven games and are alone in second place in the ACC standings. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, has lost two straight and is in drastic need of a boost for its NCAA tournament resume. Here are a few things to keep track of during this afternoon's contest:
1) Greivis Vasquez. Actually, you should keep track of both Vasquez and Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney, the ACC's top two scorers. Vasquez is averaging 20.7 points per game in conference play, while Delaney is averaging 21.8 points per ACC contest. Vasquez and Delaney might not neccessarily match up against one another on defense, but their respective performances may go a long way toward determining which team comes out on top. Vasquez, by the way, leads the ACC in assists (6.4 per game).
2) Turnovers. Virginia Tech owns the best turnover margin in the ACC in conference play (+3.6) and ranks second in steals (7.6 per game). But Maryland is no slouch on the defensive end, either. The Terrapins possess a +1.8 turnover margin (third in the ACC) and average 6.7 steals per game.
3) Bench play. Of late, Maryland's top reserves have been more solid than they've been as a unit at any other point this season. Dino Gregory finally is rounding into form, providing the Terrapins a strong interior defensive presence. Cliff Tucker has scored at least seven points in five of the last six games. And Adrian Bowie is making his presence felt in one way or another each game, whether that be through a key three-pointer or a pesky defensive stand.
"Coach talks to us all the time about how he needs the bench to come in, and you know, every game the starters, they can't win it every single game," Tucker said. "Every other night, somebody going to have an off game or something like that, so somebody off the bench got to come in there and step it up for them. I think we all just confident. We all know that we might not get the minutes we want, but when we get in there we got to produce. We just want to get in there and perform, and hopefully we do good."
As for the Hokies? Their only consistently productive bench player is junior forward JT Thompson, who is averaging 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in conference play.
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