What Tucker's shot does for him, the Terps going forward
Let's begin with the obvious: junior guard Cliff Tucker's three-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining Saturday afternoon provided Maryland a win over Georgia Tech, extended Maryland's home record in ACC play this season to 6-0 and brought Maryland one step closer to all but securing an NCAA tournament bid.
Saturday's game marked the first of four straight contests* in which Maryland will face teams that rank in top 50 in RPI, which means the Terrapins will have several more chances to earn quality wins before the regular season is done. The Yellow Jackets are ranked No. 32 in the RPI standings, according to Jerry Palm at collegerpi.com. Yesterday's win over Georgia Tech gives Maryland three wins over teams with top 50 RPIs this season (Florida State, who the Terrapins have defeated twice, is ranked No. 40 in the RPI).
* The RPI rankings of Maryland's next three opponents: Clemson (No. 34), Virginia Tech (No. 44) and Duke (No. 3).
On an individual level, the Terrapins hope Tucker's shot will go a long way toward boosting his confidence. That word always seems to come up when discussing Tucker's game. Did he have confidence on that given day or not? Tucker said he's trying to work on improving his confidence, on making that a more stable component of his game. But he also admitted to being frustrated throught a first half Saturday when he played just three minutes. Tucker said Maryland assistants Rob Ehsan and Keith Booth implored him not to let that frustration mount, as he has in the past.
Tucker finished with eight points in nine minutes. On the season, Tucker is averaging 5.9 points in 15.3 minutes per game.
"It does wonders for a player to make a shot like that, but hopefully for Cliff down the stretch now he's a very confident player," Coach Gary Williams said. "That's what you want from the shot. And for our team to know -- we've got good guys. They're experienced basketball players. They understand how that works. That could have been Georgia Tech's game obviously, just like we got it, so we feel very fortunate. But at the same time, you need some breaks at times during the year. We got one there. But we played well enough to be in a position to get that break."
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