Maryland knocks off Duke, 79-72
I've heard there are riot police attempting to maintain peace and order in College Park right now, but here inside Comcast Center all is calm. Traces of evidence remain from Maryland's seven-point win Wednesday night over No. 4 Duke -- posterboard and torn up newspaper discarded by the fans who rushed the court at the final buzzer litters the court -- but even more lasting will be the victory's aftereffects.
By Saturday night, Maryland could either share or outright own its first ACC regular season championship since 2002. The Terrapins are in prime position to earn a high seed in the NCAA tournament and, thus, play at a first round site closer to home. Team-wide confidence might be at a season-high -- and that's saying something for a squad that has had a wealth of highlights over the past month.
And all of that was made possible by a win over a Duke squad that many prognosticators had projected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The second half featured nine ties and six lead changes. At first the offensive rhythm that Maryland had generated for most of the first half disappeared, but the Terrapins' defense held firm. By the end of the game, senior guard Greivis Vasquez was leading an efficient Maryland attack once again.
"They didn’t have good looks; we didn’t have good looks, so it was kind of like two rams butting heads there," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said of the start to the second half. "It was just who was going to get the first score to make things go a little easier. We just stayed there."
1) Eric Hayes's quick start. Maryland built a 14-point lead in the first half, and the Terrapins did so with Hayes displaying an assertiveness he seldom has shown during his four years in College Park. Hayes scored nine of his 13 points and tallied all five of his rebounds during the first half. Gary Williams said it was fitting that Hayes was the one senior who managed to calm his nerves and hide his excitement at the outset. With Vasquez and Landon Milbourne struggling early, it was Hayes who buoyed the Terrapins early.
2) Greivis Vasquez's strong finish. Vasquez shot 4 for 7 from the field and scored 13 of his 20 points after halftime. As might have been expected on senior night, Vasquez was a little too amped up at start of Wednesday's game. But after the Terrapins struggled offensively at the beginning of the second half, Vasquez help lead Maryland's surge down the stretch. It should also be noted that junior guard Adrian Bowie came off the bench and provided a huge lift for the Terrapins during the early part of the second half. Gary Williams credited Bowie, who finished with nine points on 4 of 4 shooting with keeping the Terrapins within striking range while the team worked through some offensive struggles right after the intermission.
3) Jordan Williams. The freshman forward from Torrington, Conn. now has recorded six double-doubles this season. He tallied 15 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday night against Duke and was the main reason why Maryland was able to claim the rebounding edge, 36-35. Duke center Brian Zoubek got his share of rebounds -- 13 -- but Williams defended much better against Zoubek Wednesday than he did a few weeks ago in Durham. Zoubek scored just four points Wednesday.
1) Defending Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer. There are reasons why Scheyer is one of the top candidates for ACC player of the year and why Smith widely is considered the most improved player on Duke's roster this season. Many of those reasons were on display in the second half Wednesday night, as the Terrapins struggled to contain the Blue Devils' backcourt duo. Smith and Scheyer combined to score 24 of Duke's 34 points after the intermission. Smith finished with 20 points, while Scheyer finished with 19.
2) Attacking the zone D. Late in the first half, Duke switched to a zone defense and, according to Eric Hayes, that initially hindered Maryland's offensive production. The Terrapins slowed down and were not as active on the offensive end. But Maryland was persistent, as it has been all season, and eventually made the adjustments necessary to work its way out of its funk as the second half progressed.
3) Landon Milbourne. The senior forward tallied five points and zero rebounds. He played just five minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls. Gary Williams acknowledged Milbourne's recent struggles in his postgame press conference, but said he expects Milbourne to pick up his play in the postseason. If this is how the Terrapins can play when Milbourne is not firing on all cylinders, imagine how good they could be if Milbourne does, indeed, come around.
March 4, 2010; 1:08 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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