Coming off a blow out loss to Clemson, Maryland came in looking at the second loss of a potential three game losing streak playing Carolina Saturday afternoon. With Duke coming on Wednesday, everyone looked at Clemson, Carolina and Duke as a three game losing streak. Maryland though, did the un-imaginable by beating a team that scored 107 points on them a few weeks ago in overtime fashion. The Terps didn’t run like a well-oiled machine, but when needed, the right people stepped up and made the plays that took the Terps over the top.
Picture from ESPN.com
As I said last week, Maryland needed a win against a ranked team to get their names back on the bubble. Much to my surprise, I never thought they would do it against North Carolina. Carolina is a good team with scorers at every starting position. Last game against the Tarheels, Maryland couldn’t defend the three and were beat by Ellington hitting what seemed like a dozen threes. This time it was Tucker that was on fire from beyond the arc, going 5 – 7 ending with 22 points. The bigger story, Tucker wasn’t the only hero on Saturday, Greivis Vasquez had a career day against the Heels at a time when the Terps needed it. A time when they desperately needed it! Greivis had Maryland’s third triple-double in school history ending with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He did have 7 turnovers to go with that great effort, but in the end, it was Vasquez’s will to shoot that led Maryland to a win. Greivis, from the start, was willing to lead the Terps as he hit 7 of 11, scoring the Terps first 16 points. He also had 8 of the 12 points the Terps scored in overtime.
Again, this was is the tale of two teams. Maryland did not have a great stat line in the first half shooting 32 percent from the field, 10 turnovers and 2 of 2 from the line. During an 8 minute stretch, Maryland missed 9 shots, had 6 turnovers and had their only free throws of the first half. They missed nine shots and to only be down by 9 at half-time says something about their defense. Maryland continually forced the Heels into ill-advised shots and had the Heels play an unusual style of basketball. Holding Carolina’s star player, Tyler Hansbrough, to 6 points caused the Heels to look for other ways to score. They didn’t make the extra pass as they normally would that produces easy points in the paint. Ty Lawson, a threat to any team including his own, looked as if he was trying to play one-on-one with Vasquez instead of making those fancy passes while driving down the lane. Don’t get me wrong, this could have easily been over with the Terps missing their shots and giving Carolina the amount of opportunities they had. A 9 point deficit could’ve been a 25 point deficit, but when the Tarheels average 91 points a game, 39 could be considered a defensive statement by the Terps.
The second half was a different story. Maryland went 16 of 26 from the field and 7 of 12 from beyond the arc. It was almost as if they couldn’t miss a shot and very similar to their first meeting with the Tarheels earlier this year where they shot 48 percent from the field. Their defense still held Hansbrough to 5 points and took Deon Thompson out of the game (4-6, 11pts. In the first half) causing Lawson to carry the Heels. Maryland drove down the lane causing the Heels to pick up fouls which opened up the three for Vasquez, Tucker and Hayes. Those three could be dangerous if they practiced on getting more open shots on the perimeter. Maryland could potentially hit close to 10 threes a game if they ran more open plays on the outside. Maryland had heart in the second half. They had strong support from their bench – Hayes and Tucker mostly – and took Carolina out of their game completely.
As the Terps move forward to Duke on Wednesday, Maryland needs to put this win behind them. It’s a great win for this team considering the year they’ve had, but Duke doesn’t care and after beating the Terps by 41 in their first meeting, they’ll look for the same easy success. Maryland will need to bring their “A” game and that means, driving the lane, hitting key three pointers and matching rebound-for-rebound against Duke. They’ll need to play good defense and cause Duke to foul early and often, something hard to do when Duke has the ref’s on their payroll. The Terps will have to control the tempo of the game and set their offense. They’re going to need big contributions from Burney and Gregory, two kids providing good minutes recently. There are a lot of needs moving into Wednesday and fulfilling any of them may provide a shot at beating Duke. Beating Duke will have the Terps on the inside of the bubble looking out so lets play one game at a time and get this win for Gary.