In a game where both teams played lower than expectations, Clemson pulled out the victory over Maryland 62-53. Maryland falls to 14-6 overall and 4-2 in-conference while Clemson improves to 16-6 and 4-4 in the ACC.
Overall, this was a game where someone ultimately had to win. Neither team got their gameplan going and had real troubles on offense. Clemson was having much trouble finishing shots down low while Maryland had terrible trouble against the Clemson aggressive defense.
One key for Maryland during this game was the fact that when the playmakers were not successful, they did not have any other options. Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Sean Mosley combined for 7-of-27 for 21 points, 10 of them from Vasquez. Worse for the Terps, the bench was terrible tonight, not shooting well or playing good defense. This has been Maryland’s problem: they are not a very deep team. The Terps can only go eight deep, the starters plus Cliff Tucker, Adrian Bowie and Dino Gregory, and with those eight they only have two bruising frontcourt players and two legitimate three-point threats. The offensive system is very fragile and when all of its parts are not working, the team is vulnerable. What kept Maryland in the game was Jordan Williams’s rebounding plus making free throws in the second half, but the shots were not connecting at all.
Which gets to the frontcourt woes again. Jordan Williams was far and away the MVP for Maryland, getting a double-double plus defending against a seasoned Trevor Booker very well. He has looked great in conference games and without him it is hard to tell where Maryland would be. But beyond Williams, Maryland does not have a threat in either end of the paint. Dino Gregory is not playing his position well and was not going for rebounds well against the Clemson frontcourt. And Gary Williams clearly does not believe James Padgett can play against the ACC; had Coach Williams felt Padgett could play he surely would have played him during the contest to sub in for a struggling Dino Gregory. One of Clemson’s keys tonight was the fact they had 20 offensive rebounds, and Maryland’s defense though playing well could not hope to contain Clemson’s shooting forever.
When Maryland looks back at this game, they are going to be very disappointed at themselves. Holding Clemson down to 62 points on the road with Trevor Booker being a near non-factor is a great achievement, but silly turnovers and bad shooting cost them a chance. It is very hard to win on the road, and the Terps knew they could have had it. Maryland hits the road to take on Florida State on Thursday. Maybe it is not a must win, but the Terps still have not taken on Duke, Virginia or Georgia Tech, so they need to rack up some ACC wins before the brunt of the schedule nears.