Maryland rarely finds itself losing at home in the ACC in the second half - in fact, five days ago, it hadn't happened all year. Against Clemson, though, they found themselves in that situation for the second game in a row. And just like they did the first time, they came back and won.
The Terps trailed by as much as 15 in the first half, mainly due to eight first-half Clemson 3-pointers, but cut the lead at the break down to 9. In the second half, they came out hotter offensively with a more accurate touch from the field and Clemson made only three more from deep. That proved to be enough to grab a hard-fought ACC win that will keep them in the conference title race, ending up with a final score of 88-79.
It's tough not to be impressed with Maryland's persistence, given that their past two games consisted of major second half comebacks. There are many times in the past two games they could've given up, but they never did. Today, it was a second half performance that improved their FG% from the first half by 10% and dropped Clemson's by nearly 15%. That type of persistence will come in handy down the stretch, and makes it difficult to not love the team.
That said, there was one extremely troubling issue: the open looks Clemson was getting from deep in the first half. Out of their 8 first half threes, I'd say a solid 6 were wide open looks. That was a result of the inside-out play of Clemson and Maryland's determination to help out inside, but it might've done more harm than good. That's certainly one aspect of play that Maryland will have to analyze, because Duke will eat those looks up. They disappeared a little in the second half, but you can bet that Coach K will try to isolate the problem.
This is the second game in a row that Maryland looked oddly vincible at home, and that is somewhat worrisome. I still wouldn't worry a great amount - Georgia Tech and Clemson are both top 50 teams, and the schedule has certainly been grueling. For now, I'm still calm. Virginia Tech will be an important game to figure out where they stand.
Mosley was nothing short of outstanding for a change, fully busting out of his slump and carrying Maryland's offense for the first few minutes. He finished with 20 points, and even shot well from the field (6-8). The slump is officially over.
Before anything else, I should say that Greivis Vasquez had a very strong finish. He finished with 15 points and 13 assists for another double-double and was absolutely fantastic in the second half. That said, he was invisible for the first 33 minutes of the game, and you could see the impact it had.
He needed just 5 points to pass two Terps on the all-time scoring list, and for much of the game, it was in doubt (it came at the 7:00 mark in the second half). When he finally got to that point, Maryland also happened to take the lead. Vasquez ended up scoring more, and Maryland ran much, much more smoothly. The second half was good; the first half was slightly troubling because it showed that Vasquez can struggle and Maryland can hurt when it happens.
It's worth noting Jordan William's solid performance, too. He was average on the boards, but excellent offensively, ending up with 18 points. Very impressed with him, as usual.
Other than that, Landon Milbourne was far from great defensively and on the boards, but wasn't a huge liability aside from some first half struggles. Eric Hayes was his usual admirable self. Cliff Tucker wasn't fantastic, but was solid enough.
Wasn't the most encouraging game of the season, but it was tough to watch the second half and not feel that this is just one of those years when things will break right. Maryland returns to action on Saturday against a struggling Virginia Tech team in Blacksburg before the all-important matchup with Duke for the ACC crown.