Nothing in ACC road games, particularly in rivalries, comes easily. If we didn't know that before, we certainly do now.
Maryland led by as much as 14 in the first half, but Virginia slowly fought back and cut the lead as low as 1 late in the game. The final few minutes are difficult to describe - Maryland had trouble getting anything to foul and were seemingly constantly called for questionable fouls, while Virginia couldn't miss from deep. Eventually, Greivis Vasquez came on the scene and had a few crucial baskets to spark Maryland to a close win, 74-68. The win guarantees at least a share of the ACC regular season championship, and marks the first time that any member of the current team, even the senior class, has won in Charlottesville.
Virginia would've been in it at the end had it not been for a technical foul called on Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, who threw his jacket on the floor after a blocking foul was called on Jerome Meyinsse. Sometimes technicals are good, but it was awful for UVA in this instance, and it showed Bennett's youth as a coach. Feel free to send him thank you cards.
Was it uninspiring? Mostly. Was it emotional? Not at all. Was it a piece of work? Hardly. But it was an ACC road win, and good luck finding a road win in the ACC that's any of the above. Winning a road game when playing poorly against a rival? That's nearly impossible, but Maryland still did it. That in and of itself is encouraging, regardless of the quality of play today.
Vasquez started out lightning fast, scoring 10 in the first seven minutes, but slowed down and all but disappeared for the next 27 minutes. He wouldn't score again until the 6:00 mark in the second half, and his absence was a big reason Virginia closed the gap.
But when Maryland needed him, he came up big. He scored two threes in a row once he got off the schnide, and scored 13 in the last 6 minutes to get to 23 for the game. He was absolutely crucial in the final few minutes, and showed why he will win - and completely deserves to win - the ACC Player of the Year award.
Not enough can be said about the reemergence of Adrian Bowie the past few games, too. He's been sensational, and though I still think he works better as a 2 guard in this offense, he does deserve a shot at the point next season. He's so much more confident and so much smoother both when handling the ball and shooting it; could you honestly expect anything more out of him? He had a few key baskets today to seem even more impressive than his stats, which were solid (8 points), indicate.
Other than that, not a lot was particularly notable. Eric Hayes was what you expect Eric Hayes to be. Landon Milbourne was better on the boards than he had been recently (7 rebounds) but still was ineffective offensively. Jordan Williams looked good, but his stats were average. Dino Gregory had a few moments that looked great before drifting into the background, and Cliff Tucker was a solid, unspectacular force off the bench. No one was particularly better or worse than they were expected to be. No one really played with much in the way of emotion.
Instead, it was more impressive as a team performance - particularly not relenting when Virginia made their gigantic run at the end of the game. And the fact that they won with such a poor performance is a good sign, believe it or not.
Maryland basketball: 2009-10 ACC Champions. Has a nice ring, no?