It wasn't always pretty, but after the week of hell Maryland just went through, any win will do. Jordan Williams scored 16, Cliff Tucker scored 14, and the Terrapins withstood a late Tigers run to defeat Clemson at the Comcast Center, 79-77.
Maryland looked good early, hitting a number of early three-pointers to get a thirteen-point first-half lead. A 7-0 run by Clemson at the end of the half got the Tigers within four, though, and Maryland was never able to stretch the lead out to double-digits again. Clemson whittled the lead down to one twice in the second half, including once in the final 20 seconds, but Maryland hit a number of clutch free throws and Demontez Stitt missed a three-pointer at the buzzer, allowing Maryland to escape with a close, hard-fought win.
It wasn't all that impressive and it hardly has convinced me that this team is better than they've shown the past few weeks, but if nothing else it stopped the bleeding. Maryland needed to get a win for dozens of reasons - resume purposes, morale purposes, fan support purposes, etc - and they got one, even if it was closer than anyone would've preferred. Clemson's not a great team, but they've made a living on keeping games close; in a perfect world, Maryland would've won this by double-digits, but at least they escaped with a W.
Two lineup notes stuck out to me: Haukur Palsson started in place of Sean Mosley, who had been slumping the past few games. Palsson was okay and even hit a three-pointer early, but he was quiet and looked like a liability at times. I have no idea if that's the lineup down the stretch, and I don't think Gary does, either. Mosley sat on the bench for very long stretches, including almost the entire first ten minutes of the second half, but he still finished with 20 minutes - that's eight more than Palsson.
The other thing that was surprising was the lineup in the final few minutes. Adrian Bowie, normally off the ball, took over for Terrell Stoglin and Pe'Shon Howard at point guard, while Mosley and Cliff Tucker were also in the game. That's a lineup that we saw a decent amount early in the year, but it had fallen off quite a bit since the CvC Classic games. Honestly, I like the experience it gives on the floor in those types of situations.
Elsewhere, it wasn't impressive, but it got the job done. Maryland's shooting, both from beyond-the-arc and from the free-throw stripe, was encouraging; they were 57% and 65% respectively, and given their history, that's actually pretty good. They also shot 50% from the field, another positive sign. There were some rough moments in the second half when the three-pointers stopped fouling, but all-all-in the offense was good enough.
For the record, Jordan Williams - 16 points and 11 boards - did extend his double-double streak, and he now owns Maryland's all-time record for consecutive double-doubles. I know a lot of fans don't care about it anymore, but it's still extremely impressive. Congrats to Jordan, and hopefully it continues much longer.
The point guard situation is still almost impossible to decipher. Terrell Stoglin finally started scoring again, dropping 13 on 3-6 shooting (including 3-5 from three!), but he had four turnovers and just 2 assists. Pe'Shon Howard was scoreless again and had just one assist, but his +/- was +14. The position continues to be a weakness for the Terrapins, and I remain undecided on the better option.
Hey, in the end, it was an ACC win. The past few games have been unbelievably rough, and this team needed a win. Was it convincing? No. Do I suddenly think this team will make the NCAA tournament? No. But this game ends up in the W column, and that's the first step toward making a run. Now they have a building block, and if they can get their confidence up, they can make a run at sneaking into the tournament down the ACC stretch.