Adrian Bowie scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half, Virginia shot just 33% from the floor, and the Maryland Terrapins defeated the Cavaliers 66-42. The Terps evened their ACC record at 3-3 and raised their record overall to 13-7. The margin was Maryland's largest ever at Virginia, and is notable for an ACC road game against any opponent not named Wake Forest.
Maryland suffered a slow start and were losing 17-12 early, but proceeded to go on a furious 12-3 run and never looked back, holding onto the lead the rest of the game. UVA closed the lead to just three shortly after halftime, but the Terrapins outscored the Cavs 40-21 in the second half on the back of outstanding second-half performances from Bowie and Cliff Tucker (13 points). Quite simply, Maryland's offense caught fire exactly when Virginia's slowed to a stop, and things got ugly fast.
As far as confidence-boosters go, you don't get much better than this. It was a massive road win at a place where Maryland historically struggles, and it was an ACC road win at that. UVA without star forward Mike Scott is probably a bottom 3 team in the ACC, so don't go getting too excited, but Maryland took care of business tonight. It's tough to ask anything more than that. More thoughts and player reactions after the jump.
Despite the huge margin of victory in an ACC road game, the most striking thing might've been Jordan Williams' performance. Statistically, it was the worst game of his season, with season-lows in both points (just 4) and rebounds (only 6). This ended his run of 13 consecutive double-doubles, a Maryland record, and in disappointing fashion. Like many others, I feel ambivalence at the streak's end; it was a good run, but Williams' play had dropped recently. Still, congrats go out to him on it, and hopefully a new one starts at Georgia Tech in a few days.
In all fairness, he did impact the game in a variety of other ways outside of those two statistical areas. He was double-teamed all night, and he actually found a way to pass out of it this time, with a career-high 3 assists. He really opened up the perimeter and did a good job of keeping his head up and searching for open players on the outside.
That said, Maryland was able to withstand the poor performance because it was Virginia. Yes, it was impressive that Maryland found elsewhere in the offense the 13-point difference between Jordan's normal performance and what he gave tonight, but don't think the opposition had nothing to do with that. This is Virginia, and Maryland can't afford too many lack-luster performances like this, passing or not. Interestingly enough, Jordan has been struggling the past few games, and this might just have been the nadir.
On that note, a ton of props go out to Adrian Bowie. He was a point shy of a career-high (he dropped 23 in his sophomore year) and absolutely took over the second half. Nearly everything was working for Bowie; he shot 8-13 from the field and 3-5 from deep. He threw in four steals and two assists. He wasn't perfect - 3-5 from the line, plus 4 turnovers - but it was the best performance out of him in a long time, perhaps in two years.
In fact, Bowie's trending the exact opposite way of Jordan Williams. He's scored in double-digits in five straight games, interrupted only by a one-point aberration against Duke. And in the game before that, he dropped 16. Bowie has been fantastic for the most part the past few games, and the importance of that can't be understated. If he continues to play like this, Maryland might have found one of its big missing pieces. Assuming Jordan Williams gets back up to speed, that's a very encouraging development.
Not to be overlooked is Maryland's defensive performance. UVA was limited to an excruciating 42 points, a season-low for the Hoos. They run a slow pace and that had something to do with it, but they were limited to just 33% shooting from the field and just 23% from deep; considering they're one of the best 3pt shooting teams in the conference, that second stat is especially significant. Maryland has been one of the best defensive teams in the country all year long, and this should help to reinforce that notion.
A few final notes: it seems impossible to go a game without mentioning two things: Sean Mosley and the point guard battle. We'll start with
Sugar Sean, who returned to the starting lineup but failed to score on the night. He took only 3 shots and made a few nice hustle plays - in other words, he did quite a bit of what you expect him to do - but the scoring still isn't there. January's been tough to him; he hasn't hit double-digits since late December, and it has to be messing with him. I know it's messing with everyone else. I imagine he'll stay in the starting lineup, but his playing time is (deservedly) being eaten up.
For the PG battle, Pe'Shon Howard might've just made a critical move on Terrell Stoglin. Stoglin can shoot and proved as much early on, scoring five of Maryland's first seven points, but he hit only one more basket the rest of the game. His performance was up-and-down; he had only one turnover, which was a positive, but played sloppily at times and took a few ill-advised shots. That's kind of who he is at this point; as he progresses, those shots will start to be effective. Now, they're just vexing. He's still one of Maryland's most dynamic perimeter players.
The thing is, when Maryland gets performances from Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker like they did tonight, they don't need dynamism out of their point guard. They need smoothness, and that's what Pe'Shon Howard brought off the bench. He played 24 minutes (tying a career-high, mind you) and scored 9 points on 4-5 shooting, including an unexpected hit from three. He led Maryland with four assists and didn't commit a turnover, while playing strong defense. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the starting lineup soon if he keeps this up, or maybe even in the next game - Gary's shown a willingness to play around with the starting 5. I still like Stoglin a lot and think he might be the answer long-term, but Howard is bringing a lot right now.
Good win. Not much more to say than that and I'm still skeptical of getting hopes up about the NCAA tournament, but it's another step in the right direction.