If we witnessed the power of the homecourt and a determined team in Maryland's win over Virginia on Monday, we certainly witnessed the vengeance of an away game and a distracted, low-energy team against North Carolina State today. No one would've accused either team of playing pretty, but Maryland was especially ugly for the first half of the game, with plenty of missed shots and turnovers. Even while mounting a comeback, it was tough to describe the game as "beautiful".
Sometimes, though, that's just what it takes to grab an ACC road win.
While trailing for a better part of the first half and the first part of the second half, Maryland looked disinterested and tired. They made mental mistakes and didn't seem to have their legs when taking jumpers. Very, very little went right, and the first half ended with a 22-10 run for N.C. State, who took a 10 point lead into half.
For whatever reason, the second half was a very different story. Maryland slowly, surely, methodically got closer, and a Greivis Vasquez three that brought Maryland within a couple officially woke the Terps up. A much more efficient, energetic team fought off the occasional N.C. State run, retook the lead, and never looked back. Maryland looked beaten in the first half; in the second half, N.C. State looked downright downtrodden. They eventually pulled the lead up to 10, and finally ended with a 67-58 win in Raleigh.
Vasquez was the stat-stuffer of the day, finishing with 25 points, a good majority of which came during that second half comeback. Jordan Williams - whom I'll talk about soon - was the only other one in double-digits for Maryland on the day.
Not to make excuses for the earlier performance, but winning on the road in the ACC is extremely difficult on its own, regardless of how much rest a team has. When that team has only one day of rest in between games, the next game - regardless of whether its against the best team in the conference or the worst - will be an extremely difficult one. That partially excuses the first half performance, and it also makes the second half comeback that followed are the more impressive.
That said, at some point this team is going to need to figure out how to play on the road in the ACC. They still have to travel to Virginia Tech and Virginia, and with the way they've played away from Comcast Center recently, there is reason for worry. Those games will certainly be interesting.
If you want to look at one player that really shined in this game, yes, it could be Vasquez, but I'd choose Jordan Williams. He was simply dominant at times, and against one of the best post players in the ACC in Tracy Smith. For whatever reason, GameTracker didn't track rebounds, but he was surely pushing double-digits in that area. Oh, and he dropped 19 points, occasionally unstoppable on the offensive end. And that aforementioned Smith? Just 10.
I do believe Adrian Bowie also deserves a shout-out, too. Or, rather, Anthony Bowie. Whichever one showed up tonight came up big, hitting 2-2 from deep and netting 8 points total. He's still not PG material, but he can still score in bunches. Big game for him tonight.
Other than that, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all (*ahem* Sean Mosley *ahem*). This game wasn't pretty, but it wasn't supposed to be. All they needed was a win, and that's all they got it. Mission accomplished.
Now they get a period of (relative) rest with a full two days (!) of rest before taking on Georgia Tech back at the Comcast Center.