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Maryland Grabs Close ACC Road Win Over Florida State, 71-67

The first half of the Florida State game couldn't have gone worse for Maryland if you had scripted it. The Terps took up where they left off against Clemson, scoring just 25 first half points, shooting 39% from the field - 0-4 from 3 - and turning the ball over 8 times.

Fortunately, however, the second half couldn't have gone any better. They upped the shooting percentage to 47% - 39% from deep - turned it over just four times, and outscored FSU by 8. That second half performance was enough to overcome a 4 point halftime deficit, stave off a late FSU run, and get a much, much needed road ACC win, 71-67.

Star of the game was pretty easy for me: Jordan Williams. Hot on the heels of his 13 point, 12 rebound performance against Clemson, he came up with 12 huge points and 6 boards. He somehow figured out how to dunk in traffic, and if he can do that on a regular basis, there are few in the ACC that will be able to stop him. He was extremely impressive tonight, and seems to have fully settled in to ACC play.

One thing that really stood out about Williams' play was just how much worse Maryland seemed without him on the floor. Maybe it's selective memory, but Williams' presence in the middle opened up the entire floor on offense, provided an outlet for easy points, and neutralized Solomon Alabi.

Landon Milbourne was also extremely impressive...again. 18 points, 6 boards, and one ginormous late offensive rebound. He's money with the midrange jumper and basically was the only person on Maryland that could score for minutes at a time. He's the quiet MVP of the team.

Greivis Vasquez had a solid bounce-back game, but it wasn't as good as the stats indicate (and I'm a pretty pro-Vaz guy). 23 points is great, and 8-19 from the field isn't bad, but the 5 TOs hurt, even with 7 assists. His decision-making was extremely questionable at times, and it nearly cost MD the win down the stretch. He forced way too many shots in the final minutes.

Other than that, it was relatively quiet. Eric Hayes contributed 12, and...that was it. Literally. James Padgett, Dino Gregory, and Sean Mosley were the only other people that scored. At all. And they combined for 6 points. James Padgett scored more than Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker combined. Eric Hayes scored more than the entire rest of the bench. After all the talk about a balanced team and bench play, Maryland sure didn't show it. You can't expect to win games when you have four offensive contributors.

That means Mosley (who had just 2 at the end of the game), Adrian Bowie, and Cliff Tucker need to get back to contributing like they were earlier in the year. Everything just works so much better when they don't have to depend on one or two guys. All three have been quiet recently, and that's just not going to work in ACC play.

There's also a big hole defensively that Maryland apparently needs to plug. Derwin Kitchin just destroyed this defense. I don't know if that was a trade-off they made or if he was just in a zone, but if there's a hole, Kitchin exploited it. He dropped 27 - a career-high, natch - and Maryland had no defensive answer. That's one of the few negatives to take from this game.

Maryland needed this game, badly. Now they can point to two quality wins, one of which on the road, and keeps the ACC contention dream alive. If they lost this one, they'd be on the bad side of the bubble. Right now, they're sitting just inside the bracket and will receive a nice RPI boost. They've finally proved their worth to critics, and the difference between 5-2 and 4-3 seems massive at this point.

Now it's on to UNC. We'll have some stuff on that over the weekend, but one quick parting thought: UNC is UNC, but they're a very bad UNC this year.