With Maryland finishing their last season in the ACC, we will be reviewing some of the most important and memorable ACC games involving Maryland. Today, Pete talks about Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech has played in the ACC since 1979, but for geographical reasons, they've never really been a game that Maryland has circled on the schedule (besides the Joe Smith game in January 1994). The series has certainly been close -- Maryland's most recent (and final) ACC victory over the Yellow Jackets gives the Terps a 40-36 edge in the all-time series -- but it just never had the feel of many of the other ACC matchups.
There is one game the two teams played, however, with a finish that's simply impossible to forget.
It was a late February game in College Park in 2010, and going into it, it was clear it wouldn't be an easy task.
The way Maryland has played at home, though, leads one to believe Maryland will find a way to win. Georgia Tech will present a challenge, but Maryland has rose to meet and surpass every challenge on their home court so far this year, and I can only hope it'll be the same on Saturday.
The focus of the matchup was actually supposed to be between the ACC's top two freshman -- Georgia Tech blue-chip star Derrick Favors and blossoming Maryland forward Jordan Williams.
Favors won that battle with ease, scoring 21 points and 18 rebounds to Williams's nine and 12, but neither would be involved in the Story of the Game.
The Story of the Game was supposed to be Greivis Vasquez, who became the first ACC player to reach 2,000 points, 700 assists and 600 rebounds. And he was nearly the Story of the Game for different reasons, if not for one, measly timeout.
The Terps took the lead into halftime, 34-32, and it was a tight one throughout. This was the year Maryland went undefeated at home in ACC play (splitting the conference title with Duke), and it was one of their most tightly-contested home games of the year.
It was Maryland's fourth game in an eight-day stretch, and it was easy to see they were a bit tired. The Yellow Jackets outrebounded them, shot better from three, committed less fouls and blocked more than three times as many shots. But the Terps had talent and flair in spades, and 18 points from Greivis Vasquez (with eight assists) and 15 points from Eric Hayes kept them in it.
In the dying seconds of the game, Georgia Tech took the lead in a fashion befitting the rest of the game -- Derrick Favors fought to rebound an Iman Shumpert miss on put it back home, capitalizing on the second-chance opportunity.
It's at this point that I feel compelled to tell you that I was at this game, behind what was in the second half the Georgia Tech basket.
The analyst was wrong, by the way. It was assistant coach Keith Booth, now with Loyola (Md.), who called the timeout. I heard Booth's whistle right before the timeout, and slunk into my chair as the crowd erupted around me before the inevitable silence, giving the feeling that all sound was simply sucked out of the building.
That feeling lasted for just about one minute.
It wasn't Greivis Vasquez, the team's leader on and off the court and one of the greatest guards in Maryland's history, who took the final shot. It wasn't Eric Hayes, the team's best shooter, who had already made three three pointers on the day. It wasn't even Jordan Williams, who came up big in the final stretch to keep the game close.
It was reserve guard Cliff Tucker, who would later transfer to play football at UTEP.
I was at the game with my roommate, who was not a big sports fan in any sense of the word. When Tucker's shot fell in, he screamed the happiest "NO!" I have yet to hear and picked me up so hard my ribs hurt for about three days.
Maryland would go on their next four games, including a win against Duke, finishing out the regular season on a seven-game winning streak. The Terps would lose in the first round of the ACC Tournament however -- guess who to?
So that's easily the most important Georgia Tech memory I have from Maryland's time in the ACC, and it's also one of the biggest I have from any Maryland game. I look forward to hearing yours in the comments.
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