It wasn't pretty, but the Maryland Terrapins rode strong second half shooting from the perimeter, balanced scoring and timely defense to hold off the Virginia Tech Hokies, 64-47.
Evan Smotrycz was hot early, hitting two threes in the first five minutes to help the Terps jump out to a quick 8-4 lead, but it ended up being his only points of the first half.
A layup by Shaq Cleare put the Terps up 15-12, but Jarell Eddie followed with a three-pointer to tie the game with 11 minutes left in the half, sparking an 11-2 Hokies run that put them up 23-17.
Dez Wells hit two free throws and Jake Layman added a much-needed three-pointer to pull Maryland within one, as Virginia Tech went scoreless for over five minutes. But a Roddy Peters missed layup led to another three by Eddie, putting the Hokies up four with two minutes to go in the first half.
In a strange turn of events in the final eight seconds of the half, the Terrapins went from trying to stop Tech from grabbing a last-second bucket to Nick Faust taking a blocked shot coast-to-coast for a breakaway dunk right before the buzzer, sending the Terps into halftime down 29-28.
When Maryland came out for the second half, Charles Mitchell wasn't with them. It was unclear of Mitchell's whereabouts or why he hadn't come back out to the bench, but special assistant coach Juan Dixon was also missing. He returned to the end of the bench almost halfway through the second half. It has been said that Mark Turgeon will address the Mitchell situation after the game.
Wells opened the second half with a steal and a layup (with the foul), regaining the lead for Maryland. He continued his hot start with a big block on Devin Wilson with 16:43 left, leaving the Hokies still searching for their first second half points.
Faust went on to miss an ally-oop dunk, but made up for it with a three-pointer from the right corner just seconds later, putting the Terps up 34-29 and bringing the Comcast Center crowd to its feet.
The Hokies got their first points of the half on free throws by Jarrel Eddie, but Seth Allen answered with a three-pointer to make it 37-31. After a layup by Tech's Joey van Zegeren, Layman hit back to back threes to give the Terps a 10 point lead with thirteen and a half minutes to go, their largest of the game.
A minute later, Faust hit Maryland's ninth three of the game, but it was followed up by a dunk and free throw by Van Zegeren to keep Virginia Tech within nine with twelve minutes to play. The Hokies continued to scrap to keep the game from getting out of hand, with Eddie hitting another three after a layup by Roddy Peters had put the Terrapins up 11.
With Mitchell on the bench, Cleare made the most of his extended playing time, picking up a block, steal, and dunk all within a one-minute period. Trevor Thompson cut the deficit to eight for Tech, but Roddy Peters hit a jumper seconds later on the other end to make it once again a double-digit game.
Both teams went scoreless for nearly two minutes before Seth Allen got a steal and gave it to Wells, who threw down a thundering dunk to make it 54-42 with 6:35 to play. Smotrycz followed with two free throws -- his first points since early in the first half -- and Layman drilled another three to cap a 9-0 run and give the Terps a commanding 17-point lead.
Maryland coasted to the finish from there as the Hokies continued to struggle mightily from offense, finishing with just 18 second half points.
Jake Layman led the way with 13 points on four-of-nine shooting from the perimeter off the bench, while Dez Wells added 11 points, four assists, two steals and two blocks. Evan Smotrcyz, Nick Faust, and Seth Allen all added eight points.