Boston College Eagles (2-2, 0-0 ACC, 2nd in the ACC)
Maryland Terrapins (7-3, 0-0 ACC, 2nd in the ACC)
Sun., Dec. 12
4 p.m., Comcast Center, College Park, M.D.
All squared with six wins apiece, Maryland and Boston College will open their in-conference play with their seventh all-time meeting. The series began in 1958, when the Terps defeated the Eagles 86-63 at Madison Square Garden. The Terps won three straight matchups before the Eagles broke the trend in 1990, when the Eagles finally won, 100-85.
When the teams matched up last season, it was Maryland ending a two-game slid versus the Eagles, as Greivis Vasquez dropped 17 points and nine assists on his 23rd birthday. Landon Milbourne, Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker all scored in double-figures, and as a team shot nearly 50 percent from the field and 58 percent from long-range en route to a 73-57 victory at Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Eagles head to College Park led behind the heroics of junior guard Reggie Jackson. Among ACC players, Jackson is the second-highest scorer, closely behind leader Malcolm Delaney of Virginia Tech. Jackson ranks third in assists, seventh in steals and a conference-best free-throw shooting percentage. In the Eagles' last game against Providence, Jackson led the way with 26 points, the eighth time he has reached double-digit scoring in the last nine games.
The Eagles' starting five includes four upperclassmen - three seniors and a seasoned vet in Jackson. Forward Joe Trapani will play his 74th game with Boston College against the Terps, one point shy of 1,000 for his career. Biko Paris, who will join Jackson in the backcourt, will start his 39th game.
Sometimes with a new coach you think it is a new team, Gary Williams said. They're playing a different system, but they are used to playing with each other.
Two of Boston College's key wins in this young season include a 22-point beat-down of Cal in the Old Space Classic in Orlando and a n 88-76 win at home over Indiana. In both games, the Eagles shot close to or over 50 percent from the field. In their last three games, the team has shot better than 50 percent, including a season-best 51.7 percent performance versus Providence - all three resulted in wins.
Under new coach Steven Donahue, formerly of Cornell, the Eagles are a different looking team. Instead of a slow-moving flex offense, Donahue has implemented an up-tempo system which has been embraced by his players. At Cornell, Donahue led his team to three straight Ivy League titles and a trip to the Sweet 16 last year. In his stint as an assistant at Penn, Donahue worked under Fran Dunphy, a former coach under Maryland's Gary Williams. Dunphy's Temple squad defeated the Terps earlier this month.
He's done a great job wherever he's been, Gary Williams said, stating how impressive his work at Cornell has been giving the historical dominance of Penn and Princeton in the Ivy League. He has the players excited about playing.
Boston College sports an ACC-best 87 percent free-throw shooting percentage. Four of the five starters shoot above 60 percent from the free-throw stripe.
This season the Eagles have made an emphasis to avoid pesky mistakes. The team has the best assist-turnover ratio in ACC at 1.4, recording 130 assists to just 92 turnovers on 657 points. Primary ball-handler Reggie Jackson alone has 40 assists with just 16 turnovers.
The Eagles can shoot from long range. They rank third in the ACC in made threes with eight per game, while Maryland sits dead last with three. Their up-tempo style allows the Eagles to attempt more (201). Reggie Jackson is shooting nearly 48 percent from downtown with 21 made this season, second only to Duke's Andre Dawkins.
Bench play is vital to the success of Boston College. When their bench outscores their opponents' bench, the team is 4-1. Senior forward Corey Raji recently eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career, while senior center Josh Southern is coming off a career-best 16-point performance against Providence.
Rebounding - Boston College ranks 11th in both offensive and defensive rebounding in the conference, as they have a -2.7 rebounding margin this season, second worst in the ACC. No player is averaging double-digit rebounding; their highest average is 6.3 per game from Corey Raji off the bench.
Defense - there will be open shots against the Eagles. The team ranks ninth in both field-goal percentage defense (.422) and three-point shooting defense (.335).
Matching up with the Terps
Maryland ranks 12th in nation with 42.5 rebounds per game, which bodes well for the porous effort on behalf of the Eagles on the boards this year. Jordan Williams, who leads the ACC in rebounding with just under 12 per game, should have no problems continuing his success on the interior.
Maryland also sports the 31st-best FG-percentage with .484, meaning they are getting to the rim and hitting their open shots. They will look to continue this trend against a struggling Boston College defense that is giving up open shots.
With an up-tempo offense, the Terps must make a conscious effort to get back on defense against the Eagles and play more sound transition defense, according to point guard Adrian Bowie.
Keys to the Game
Establish Jordan Williams. The double-double machine that is Jordan Williams recorded his fourth consecutive on the season against the Spartans, and his eighth total which ties him for tops in the nation.
We probably wouldn't be as far as we would without him. He runs the floor the great. He is just a winner. - Tucker
Outside shooting. With the Eagles likely trying to limit Williams inside, the perimeter shooting should open up for the others on the court. Head coach Gary Williams said that the team must prove they can score from different places, and he will look to four or five guards to fulfill the task.
This year, if we can get the ball into Jordan [Williams] he can score. Part of process is get open shots for others. Once defenses start worrying so much about Jordan you want a Cliff [Tucker] or whoever to step up and have more opportunities to score, Gary Williams said, comparing the situation to that of Greivis Vasquez last season and how Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne were able to complement him.
Strong start. Jordan Williams said the main problem the Terps have had facing top-tier opponents is coming out of the gate hot. It was an issue at the beginning of last year, but the leadership and experience allowed the team to overcome it a little easier. Against UNC Greensboro, Maryland shot almost 55 percent in the first half, leading to an 18-point lead for the Terps at halftime.
Most of our losses came by not being prepared. We've kind of just waited to see their intensity level is going to be like, and we played to their intensity level, center Jordan Williams said.
Beat the zone. Boston College has run a 1-3-1 defense this season. In order to combat the zone, according to Jordan Williams, the team must mix up their play calls and show more patience on the offensive end, allowing the shot-clock to wind down and find holes in the defense. In the second half again Elon, Maryland faced the zone, which allowed the team to exercise their inside-out game, scoring easily at 51.4 percent.
Disrupt Reggie Jackson's flow. It sounds easier than it is to do. Gary Williams said Jackson is just a different type of guard now that he has accepted ball-handling responsibilities. Jackson has the ability to shoot, as well as drive, finish and draw contact. He can do it all - he can shoot, he can drive, he can go to the left, go to his right, Adrian Bowie said.
Boston College will run a lot of screens to get him open looks, so the intensity on defense must be ramped up. Maryland will use a guard rotation to try and tire him down, and prevent him from hitting his stride.
Against elite guards this season, the Terps have managed well. Two of the tougher matchups included College of Charleston's Andrew Goudelock, who earlier this season exploded for 27 points. Against then-No. 3 Pittsburgh, both Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker were limited to 13 and 10 points, respectively.
TV: FSN - Ron Thulin (Play-by-Play) and Dan Bonner (Analyst
Radio: Terrapins Sports Radio Network - Johnny Holliday (Play-by-Play), Chris Knoche (Analyst),
Walt Williams (Sideline)