Rapid Reaction: Maryland 74, Wake Forest 55

Tucker explodes for 21 on his 22nd birthday as the Terps topple Wake 74-55.

WHAT IT MEANS: For one, the Terps will not go winless on their three-game road streak. But it does show that the team has enough mental toughness to overcome a rough loss at Cameron Indoor and play well at another hostile environment. It also shows that the tough, stingy defense that the Terps have put on display as of late is not a fluke.

With their first win in the Atlantic Coast Conference under their belt, the Terps can focus their attention on making a run against a top-10 team in Villanova, and try to break their stretch of losses against top 25 teams. Four of Maryland’s five losses have came to top-tier clubs, and with their tremendous effort against Duke and the team developing strong chemistry, they may have put together a formula to take down the elite.

ON THE DEFENSE: Between holding the Demon Deacons to an 0-6 start and a 15-0 streak towards the end of the game, Maryland has shown that their defense may be the trademark of the team this season. Entering the game, the Terps ranked eighth in the nation in FG percentage defense at 37 percent, and held Wake Forest to under 32 percent.

The Demon Deacons leading scorer, freshman guard J.T. Terrell, was limited to just eight points and 4-13 from the field. Despite Terrell’s 40.8 three-point shooting percentage, the Terps’ challenging perimeter defense held him to an 0-4 night.

UNABLE TO FIND WILLIAMS, STOGLIN: The Wake Forest defense did their best effort to limit Jordan Williams’ touches in the first half, and did so effectively. The Terps center did not record his second field goal until 3.5 minutes into the second half. However, his eight second half points and 11 boards loomed larger in the victory.

The same cannot be said for freshman guard Terrell Stoglin. In his third game starting at the point for Maryland, Stoglin accounted for just two points which came on a steal towards a meaningless period in the game. His three assists ranked third on the team behind Cliff Tucker and fellow frosh Pe’Shon Howard. Stoglin’s play will need to step up his play if he wants to remain in Gary Williams’ starting five.

SIXTH MAN EXTRAORDINAIRE: On his 22nd birthday, swingman Cliff Tucker came up on point shy from matching his new age, which would have tied his career high of 22 points when he exploded against the eventual national champions North Carolina. Tucker’s four dimes were two short of his career-best six. In other words, Tucker can’t be too disappointed with his birthday performance. Happy birthday, Cliff.

WILLIAMS’ STREAK: After a slow start, Jordan Williams came alive in the second half to record his 10th straight double-double, two shy of Maryland’s record-holder Len Elmore. Williams’ 13 points and 15 rebounded were good for his 14th double-double on the season.

WHAT’S NEXT: You called Wake Forest a must-win after coming up short against the No. 1 in the country. After finally putting up a one in the ACC win column, it now time to take your talents to Philadelphia, P.A. to face seven-ranked Villanova Saturday. The Wildcats provide yet another test for the Terps, much like Illinois and Pittsburgh were earlier on this season. With a new starting five and perhaps some confidence, this game should gage where the Terps really stand.


Twitter: @samspiegs

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