The third time was the charm for Maryland.
The Terps got their first ACC home win over the weekend, hanging on down the stretch for a 79-77 victory over Clemson.
The Terrapins (12-7, 2-3) had dropped a four-pointer to Boston College in the Comcast Center in December and then fell flat last Thursday in a disappointing 74-57 loss to Virginia Tech, the Terps' worst setback of the season and the largest loss ever in 10-year-old Comcast.
Even with a short turnaround to Saturday's game with Clemson, the Terrapins turned things around, enjoying one of their best days from 3-point range, knocking down 8-of-14, and from the free throw line, hitting 23-of-35, including 10-of-14 over the final 1:49. Maryland entered the weekend as the ACC's worst free throw shooting team at just 63.1 percent.
"It was really nice to win this one with free throws," said senior forward Dino Gregory. "People had been saying all year that we can't hit them but we did when we had to."
Gregory and seniors Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker said afterward that this was the kind of win that could get the Terrapins rolling. With few high-profile wins on their record, a winning slate in ACC play is a must to reach the NCAA Tournament for a third straight year.
Rival Virginia is up next, Thursday in Charlottesville, followed by another road tilt at Georgia Tech. The Terps will have a chance to make a mark in the next home game, Feb. 2 against ACC-leader and defending national champion Duke.
--Sophomore F Jordan Williams kept his streak of double-double performances alive with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Clemson. It was his 13th such effort in a row, breaking Len Elmore's school-record streak of 12 double-doubles set in 1973-74. Williams leads the ACC with 12.1 rebounds per game.
--Maryland has been ranked among the national leaders in field goal percentage defense all year, currently ninth yielding 37.9 percent. Only one team -- Virginia Tech -- has hit better than 50 percent from the field against the Terrapins. The Terps played a long stretch of 1-2-2 zone against Clemson, a rarity in years past for Gary Williams but a defense he said he will use again this season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- That's how many victories Gary Williams needs to match legendary coach John Wooden's career total of 664 after a win on Jan. 22. With 661 career wins, Williams is currently fifth among active coaches. The Terrapins have won 20-or-more games in 12 of the last 16 seasons, and 25-or-more, six times under the fiery coach.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We had to have this one. We played hard and with intensity the whole game. We wanted this one bad and I think it showed in our play." -- Senior guard Adrian Bowie after the Clemson win.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Virginia, Jan. 27
KEY MATCHUPS: For the third straight game, Maryland will face one of the ACC's top defensive teams. The Cavaliers like to control the tempo and rely on 3-point shooting. While the Terrapin offense has been inconsistent, Maryland excels at defending the perimeter. Their .307 defensive field-goal percentage is the second best mark in the conference while the Cavaliers' .375 shooting behind the arc is the third highest figure in the league.
FUTURES MARKET: Haukur Palsson, the 6-6 freshman forward from Iceland, got his first start Saturday against Clemson. Gary Williams said he thought "Hawk" would give the team energy after the quick turnaround from Thursday's loss to Virginia Tech. Palsson has become a fan favorite for his hustle, soft shooting touch and great feel for the game, offensively. He's a tremendous passer. He is averaging 2.3 points and 2.2 rebounds and had just three points in his first start -- hitting his lone 3-point attempt -- but he has obviously worked into Maryland's rotation playing small forward and some power forward.
--Since moving to shooting guard eight games ago, senior Adrian Bowie has averaged 10.6 points per game and scored in double figures seven times.
--Sophomore C Jordan Williams hit the 500-rebound plateau last week, becoming the 39th Terrapin over that mark. He is only the third Terp and the 20th ACC player over 500 boards as a sophomore. He enters this week with 513 career rebounds.
--Streaky senior G Cliff Tucker has hit at least one 3-pointer in each of the last 10 games, and has been particularly accurate lately, hitting 16-of-33 (48.4 percent) behind the arc the last eight games entering the week.