Maryland's 80-66 loss to Miami might have devastated the Terrapins' NCAA Tournament hopes. Barring a great Maryland run in the ACC Tournament next week in Greensboro, N.C., the damage is likely to severe to overcome and the Terrapins will be instead pointing at a home game in the NIT.
The Terrapins fell to 18-12 overall and 7-8 in the ACC. They certainly don't have any momentum following back-to-back, double-digit losses this week at North Carolina and at Miami. Maryland is just 2-4 over the last six games. The 14-point loss to Miami, a team mired in ninth place in the ACC standings, is Maryland's worst loss to date.
Maryland closes out the regular season Saturday at home against Virginia, another lightly regarded but dangerous team that suddenly has won three of its last four.
The Terps came out flat against Miami, falling behind by 15 in the first half, and going down by as many as 17 early in the second half before a furious rally brought them within five points with 14 minutes to play. They didn't get any closer.
The day before the game, Maryland coach Gary Williams had talked about the Terrapins coming out flat against North Carolina, something that would now have to be characterized as a trend.
"We've been going since October 15, and you say, 'Well you should be ready to play' but it's not that easy," he said. "You're talking this is our 30th game and that's a lot of games to get ready to play, and you travel and get into trouble, tough travel periods like we're in right now. It's not that easy. You work on it. You have good people out there and they do a good job of getting ready to play."
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: Miami's 2-3 zone defense stymied Maryland most of the night. Perimeter shooting -- the Terps were a season-low 21-of-62 (33.9 percent) from the field -- was a familiar problem. The offensive woes were compounded as center Jordan Williams, the ACC leader in field goal percentage as of March 2, turned in his poorest shooting effort of the year, hitting just 3-of-17 from the floor.
Maryland's defensive effort wasn't good enough. The 'Canes connected on 28-of-51 shots (54.9 percent), forcing coach Gary Williams to employ a 1-2-2 zone in the second half even though his team trailed by double figures.
While the Terps rallied with some transition scoring, Miami eventually shot them out of the zone, hitting 12 3-pointers in 23 attempts.
The Hurricanes' 54.9 percent shooting overall was the best anyone has shot against Maryland this season, another disturbing late-season occurrence.
--Despite -- or maybe because of -- their lack of proficiency from 3-point range, the Terrapins led the ACC in field-goal percentage, hitting 48 percent from the field on the season through Feb. 26. Jordan Williams' had an ACC-leading 55.4 percentage.
--Last in the ACC in free-throw shooting much of the year, the Terrapins turned it up a notch down the stretch. In their last four games through Feb. 27, the Terps had hit 79 of 87 from the line (.814). Maryland was 23-for-25 in the win over N.C. State, and it was 14-for-18 against North Carolina on Feb. 27.
BY THE NUMBERS: 17.4 -- That was Maryland's ACC-leading assists average through Feb. 25, a figure that ranked eighth in the nation and was reflective of the Terrapins' team-oriented offense under Gary Williams. No Terrapin ranked in the top eight individually, though. Senior Adrian Bowie was ninth in the ACC at 3.7.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're just trying to make sure we stay focused and make sure we'll be a tough team because coming down the stretch, a lot of games have a lot of pressure on us. Some teams fold. Some teams come through. We want to be one of the teams that come through. -- Maryland freshman G Pe'Shon Howard.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--vs. Virginia, March 5
KEY MATCHUPS: Maryland pulled away in the second half for a 66-42 victory at Virginia on Jan. 27. The Cavaliers contained Jordan Williams, ending his 13-game streak of double-doubles, but the senior guard tandem of Adrian Bowie (22 points) and Cliff Tucker (13) lifted the Terps. Those two and Dino Gregory will be playing their final home game in this one.
FUTURES MARKET: Freshman G Terrell Stoglin singlehandedly kept Maryland within striking distance of North Carolina on Feb. 27, hitting for a career-high 28 points to go with three assists. Stoglin averaged 23.7 points in his last four games of February.
He was recently the ACC Rookie of the Week and was one of only six ACC players this season to post back-to-back 25-points games.
He and likely ACC first-team selection Jordan Williams give the Terrapins two great building blocks for next season.
--Sophomore C Jordan Williams got his 22nd double-double, a new school record, eclipsing Len Elmore's 1972-73 mark. He did it with 11 points and 12 rebounds but was obviously still feeling effects of a stomach virus that hit him earlier in the week.
--Senior G Adrian Bowie got his first start in four games and responded with 15 points, including 3-of-6 shooting from 3-point range against Miami. He has scored in double figures in two of his last three games through March 2.
--Freshman G Terrell Stoglin led the Terps with 20 points at Miami, his fourth 20-point game in the last five outings entering Saturday's game against Virginia.
--Senior swingman Cliff Tucker played just seven minutes against Miami. A sometimes explosive scorer, Tucker has scored just 14 points the last four games but it was his tepid defense that got him benched, and got little-used freshman Mychael Parker playing time in the first half.