And with those famous words from Master Yoda, I am officially back for the rest of the season with my weekly column entitled "Courtside Ramblings." How 'bout a round of applause for my apprentice?
But hey, enough Jedi gibberish - there was some good college basketball being played out there last week, too. The Terps finished up the week with a convincing victory over the top-ranked Blue Devils and are now neck-and-neck with Kansas for a #1 ranking overall, which would be the first in Terripan Basketball history. In preparation for the Duke game, Maryland clobbered Georgia Tech by 20 at Cole Field House.
So, with our Terps in position to be the new number one, but their next game still two days away, let's run down some of the stuff that happened last week in the world of college basketball...
Terrapins and Blue Devils, Cole Field House
Maryland's 14 point 87-73 victory over the Blue Devils yesterday gave the Terps its best conference record in history at 11-1 in the ACC. If the terps win out, they will capture their first outright championship in the conference since 1980.
Also, with their win over top-ranked Duke, Maryland may have a chance to leapfrog both Kansas and Duke for their first #1 ranking in any poll ever. This win also marked the seventh time Maryland has defeated the number one team, putting them in fifth place in NCAA history in that category.
The 14-point win over Duke was the largest loss for Duke since March 8, 1998, when Duke lost by 15 to North Carolina. All three of the last double digit losses for Duke, however, have come from the Terps (87-73 on 2-17-02, 91-80 on 2-27-01, 98-87 on 2-9-00).
Worth a bullet point: Maryland's overall record at 21-3 matches the best start in school history. The last time this happened, the Terps earned a trip to the Elite 8 and finished the regular season at 24-5.
The Blue Devils shot only 36% from the floor, 22% from beyond the three-point arc and 50% from the charity stripe. In their last meeting, the Devils shot 51.4% from the floor. And in two of their wins last year against Maryland, Duke shot over 42% in both games. Duke shot 62.7% vs. North Carolina State last week. As a team, opponent's are averaging just 39.4% shooting against the Terripans.
Maryland never trailed in the game vs. Duke yesterday, breaking the "tradition" that, in the last 5 games, the leader of the Duke-Maryland game goes on to lose.
Low sides for Duke: Their 50% free-throw shooting marked the third lowest for the Blue Devils this year, and Duke also committed 18 turnovers yesterday, which doubled the total they committed earlier this year at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Steve Blake's 13 assists marked the 10th time in which he has finished with 9 or more assists this year. He now needs just one lone assist to become Maryland's all-time leader. Blake is currently tied with Keith Gatlin at 649 assists at Maryland.
Chris Wilcox posted his sixth double-double of his career with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Thirteen of Juan Dixon's 17 points came in the second half to extend his streak of double-figure scoring games to 42. Dixon also needs just eight points to become the first NCAA player to tally 2,000 points, 300 steals and 200 made 3-pointers. As of now, Dixon currently has 1,992 points, 315 steals and 205 3-pointers.
Lonny Baxter had 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for his third straight double-double. It was his eighth of the season.
Bryon Mouton had 15 points in the game, marking the sixth straight game he has had double digit scoring.
Maryland's Steve Francis had his number retired at halftime.
Terrapins and Yellow Jackets, Cole Field House
The 85-65 win gave the Terps their best conference start in school history at 10-1. The third-ranked Terripans got their sixth straight 20-win season in the 20-point margin over Georgia Tech on Wednesday.
Their 20-3 record also matches their best start in school history. The '75 Terp team went 24-5 and also got to the NCAA Tournament's Elite 8.
The victory puts Maryland on a seven game win streak. The win at Cole Field House marks the 12th consecutive time Maryland has come away a victor at Cole.
Maryland is 8-0 vs. Georgia Tech at Cole Field House in the last 8 years. The last time Tech won at Cole was on February 5th, 1994.
Maryland outrebounded Georgia Tech in the game by 19, 53-34, their largest rebounding margin in the last two seasons. Maryland has also outrebounded Delaware State, and Florida State, +18 and +17, respectivaly, this year as well.
Lonny Baxter had 22 points and 10 boards for his seventh double-double of the season. His 22 points lead the Terps squad on Wednesday, the sixth time he's led the team in scoring per game.
Chris Wilcox also had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The last time two Terps had double-doubles in the same game was in their 84-63 triumph against Florida State earlier this season.
Juan Dixon extended his streak of double-figure scoring games to 41, but saw his 3-point scoring streak come to an end at 13 games. Dixon needs just 25 points to become the first NCAA player ever with 2,000 points, 300 steals and 200 made 3-pointers.
Point guard Steve Blake had five points and eight assists. He needs just 13 more assists to become Maryland's all-time leader in that category.
Bryon Mouton had 14 points in the game, which marked his fifth straight game in double digit scoring. He now has 12 games with 10+ points scoring in his last 16 games.
They Said It Department
Head Coach Gary Williams on the Maryland-Duke rivalry: "This why you're a college basketball player -- why you go to the ACC -- to play games like this. You can't get these kind of games at every school. You can get them here, though. If this isn't exciting, then something's wrong either as a player, coach or fan."
Head Coach Gary Williams following Maryland's 14 point win over top-ranked Duke: "Our players did a tremendous job in terms of preparation. Their focus [over] the last two days in practice is what you need to play against a team that good with those types of players. With eight minutes left, they thought they could still win that game. I was trying to impress upon my players that we needed to earn that win."
Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski following his heartbreaking loss: "Maryland played an outstanding basketball game. We worked out there. Most of that had to do with Maryland's performance, and their crowd was really great. I thought we were ready to play but we got ahead of ourselves... We got a little bit flustered. You can get away with that if the other team isn't playing well, but Maryland was playing well. They played like a veteran team... Gary [Williams] had his team extremely well-prepared. The team that should have won, won. And they won in convincing fashion."
Head Coach Gary Williams (again) after Maryland's victory over Georgia Tech: "Georgia Tech is one of those teams that has gotten better over the year. I was really impressed by their effort tonight. They really came after us with a lot of people. It was a good win against a good team."
Yellow Jacket Head Coach Paul Hewitt on Maryland's game: "We got beat by a strong, physical team tonight. With 22 offensive boards tonight, it begins and ends there. It's tough to beat anybody [with that deficit on the offensive glass], especially a team the caliber of Maryland."
On their sixth straight twenty win season: "I'll think about it when the season is over. I'm proud of this team. It's not like we snuck up on anybody. I think the expectations were higher on this year's team than last year's team. To see them handle it has been interesting for me as their coach."
On why I think Maryland should be #1: "They're just that good."
Special Thanks Department
All right, gang, turn out the lights because I'm outta here - I'll see you on the flipside with an rundown next Monday and breakdown of Maryland's games vs. Clemson and Wake Forest and a look ahead to our Terps getting back into the swing of things down in The Sunshine State vs. the Semionles of Florida St. In the meantime, make the rest of your Monday a good one.