With students moving in this weekend and the spring semester about to start, a sold-out Comcast Center was absolutely electric from start to finish. Greivis Vasquez scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half, highlighted by two of his signature shimmies after 3-pointers, and Landon Milbourne finished with 18 to lead the Terps.
The crowd was great, said freshman Jordan Williams. It's like a sixth man is out there with us.
Williams had one of his best games Saturday evening, with 9 points and 9 rebounds, but his real impact wasn't represented in his numbers. Maryland controlled the paint throughout, despite NC State's star, Tracy Smith, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Terps outscored the Wolfpack in the paint 36 to 22, and much of that had to do with Williams' outstanding effort on defense.
To play against a guy like Smith is a big step in his basketball education, head coach Gary Williams said. Williams coached in his 1,000th career game, but was more concerned with the Terps' win afterwards.
Winning's the greatest, Williams said. That's what keeps you in the business, the feeling you get after a win. You have to lose a few to appreciate winning.
Vasquez, the Terps' leader in scoring and assists, only attempted three shots in the first half, but set up his teammates and the offense as the Terps jumped out to a 10-point lead in only seven minutes.
Greivis Vasquez is showing his maturity in letting the game come to him, Williams said.
After a highly-criticized performance in the Terps' only ACC loss at Wake Forest, Vasquez has played more unselfish basketball, but has still remained aggressive.
I was trying to everybody involved, Vasquez said of his first half scoring drought, Being a good leader, a good point guard.
In addition to Vasquez, Williams and Milbourne, the Terps got great production from their bench, most notably Cliff Tucker.
Tucker, a junior, struggled to get on the floor consistently during his first two and a half years as a Terp, despite standout performances against North Carolina. However, in recent games, he's gotten regular playing time and delivered.
He scored 11 against NC State, and was the main player stepping up when Vasquez wasn't scoring in the first half, hitting his first three shots from the floor, each time jolting the crowd with energy.
Dino Gregory also contributed significantly off the bench, tallying eight points and six rebounds. He also dove on the floor for a loose ball under the basket, and slammed home the dunk of the night after an offensive rebound.
Sean Mosley scored 13 points, eight of which came from the foul line. In all, the referees called 37 fouls in the game.
The Terps move into a tie atop the ACC standings with unheralded Virginia. Both teams' only loss is against Wake Forest. Despite the exciting news of being number one in their conference, Williams and the Terps know that their job is just beginning.
We're pretty level-headed this year, Williams said. We've played four, we have 12 left to go.
His players share the same mentality and are focused on the task at hand - turning first place right now into winning later in March.
We can't get too happy right now, Vasquez said. We can't get too low. We have to be right in the middle.