After beating Florida State in Tallahassee 71-67 in a nail-biter, all the doubters will fall silent for the time being, as the Terps finally have a road win they can hang their hat on.
After maddeningly sub-par effort from every Terp except freshman phenom Jordan Williams in the loss to Clemson on Sunday, the usual suspects stepped up to provide stability and offense on Thursday when neither were apparent in Clemson.
Senior star Greivis Vasquez scored 23 points to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists. He followed his career-worst nine turnovers on Sunday with five against the Seminoles, but they weren't as debilitating or as prevalent as Maryland overcame them with stout defense and patient offense.
Fellow senior Landon Milbourne contributed 18 points, six rebounds, three blocks and three steals and paced the Terps early as the rest of the team struggled, finishing the first half with only 25 points.
The offense picked up in a big way in the second half, as the Terps scored seven unanswered points out of the gate, facilitated by moving the ball, making the extra pass and finding the open man. The team had 13 assists on 26 field goals, but a good number came in the opening minutes of the second half.
Jordan Williams, fresh off being named ACC rookie of the week last week after scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds against Clemson, played stellar defense all night on FSU center Soloman Alabi, a 7'1 Nigerian sophomore, holding him to 4-15 shooting. Alabi came in shooting 58.8 percent from the field.
This continued a string of outstanding defensive performances by Williams against some of the ACC's best big men. He held Clemson's Trevor Booker to 2-16 shooting and Miami's Dwayne Collins to five points.
Although his stats aren't incredibly impressive (though he's averaging a team-leading eight rebounds a game), his ability to consistently outperform top-flight big men has given the Terps an enormous lift in ACC play. Williams scored 14 against the Seminoles, his highest scoring output in the ACC so far, and highest since scoring 19 against Villanova in early December.
Florida State's Derwin Kitchen would have been the story of the game had the 'Noles managed to win this one, scoring 29 points on 12-16 shooting. He and Alabi were the only Seminoles to reach double figures.
The game was in doubt until the very end, when the Terps' offensive rebounding and free throw shooting took over. When Florida State was reduced to fouling, the Terps made five of their six attempts, and Vasquez made all four of his, including the 70th and 71st points of the game for the Terps.
Sean Mosley, who has emerged as the team's third offensive option, scored only one point in the game, which was the front end of two free throws late. His missed second attempt was Florida State's only attempt to tie in the final minute, with the Terps up 69-66, but coach Gary Williams sagely chose to foul and force FSU to shoot foul shots instead of a potentially game-tying three-pointer.
Chris Singleton, who had the play of the night with a breathtaking chase-down block of Adrian Bowie's failed fast-break layup attempt, made the first but intentionally missed the second free throw, but couldn't hit the rim (he hit just the glass), resulting in a violation and effectively ending their chances once Vasquez, the ACCs sixth-best free throw shooter, was fouled.