If this is what the Terrapins do on a short turnaround, watch out, N.C. State.
Maryland bounced back from a 21-point loss at Duke Saturday with an important 85-66 victory over Virginia Monday. It's part of a grueling, snow-caused, four-games-in-nine days stretch for Maryland (17-7 overall, 7-3 ACC).
The Terps travel to State for a Wednesday showdown and a chance to stay on the two-loss Blue Devils' heels. Maryland's schedule got a bit convoluted when the second big local snowfall of February forced the postponement of the Virginia game, originally scheduled for Feb. 10.
"There's not much time to practice and get things better," said coach Gary Williams. "It was more of the players getting mentally focused and being ready for the game tonight. I wasn't sure how we would be mentally or physically because of the short turnaround, and now we have to do it again to play N.C. State on Wednesday."
In fact, the Terrapins will have had three games in five days before coming back home to play Georgia Tech on Feb. 20. Three of Maryland's last six games are at home in the Comcast Center, where the Terps are 12-1 this season.
Any reasonable projection of Maryland's play down the stretch has the Terrapins with 20 wins and looking solid for an NCAA Tournament berth, something that didn't seem quite so probable before the start of ACC play.
Maryland has gotten player-of-the-year caliber play out of senior guard Greivis Vasquez, though, and freshman big man Jordan Williams continues to improve, posting a double-double against Virginia while going head-to-head with Cavaliers big man Mike Scott.
Lithe Landon Milbourne, the 6-7 power forward, continues to be a matchup nightmare for opponents and might be one of the ACC's most underrated performers. Senior guard Eric Hayes is a steadying influence and swingman Sean Mosley is a defensive stopper, though he got into a bit of foul trouble guarding Sylven Landesburg, Virginia's talented 6-6 guard.
Cliff Tucker gave the Terps a huge lift off the bench, offensively and defensively, and Maryland is deeper and more talented than last season.
They'll have to prove it again on little rest, though.
MARYLAND 85, VIRGINIA 66: Greivis Vasquez scored a season-high 30 points to lead the Terrapins as they bounced back from the loss at Duke, their worst of the season. Vasquez had 25 points in the first half as Maryland shot 70 percent from the field and rang up a 52-34 lead, the most points defense-minded Virginia had allowed in a half. Landon Milbourne bounced back from a two-point effort at Duke with 14 points, and Eric Hayes chipped in 10 points and a season-high nine assists. Freshman center Jordan Williams had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
--Maryland managed a brief second-half comeback, but a slow start doomed the Terrapins in a big game at Duke.
In a showdown of league leaders on Feb. 13, the Blue Devils jumped out to a double-figure lead less than seven minutes into the game and never let the Terps get the difference down to single digits the rest of the way.
Maryland trimmed Duke's 22-point lead early in the second half to 10 midway through the period, but Duke responded with nine consecutive points to erase any doubts.
"At the start of the game we didn't come out tough enough to run our offense, took some bad shots, which was a combination of Duke playing good defense and our not being able to run our offense," coach Gary Williams said. "We weren't really in sync, and you cannot do that here.
"You have to be really ready to play and everything has to go your way and things like that, and we didn't play well enough. Basically that was the game."
--Maryland entered the Virginia game second in the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage (.466) and attempted a season-low eight shots from behind the arc. The Terps were still efficient, though, hitting four of eight from deep.
--G Greivis Vasquez had a hard time getting started at Duke. He was only 1-of-5 from the field in the first half against the Blue Devils but finished 7-of-12 for 17 points. He had four assists and three turnovers for the game.
--The Terrapins had no answer inside for Duke's 7-1 Brian Zoubek, who had a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds. The Terps got only a combined 13 points and 16 rebounds from forwards Landon Milbourne, Jordan Williams, Dino Gregory and James Padgett.
Duke dismantled the Maryland offense Saturday, the Blue Devils' size wreaking havoc. Crashing the offensive boards, Duke took away the Terrapins' transition game, and on the other end the Blue Devils effectively double-teamed Greivis Vasquez every time he had the ball below the foul line, taking away his shot, his penetration and his passing angles. While Vasquez finished with 17 points and Cliff Tucker came off the bench to score 12, the rest of the Maryland offense flat-lined.
The Terps got back on track against normally stingy Virginia, shooting 70 percent in the first half and 56 percent for the game. The Terrapins were so efficient, they failed to score on only nine first-half possessions. Vasquez led the way with 30 points, 25 in the first half as he set the pace in one of his top performances.
The rest of the team followed suit, Landon Milbourne, Eric Hayes and Jordan Williams all bouncing back from subpar efforts at Duke to score in double figures against Virginia.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't worry about that. You worry about the next game. That's the only way that you can do it." -- Coach Gary Williams, asked about the difficulty of playing three games over a five-day period.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Maryland dropped behind Virginia Tech in the ACC standings with the loss at Duke. The Terps then beat Virginia to improve to 7-3. They are 17-7 overall and, barring a major collapse, should make it back to the NCAA field.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Landon Milbourne, F Jordan Williams, G Eric Hayes, G Sean Mosley, G Greivis Vasquez. Key Subs -- F Dino Gregory, F James Padgett, G/F Cliff Tucker, G Adrian Bowie.
Maryland 71, Florida State 67
Maryland 92, North Carolina 71
Duke 77, Maryland 56
Maryland 85, Virginia 66
at North Carolina State, Wednesday, Feb. 17
vs. Georgia Tech, Saturday, Feb. 20
vs. Clemson, Wednesday, Feb. 24
at Virginia Tech, Saturday, Feb. 27
IN FOCUS: The Terrapins looked sharp against Virginia, but fatigue could be a factor at N.C. State just two days later.
--Senior guard Eric Hayes has hit 20 consecutive free throws dating to Jan. 3. He had a season-high nine assists against Virginia.
--Junior Cliff Tucker, averaging 6.0 ppg off the bench this season, has raised his game recently with 26 points (8.7 average) the last three games, including 12 at Duke. Tucker hit a big three to help squelch a Virginia second-half rally.
--Greivis Vasquez recently became Maryland's all-time leader in three-point field goal attempts, passing Juan Dixon's (1999-2002) mark of 615. Vasquez has 625. He needs 31 three-pointers made to pass Dixon's career mark of 239.