On a night that star Greivis Vasquez was sick with a stomach bug, Clemson led by 15 points after a 19-2 run and starting forwards Jordan Williams and Landon Milbourne picked up two fouls apiece in the first 14 minutes, the Maryland Terrapins had a long uphill climb to pick up their 10th ACC win.
No matter. The Terps, though down nine at halftime, shot 60 percent after the break and roared back against the Tigers, winning 88-79 to solidify their second-place standing in the ACC and bolster their solid résumé for the NCAA tournament.
Vasquez, who averages 18.8 points a game, only scored two points in the first half, but had eight assists to aid sophomore Sean Mosley in his breakout ACC game. Mosley scored 20 points, his career-high in ACC play, including the Terps' first seven points of the game.
Mosley had been enduring a scoring drought that had many wondering whether he should be removed from the starting lineup. He hadn't scored in double digits since Jan. 26 (a streak of seven games) and was held scoreless against Virginia the week before.
My teammates did a great job finding me, Mosley said, and I hit all basically all the shots I took today and I had confidence on the offensive end. [When I made my first two shots] I got the feel for the game early.
Mosley started the year hot, including scoring 26 against Villanova, but despite his offensive regression, head coach Gary Williams continued to play him because of his defense and rebounding, and it paid off offensively Wednesday.
Tonight, he was very aggressive, Williams said. Not just in terms of shooting the ball, but going after it. When you have to the opportunity to score, you have to take advantage of it. That is what Sean did early on and that really helped him all night.
The Terps led 14-12 early in the game, but missed shot opportunities, fouls turnovers, and starters subbing out contributed to Clemson exploding for 15 unanswered points and 19-2 run.
Contributing to Clemson's early lead was their three-point shooting. They made eight in the first half, shooting at a 50 percent clip. In the second half, the Tigers made just three out of their 14 attempts.
Williams disclosed after the game that Vasquez had been dealing with stomach issues, and he had to take something to alleviate his discomfort from Maryland's athletic trainer.
He wasn't feeling good before the game, Williams said. He took some stomach medicine from J.J. Bush. I told J.J. he'd better come up with some pretty good stuff. You know, he's been here 34 years and that's a lot of pressure.
Despite his slow start offensively, Vasquez still managed to dish out eight assists, and finished tying his season-high assist total of 13. Vasquez scored 13 points in the second half, leapfrogging Adrian Branch and John Lucas to become Maryland's fourth all-time leading scorer.
Freshman Jordan Williams continued his run of superb play on both ends of the floor, finishing with 18 points and limiting Clemson star Trevor Booker to just one field goal in the second half.
Williams' streak of double-digit rebound totals ended at three, however. After collecting 11, 11 and 12 in his previous three efforts, he only grabbed five boards on Wednesday.
Vasquez achieved two additional milestones against Clemson: he might have become the first ACC player of the year candidate to mop the floor during a basketball game, and he said he got his first real dunk.
That gets me going. That's who I am, Vasquez said of his foray into the custodial business. That gives me some energy. I didn't have energy in the first half for some reason. I have to mop the floor so I can get a little work so I can get some energy. I have to help out my manager - he's my man.
When the Terps were executing their second half comeback, Vasquez stole the ball from Tanner Smith, took it the length of the court and slammed the ball down on Smith to extend the Terps' lead to 10 and bring the already raucous Comcast Center crowd to a frenzy.
That was the highlight of my career, the first time I get a dunk like that, said Vasquez. I'm so happy about that. I give a lot of credit to my strength coach. He's on my butt every day. Finally I got a real dunk today, so praise the Lord for that.