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Maryland vs. Clemson

Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page D11

8. Maryland [16-11] vs. 9. Clemson [15-14], Noon

Regular Season Meetings: (at) Clemson 88, Maryland 73, Feb. 1; Clemson 97, (at) Maryland 93, Feb. 22

Leading Scorer: Sharrod Ford, Clemson, 25; Sharrod Ford, Clemson, 24.

Leading Rebounder: Sharrod Ford, Clemson, 10; Sharrod Ford, Clemson, and John Gilchrist, Clemson, 10.

Records in ACC tournament: Maryland, 40-47; Clemson, 13-51.

Vs. each other in ACC tournament: Maryland leads, 9-1.

Back courts: The Terrapins would appear to have the advantage with juniors Chris McCray and John Gilchrist. Clemson features a young starting back court that consists of freshman Cliff Hammonds and sophomore Vernon Hamilton. But this season, Gilchrist has been as impossible to predict as he has been essential to the Terps' offense.

In two losses against the Tigers, Gilchrist has made only 7 of 28 shots. In the second meeting, a 97-93 Clemson victory at Comcast Center on Feb. 22, Gilchrist seemed to be outplayed by Hamilton, who had struggled mightily earlier in the season. McCray, meantime, has been Maryland's most consistent player throughout the season.

Two reserves could play critical roles in determining the outcome of today's game. Maryland's Mike Jones is a streaky player who is not afraid to shoot from several feet beyond the three-point arc, and Clemson's Shawan Robinson has scored 39 points in the two Maryland games, nearly doubling his season average of 10.2.

Front courts: Suitland native Sharrod Ford dominated Maryland in two games, scoring 49 points, blocking 11 shots and grabbing 20 rebounds. Maryland's Travis Garrison and Ekene Ibekwe fouled out of both games.

The Terps will be even more at a disadvantage if James Gist isn't effective because of a bruised knee he suffered in Monday's practice. Garrison and Ibekwe have been extremely unpredictable. Garrison has made only 1 of 7 shots in the past two games, both losses. Against Virginia Tech on Saturday, Garrison played only 10 minutes, making one shot and turning the ball over three times. Ibekwe has tallied 12 fouls and 12 rebounds in his last four games. And Will Bowers has been limited in his effectiveness against the Tigers, collecting seven fouls in 18 minutes.

Coaching/Intangibles: Clemson has had very limited success in the ACC tournament, but Maryland's players won the event last year. That should bode well for the Terps at least in the opening game of the tournament. What's more, it's difficult to beat a team twice in a season, much less three times. Maryland players are adamant about not wanting to be the first group of Terps to miss the NCAA tournament in more than a decade, so expect a desperate effort.

-- Eric Prisbell

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