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Maryland routs Miami to earn sole possession of first place in the ACC

By Steve Yanda
Thursday, January 28, 2010; D03

Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

Maryland junior guard Adrian Bowie was the first to hit the Comcast Center hardwood, and sophomore Sean Mosley soon followed. They were in pursuit of a loose ball, another Miami turnover and a potential pay-off basket. As was the case for most of Tuesday night's game against Miami, they were not denied.

With Bowie watching from the seat of his pants with just less than eight minutes remaining in the first half -- having furthered the ball downcourt by knocking it out of the hands of a Hurricane player -- Mosley leaped, bounced the ball out of bounds off of Miami guard Durand Scott and fell to the floor. The Terrapins scored on the ensuing possession to push their lead to 15.

Though the Maryland players hit the floor, the visitors from Miami suffered the burn. The Terrapins (14-5, 4-1) dove, slid and scrapped their way to an early lead and then flexed for an 81-59 win. Maryland's effort gave the team sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"I think we just having fun, you know, flying around out there in our pressure defense, and when guys get steals we get the crowd into the game, you know, we have the momentum on our side," said Mosley, who finished with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. "That's one thing that we try to start the game with early, try to get the crowd on our side and getting the energy up. I think the starters right now are doing a great job by coming out and controlling the game."

Maryland led by as many as 21 points during a first half in which the Terrapins quickly disrupted and dismantled Miami's offensive game plan. The Terrapins tallied 16 points off of the 14 turnovers the Hurricanes (15-5, 1-5) surrendered before intermission.

After Maryland began the second half with a 19-8 run, the team's primary task evolved. The Terrapins have defeated three straight ACC opponents by more than 15 points, so the circumstances they dealt with after halftime weren't all that unfamiliar.

Still, Maryland Coach Gary Williams said, there is something to be gained by learning to play while ahead. The Terrapins could afford to be patient on offense, they could afford to allow 20, 25, even 30 seconds to run off the shot clock before looking for a shot. They could watch as their opponent hopelessly tried to prevent the inevitable.

"If you're playing ahead, there's a fine line there with slowing down too much where you get away from what got you the lead, but you don't want to give them the ball quickly where they get a lot of possessions to score," Williams said. "So we came out of the locker room tonight with that in mind, especially coming off of the game at Miami last year. I think we blew a [12]-point halftime lead. I thought about that, and we played very smart with a lead this time."

Senior forward Landon Milbourne and senior guard Greivis Vasquez led four Maryland players in double-digit scoring with 16 points each.

Vasquez passed Lonny Baxter for sixth place on the all-time Maryland scoring list. The Terrapins shot 50.9 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from three-point range.

Miami's leading scorer, 6-foot-8 forward Dwayne Collins, did not start Tuesday night's contest after showing up late for the team bus. It marked the first time Collins failed to start for the Hurricanes since Feb. 17, 2008. He played 24 minutes off the bench and finished the game with five points and 10 rebounds.

The Hurricanes entered the night as one of the top rebounding units in the conference, and yet, it was Maryland swarming to the glass en masse on both ends of the court -- a strategy that has paid considerable dividends thus far in ACC play. The Terrapins claimed the rebounding edge, 35-29, over another opponent that looked imposing on paper.

"We've shown signs of where we're at," Milbourne said. "We come out there and play hard, you know, we've got guys diving on the floor, we're battling on the boards, we're taking the ball to the basket pretty aggressively and getting to the line, so we know where our game is and we know when we're good. We're just trying to do that same formula every night."

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