After trailing for most of the game, and by as many as nine points in the first half, Maryland came back with a zone defense and Ernest Graham's 20 second-half points for a 77-63 victory over Clemson tonight.
Debris flew from the stands of Littlejohn Coliseum as starting Clemson forwards Larry Nance and Marvin Dickerson were whistled out of the game, combining for only 35 minutes between them.
Nance left with 11 minutes left in the game, at the beginning of a 10-0 Maryland streak that gave the Terrapins their first lead at 45-44 and enabled them to switch to a 3-2 zone that stymied the depleted Tigers.
The victory was Maryland's second conference win on the road and third of four overall in the ACC. The 19th-ranked Terps, whose per capita talent far exceeded Clemson's, rose to 12-4 overall with a key game Saturday at Cole Field House against league leader North Carolina.
Clemson fell to 10-4 overall and 1-3 in the ACC.
Graham scored 20 of his game-high 25 points in the second half when, he said, "we woke up and realized we were not playing the worst team in the league."
Clemson led, 44-41, five minutes into the second half when the key streak began, with a Graham 20-footer from the top of the key. Billy Williams missed an open 15-footer for Clemson. Al King rebounded and rifled a Roger Staubach pass to Graham for a layup and the first Maryland lead.
The Terps went into their 3-2 zone and that was the end of it. Clemson lost ball twice and missed a shot. Reggie Jackson pumped in a 20-footer, Graham hit two free throws and Larry Gibson took a soft lob pass from King at the wing for an easy layup and a 51-44 lead.
The Terps later fattened the lead to 57-47 with a four-point possession, the result of a technical on Dickerson, whose crime was to complain about fouling out.
"In the first half," said Clemson Coach Bill Foster, "we put on a clinic with our execution. Everything we got was wide open. But we suffered in the second half when we had to go so deep into our bench. I saw three guys playing for us I've never seen before. Then Maryland throws up that zone with guys 6-7, 6-8, 6-9 -- it gets dark down there.
"The zone works against us because we're not good shooters. That's kind of it in a nutshell."
Maryland also had foul trouble, playing without King and Gibson for the last 3 1/2 minutes. King hit just one of eight from the floor and finished with four points, but his seven rebounds and five assists hid his offensive dropoff.
Greg Manning, who has been moved from point guard, came off the bench to score 15 points and Gibson added 15. Buck Williams, who completely unraveled the Tigers with two stirring slam dunks in the second half, had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Guard Billy Williams led Clemson with 16 points and fellow starting guard Bobby Conrad had 10.
"This is a terrific win for us," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell. "When you win by 14 points on the road you've got to be pleased. When we went to the zone it really threw them off.
"LG (Gibson) played well, and Manning, and our two freshmen point guards, Dutch Morley and Reggie Jackson. And even though Al King had a horrible night offensively, he played a key part in our win, handling Billy Williams on the wing and rebounding and helping to run our offense.
"Who did I forget?
"Oh, Ernest. (Driesell laughs). He can put it in the hole as good as anyone I've coached. He's not afraid to put it up and when he does, he generally makes it."