Although leading scorer Ernest Graham was shut out, Maryland ended its three-game losing streak yesterday by defeating Clemson, 77-69, at Cole Field House.
The Terps won by playing team offense and good defense and by getting Clemson's best player in foul trouble. And, for the first time in 10 games, Al King stepped from behind his curtain of anonymity and led Maryland in scoring with 19 points.
The relocation and subsequent play of forward-turned-center Larry Nance had been the key factor in Clemson's six-game winning streak coming into the Atlantic Coast Conference game.
But moments after Clemson had taken a 47-43 lead with 14:38 remaining, Nance picked up his third and fourth fouls and took a seat with Maryland ahead, 49-47.
The score was tied three more times before King teamed with Maryland's other hero, reserve guard Greg Manning, to put the game out of reach.
At 53-53, Manning took a magnificent King pass and scored a reverse layup off a fast break. After Jim Wells missed a shot for Clemson, King closed in on Maryland's basket to rebound his own missed shot. Maryland then attempted four more shots before King's perseverance paid off with a tip-in and a fifth foul on Nance, who had just re-entered the game.
King hit the free throw to put Maryland up, 58-53. With Nance gone, the lead quickly swelled to 67-57 on a three-point play by Buck Williams, four points from Larry Gibson and two points and an assist from King.
Without Nance, Clemson could pull no closer than six the rest of the way.
Manning, who again started at point guard in the second half in place of Reggie Jackson, had 18 poinys. He hit eight of 10 shots and scored 12 points the second half.
The Terps had played sloppily the first half and were booed at its end after committing 13 turnovers. Still, they led, 31-30, mostly because of Clemson's 42.4 percent shooting. Gibson added 16 points and nine rebounds for maryland, moving into 10th place on the Terps' all-time scoring list with 1,107 points.
Williams had 15 points and nine rebounds and King dished out four assists to go with his 19 points and made up for his seven turnovers.
Graham missed all four shots and played only 17 minutes. He had four assists, but appeared to have lost his radar-like shooting touch. He has been told by Coach Lefty Driesell to look inside more for open teammates and to stop launching his 25-foot prayers.
Certainly no one was more frustrated than Graham, who had scored in double figures in every previous game.
"Once you start shooting and scoring, people say you're shooting too much," Graham said. "after a while it is too much.
"Maybe in a while when the other guys start doing their jobs better I won't have as much (attention) on me and I'll get out of it. I hope so. It is not easy. Our crowd doesn't cheer as loud as the crowds at the places where we go. There's not a lot of help."
"This was the best offensively controlled game we've played all year," said Manning. "we didn't change anything. This is the way we should be playing. This is what we practice. We got a win -- finally."
The victory, Maryland's first since upsetting top-ranked Notre Dame two weeks ago, increased its overall record to 15-8. The Terps are 4-5 in the ACC with conference games left against Duke, Wake Forest and Virginia.
Clemson, like Maryland, is warming up for the ACC tournament March 1-3 and dipped to 16-6, 4-5 in the conference.
This was Maryland's second victory this season over Clemson, but the earlier decision at Littlejohn Coliseum was triggered by the Terp zone defense.
Maryland prevailed yesterday by playing aggressive man-to-man and scrapping the zone that had failed early in the game.
"Lefty did a smart thing by going back to 'man' and staying with it," said Clemson Coach Bill Foster. "If he had gone back to zone, we could have slowed the game up and maybe gotten back in it.
"We feel most of the time we can get the shots we want against their 'man' defense. But they played 'man' well today.
"From our standpoint, the two things that determined the outcome were that we missed so many good scoring opportunities in the first 28 minutes, when we were getting great shots.
"Then, when Nance fouled out, we have to go with someone who's either slower, like Bill Ross, or smaller, like Cubby (Wells). We kinda need Nance in there."
King said he was "moving a little more" and that his shots "were just going down."
Without him, Maryland would have been in trouble, as the team still seemed hesitant and was plagued by poor passing.
"The team is frustrated. We're missing baskets and passes just by inches," said guard Dutch Morley. "Maybe a win will help."