Coming off its most emotional win in several years Thursday night, Maryland could not get itself emotionally revved up to play Clemson today.
The result was a 90-81 victory for the Tigers, the Atlantic Coast Conference's Jekyll-Hyde team -- unbeatable at home (6-0), hapless on the road (1-4).
The victory, Clemson's first in eight games against Maryland, puts the Tigers in sole possession of second place in the ACC with a 7-4 record, 17-5 in all games. Seventh-ranked Maryland is still in the league driver's seat with a 9-2 record, 17-4 overall. The Terps have a two-game lead over clemson with three games to play -- two of them at home.
"We played our worst game of the season," said Ernest Graham, only three of 12 for a season-low six points. "It has to get to you a little mentally and physically to play two games so close together when you've got five guys playing 35 minutes or better.
"Give them credit, though, they're a great team in here."
The Tigers were excellent from the start. After the crowd spent the pregame warmup giving Maryland the silent treatment, it erupted just before the opening tap.
That seemed to give the Tigers impetus for the first half.After a three-point play by Buck Williams gave the Terrapins their last lead, 13-12, six minutes into the game, Clemson took off on a 10-0 run that put it in control for good.
"We weren't into out offense at all the first half," said Coach Lefty Driesell, who refused to blame the loss on a letdown after Thursday's 70-69 squeaker over North Carolina. "We were just coming down and putting up the first shot available. We weren't patient and that got us in a hole."
The hole was 44-36 at halftime and the Terps never caught up in the second half. It marked the first time since Georgetown -- 18 games ago -- that the Terps have trailed for an entire second half.
"We really played a great game as a team," said Clemson Coach Bill Foster, who wore the same red sweater he wore the last time Clemson beat Maryland, in 1977. "We moved the ball well and we executed well on offense. That's the key to beating Maryland."
In addition to his sweater, Foster made one other significant move -- benching center John (Moose) Campbell, moving Larry Nance to center and putting the quicker Fred Gilliam at foreward in Nance's spot.
The move paid off. Nance, shooting a variety of hooks and jumpers, had 24 points and the Tigers' other starting forward, Horace Wyatt, had 22 as did guard Billy Williams -- perhaps the league's most underrated player.
Maryland, usually balanced on offense, was forced to depend on Williams and Albert King for all its offense. Graham was cold and the Terps couldn't get the ball to deadeye Greg Manning (five of eight, 12 points). King, with 29 points, and Williams with a career-high 27 and 13 rebounds, kept the Terps in the game.
A dunk by Williams off a King miss with 13 minutes left pulled the Terrapins to within 55-53 and Clemson looked as if it might fold.
But it didn't. Michell Wiggins canned a jumper, King answered with two foul shots. Then Billy Williams bombed a 20-footer and followed with a 12-footer -- one of many jump shots he made off of Clemson's quick-breaking transition offense.
Wiggins' free throw got the lead back to 62-55 and Driesell called time with 10:26 left.
"We want to try and push the ball up court to keep them from getting set up defensively," Billy Williams said. "They've been playing real good defense all year and we knew it would be to our advantage to keep them from getting set."
Additionaly, by leading virtually the entire game, the Tigers prevented Maryland from using its 2-3 zone which has been so effective. Every time Driesell ordered the zone, Foster directed point guard Bobby Conrad to hold the ball out. Trailing, the Terps had to come out in man-to-man and chase.
Still, in spite of the problem and the fatigue, the Terps hung tough.
A King follow shot with 4:27 left cut the margin to 73-69 and Foster quickly popped a 15-footer for a 76-69 lead. King came back with two foul shots and then Foster ordered the stall.
"We just couldn't make the plays against their spread, they ran it real good," Driesel said. "I thought our comeback was a good one but we couldn't catch them at the end."
The Tigers were perfect in the stall. Wyatt, whose 22 points was a career high, dunked off a Conrad pass for a 77-71 lead with 3:17 left. Williams cut it to four again with a short hook but that was the last time the Terps were that close.
The Tigers ran the clock down to 1:59 before Nance was fouled and made both shots. King missed a jumper and Clemson's Williams went the length of the court for a spinning left-handed layup with 1:40 to go. Graham missed at the other end and fouled Nance going for the rebound with 1:21 left. Nance made one of two free throws to make it 82-73 and it was over.
Absolutely. The Tigers shot 57 percent and had only 12 turnovers to Maryland's 19. They earned the win and kept their record perfect in this 10,700 seat coliseum.
Today, the Tigers were Dr. Jekyll and the Terps just didn't have a cure for their solid performance.