In the near-silence of Cole Field House, the voice rang out loud and clear: "Leonard, what's goin' on down there?" Lefty Driesell was upset and Len Bias was a little embarrassed. Clemson's Horace Grant had just made two easy layups -- down there -- and Driesell, knowing his team was probably feeling as flat as the crowd, was a bit worried.
No need. Even with 14,500 fans fighting yawns two days after the Terrapins' scintillating victory over Duke, and even with the home team showing little emotion most of the night, Clemson was no match for the Terrapins, never once leading as Maryland scored a 94-84 victory.
Bias had a career-high 27 points. Jeff Adkins, paired in the back court with Keith Gatlin, scored 24, and Adrian Branch had 15 as Maryland raised its ACC record to 3-1 and its overall mark to 13-4. Clemson is now 1-3 in the league and 9-5 in all games.
"I can't remember playing in an ACC game when it was quieter," said Bias. "It just seemed like unless you dunked or something, nobody hollered. We seemed to play on cruise control most of the night."
Cruise control was all the Terrapins really needed. Clemson, under first-year Coach Cliff Ellis, plays a lot of different defenses -- none of them well. Most of the time the Tigers look like a hockey team killing a penalty: one of the opponents is always open. Offensively, Clemson is a jump-shooting team and isn't going to scare anybody on a night when it shoots 44 percent.
The Tigers are even less dangerous when their best player, Vincent Hamilton, hits only six of 15 shots. Hamilton got most of his 15 points after the game was decided. Even though Glenn Corbit scored 18 points for the Tigers, it wasn't nearly enough on a night on which Maryland shot 54 percent, frequently shooting the ball with no Clemson player in the same area code.
"I was happy with the win, but not so happy with the way we played when we got a 15-point lead," said Driesell, who solved his guard problem by starting both Gatlin and Adkins and sitting down Speedy Jones. "We got impatient offensively, when we should have been working the ball inside for good shots."
Actually, the Terrapins got good shots from the beginning. The last tie of the game was at 6. With Adkins picking up where he left off Monday, bombing from outside, Maryland methodically pulled ahead, leading by as many as 10 points before halftime, when it was 45-37. From there, after Clemson closed briefly to 47-43, the Terrapins built the margin to 73-58 with 8:11 to go as Bias, Branch and Adkins hit jump shots from everywhere.
Gatlin, who had been benched for the entire second half against Duke, shot poorly again (two of 10) but was his old self distributing the ball, with 11 assists and just one turnover in 29 minutes. Neither Gatlin nor Adkins knew he was starting until the lineup were announced.
"When they said my name, I thought it was a mistake," Adkins said. "But I looked over at Coach and he said, 'Get on in there.' So I did."
He began shooting shortly thereafter and the game was never in doubt. In fact, it had all the suspense of a Charlie's Angels rerun. "They're a very good basketball team," Ellis said when it was over. "Do they play this well every night?"
They may play better, but they don't shoot much better: Branch was seven for 10, Bias 11 for 14 and Adkins 11 for 15.
Over the years, Clemson has had little luck in this building. It is now 4-35 in College Park and has lost nine straight here and 16 of 18 overall to Maryland. The fans, perhaps still a bit drained from Monday, sensed that Clemson wasn't capable of winning and got so bored at one point that they resorted to the wave.
The only moment of anguish for Driesell came when he inserted his son, Chuck, into the game with an 81-68 lead and 3:43 left to play. As they have done throughout his four-year career, the fans began yelling for the younger Driesell to shoot whenever he touched the ball. Finally, Driesell, the coach and father, turned and waved an angry hand at the fans telling them to cool it.
"It turns my stomach when they do that," Driesell said about the fans screaming at Chuck. "It irritates me. It's degrading to Chuck, our players and myself . . . "
The fact that mock cheers for his son were Driesell's main concern last night says more about this game than anything else possibly can.