In last year's agonizing season, the most agonizing loss for Maryland might have come on Feb. 4, when the Clemson Tigers came to Cole Field House.

"That was one where we came so close," said Maryland Coach Bob Wade.

Maryland went ahead, 79-77,on a basket by Derrick Lewis with 18 seconds left, but the lead evaporated as Michael Brown hit a three-point shot with eight seconds left. When Dave Dickerson's three-point attempt with two seconds left fell away, so did Maryland's hopes for an upset.

"Sure, it was great to know we were right there at the end, but we really thought we had one for a moment," Wade said.

The Terrapins, having already won their first Atlantic Coast Conference game, will have another shot at the Tigers today when the teams meet at 1:30 at Cole Field House.

Maryland (8-3, 1-0) will be without freshman forward/center Cedric Lewis, who has mononucleosis, according to Wade. Lewis, who has missed the last five games, will be out indefinitely because of an enlarged spleen, which is a symptom of the illness. If an enlarged spleen received a sharp blow, it could rupture and require emergency surgery.

The Terrapins are coming off a 93-85 loss Wednesday night at Missouri. The Tigers (7-3, 0-1) are coming off a 70-61 loss at North Carolina State.

The Tigers, who will play their third road ACC game Sunday at Virginia, are still seaching for consistency as a group.

"They were either terrible or great -- no in-between," Clemson Coach Cliff Ellis said of the Tigers' preconference opponents in a schedule that included a trip to Taiwan to play Oregon State, and to South Florida, to play Michigan in a tournament. "There might have been a few jitters in their system in a couple of those tests."

Clemson was 25-6 last year, 10-4 in the ACC.

Before he decided to play for Maryland, Terrapins point guard Rudy Archer had considered Clemson.

"Coach Wade has certainly brought in some great players in a short period of time," Ellis said. "The Archer kid is a good leader. We wanted him in our program very much. {Tony} Massenburg, Rudy Archer, Keith Gatlin, Brian Williams . . . I can go on and on. They seem to play with a lot of confidence."

Grayson Marshall probably was one reason Acher didn't choose Clemson. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior, who played at St. John's in the District, was second in the ACC (to Wake Forest's Tyrone Bogues) in assists and 15th in the nation with an average of 7.4 per game, while averaging 6.1 points per game. This season he is averaging 7.5 points and 7.5 assists and is 32 assists away from being the all-time leader in the conference.

"Grayson Marshall is the key to our basketball team," Ellis said. "His leadership will have a lot to say in how successful we are this year. He puts us in our offense and our defense, and he's trying to do on the court what the coaches are trying to do on the bench. He is trying to be patient with them because we do have 11 freshmen and sophomores . . . Our wing players did not have a minute of ACC experience coming into the season."

Last year, there was an experienced and talented group to catch his passes. Horace Grant, who was picked in the first round by the Chicago Bulls, led the ACC last year in scoring (21.0 average for all games), rebounding (9.6) and field goal percentage (65.6).

This season, Elden Campbell has picked up inside where Grant left off. Campbell is leading the ACC in scoring with a 20.7 average, and he is hitting 71.1 percent from the floor.

Maryland, too, needs time for its team to jell, said Dickerson. "We're still young in terms of playing together," he said. "We have great players but we have long way to go."

Elsewhere, Virginia will be at home to face Duke, the Colonial Athletic Association schedule gets underway as Navy goes to Richmond to face the Spiders, George Mason will be at Patriot Center to play East Carolina and American plays William and Mary in Williamsburg.

Howard will be at home against North Carolina A&T.