ATLANTA, FEB. 2 -- Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams undoubtedly will make it clear to his players that efforts like the one that resulted in Friday night's 80-65 Atlantic Coast Conference loss to Georgia Tech are unacceptable.
"This will never happen again," Williams said of his team's start against the No. 24 Yellow Jackets. "This team has to play hard from the start. What happened here wasn't our style because we didn't compete defensively."
Maryland scored the first basket of the game after 11 seconds, but didn't get another point for more than four minutes, giving up 18 straight during the span.
Down by 27-6, the Terrapins got two consecutive baskets, the last coming at 9:43, but then didn't get another field goal until 7:05 remained in the half. And then they didn't get another point until 2:57 was left.
By halftime, Maryland had hit just 21 percent of its shots from the field, scored an anemic 18 points and trailed by 25.
"We just didn't start playing until after the first 10 minutes. No one scored. The shots wouldn't fall. It was definitely the worst half we've played this year," said Matt Roe, who scored a game-high 25 points.
"This was a game that you just forget about."
Maryland did make things respectable after intermission, cutting the deficit to 13 on three occasions, the first coming with just over six minutes remaining, the last with 1:19 to play.
In a sense, the Terrapins' hard work in the second half only increased the frustration brought on by the poor start. There have been a number of occasions over the course of the season when it appeared Maryland (12-8, 2-5) had fully grasped Williams's message.
There were the wins over Rutgers and then-12th-ranked South Carolina in December's ECAC Holiday Festival championship. A week ago, the Terrapins beat North Carolina State, 104-100. There even was evidence of the Terps' determination when they rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final four minutes to beat American, 72-69, on Tuesday.
But the latter two victories came at Cole Field House and the first pair were on the neutral floor of Madison Square Garden. Very rarely has the team given an equally intense effort on an opponent's home court.
Maryland rallied from a 19-point deficit at South Florida two weeks ago, but the team played poorly in falling that far behind.
Besides, said guard Kevin McLinton, "beating South Florida is one thing; playing a really good team like Georgia Tech and trying to come back from that hole is asking a lot, and we just couldn't do it."
It's incumbent upon Maryland to quickly rectify the situation, because its next game, Wednesday night at Clemson, may be its best chance of gaining a conference road victory. The Tigers, regular-season champions a year ago, are winless in the ACC thus far.
"I think we put ourselves in position to win the game in the second half, and even though we didn't that's something to look positively on," McLinton said. "This team has come together and done a lot of things that people haven't expected. We'll get over this one too."