Maryland should have won in comfortable fashion against Georgia Tech but a furious series of comebacks by the Yellow Jackets turned the last few minutes of the game into a nip and tuck affair. It was another indication that this team has become much tougher than it was in the early part of the season. On the road against a tough team this team held it together in the closing minutes and made enough plays to come away with a win. Besides a one point loss at Virginia Tech that this team should have taken they have won the last three road games at Charlotte, North Carolina and Georgia Tech. That is a very good sign. With at least three road games that should be in play the rest of the year (Boston College, Virginia, Wake Forest) the Terps will need to take a couple of those.
Maryland jumped out to an early lead, those slow starts seem to be a thing of the past for now, and held on for a 10 point halftime advantage. Boom Osby was just a monster on the boards in the first half. Georgia Tech doesn't have a stout defense but does have a few credible post players in Jeremis Smith, Gani Lawal and Alade Aminu. Osby scored 16 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in the 1st half alone. He even had a few nice half hooks to add to his repituare. You may not realize it bu Osby is shooting 77.5% from the free throw line in ACC play with 40 attempts. He had another double-double for his fourth in ACC games and sixth overall. He is a legitimate All-ACC candidate at this point in the season. In the second half his only problem was that his teammates were not able to get him the ball. He only took one field goal the entire 13 minutes he played in the 2nd half. Whatever happens the rest of the season Maryland fans should savor the play of this unlikely hero in Osby.
James Gist had a very solid 14 points and 9 rebounds. He wasn't a significant option in the 1st half with Osby and Landon Milbourne providing most of the offensive punch. Gist is giving consistent performances and is showing more leadership and aggressiveness. There were a number of times he was fouled but nothing was called. Gist and Osby are forming the best front court tandem in the ACC right now.
Landon Milbourne had perhaps his best game as a Terrapin with 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 assists. He is starting to take advantage of his athletic ability and his dunk and block in the closing minutes showed that he is starting to become a reliable option late in a close game. As I've written before his emergence has made Maryland's offense much more potent.
Greivis Vasquez had a pretty poor game. He had 13 points and 9 assists but also had 8 turnovers along with some really terrible shot selection. His 3-point shooting was terrible and he forced things on offense way too often. He went 5/15 from the floor and only hit 50% of his free throws including two critical misses in the final moments of the game. If Bambale Osby had not hit two free throws with 17 seconds left the game may have been forced to overtime after Vasquez missed two in a row and Eric Hayes missed the front end of a one-in-one. It was the kind of dreadful game that you have to live with when it comes to Greivis.
Eric Hayes had a good game with 14 points and 8 assists and hit 2/4 3-point shots. Georgia Tech didn't have the ability to exploit Maryland's sometime weak perimeter defense so Hayes' problems there were not exploited as much. Maryland did have some problems when the Yellow Jackets got out in transition and pushed the ball up the floor after Maryland misses. Paul Hewitt knew that their half court offense wasn't working well and knew they had to push the ball to try for easy scores. The big men and guards for the Terps did a poor job of getting back and stopping the athletic Georgia Tech big men from getting quick outlet passes down the lane.
Once again Hayes and Vasquez played way too many minutes in this game. Hayes played 36 minutes and Vasquez played 37 minutes. That is just too much and it nearly cost Maryland this game like the Duke loss last week. Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie only scored 12 points in just 13 minutes of play with only one turnover, yet they only played two and three minutes each in the 2nd half. Bowie had a clutch 3-pointer with 10 minutes left in the game that pushed the lead back to six points. Gary Williams has paid lip service to reducing the minutes by Vasquez and Hayes but he has not seriously committed to it. As soon as the game gets a little tight he tends to pull his freshmen and go for long stretches with his starters. It will cost this team at some point in the near future if he doesn't do a better job managing the rotation.
I don't understand Gary's obsession with playing Dave Neal. With Osby in some foul trouble he put Dave Neal in the game and he proceeded to commit two fouls and two turnovers in just 7 minutes of play. He simply wasn't a good matchup for Zach Peacock who even I knew was a decent outside shooter. His simply shot right over Neal with 1:45 left in the game to cut the lead to three and then James Gist had to switch on Peacock when Neal wasn't quick enough to get out on him and fouled Peacock for three foul shots. He wasn't a good matchup for any player on Georgia Tech. The fact that Neal is out on the floor probably says more about what Williams thinks about Shane Walker and Braxton Dupree than about Dave Neal being a good bench option. I don't even know what the mystery behind Jerome Burney and Dino Gregory not playing could be at this point. Gary alluded to issues of poor practice on the radio but who knows what might be the reason for that.
The shooting was very good (55%) and the offense sliced apart Georgia Tech's defense with great ball movement in the first half. The defense was once again a little under par and has not been as stellar in the last few weeks as it was earlier in the season. The turnovers were awful. Georgia Tech forced 24 turnovers on 13 steals and scored 25 points off Maryland's miscues. Hayes, Osby and Vasquez accounted for 16 of the 24 turnovers. This will come back to haunt Maryland if they don't take better care of the ball.
Next up, revenge for the Luckie game!