It took some fantastic outside shooting in the 1st half and determined defense in the 2nd half for Maryland to put away North Carolina in a 92-71. In much the same way that North Carolina jumped on the Terps at Chapel Hill last season with hot perimeter shooting Maryland connected on nine 3-point shots in the 1st half and that was enough to carry them until they were able to make stops in the 2nd half.
Greivis Vasquez may have pulled in front in the race for ACC player of the year with another impressive performance. The senior finished with 26 points and 11 assists while orchestrating the Maryland attack and making critical shots. It was exactly the kind of performance that Maryland fans were hoping for in his final season. Roy Williams didn’t have anyone to match up with Vasquez and that about decided the outcome. While Vasquez did take 23 shots to score 26 points he also distributed the ball with 11 assists including several moments when he could have taken a shot and passed it to a teammate.
Eric Hayes had one of his best games of the season with 16 points on only six field goal attempts hitting four 3-point baskets. He also added four rebounds and five assists to make a very good floor game to go with his scoring. Fellow senior Landon Milbourne had a sluggish first half on offense but had one of his best defensive efforts of the season with 3 blocks and 3 steals against a tall UNC frontcourt. He came on strong in the 2nd half and finished with 15 points on 5/10 shooting and 5 rebounds and outworked the star players for the Tarheels in the paint.
Jordan Williams struggled guarding Dion Thompson at times but had a solid effort against Ed Davis and finished with 8 points and lead the team with 6 rebounds. His frontcourt mate Dino Gregory had another 8 point effort and got all his scores right around the rim. Gregory continues to struggle to limit offensive rebounds as UNC grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. It will be a factor worth watching when Maryland’s hot shooting cools in certain games. The large lead allowed James Padgett to get some minutes as well and he nearly grabbed as many rebounds as Gregory did in less than half the minutes.
Sean Mosley has been in a minor slump and his minutes were take by Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker for a good bit of the 1st half. He didn’t score a point in the half and only played 8 minutes while Bowie played 12 and Tucker played 6 minutes. Mosley got back on track in the 2nd half with 8 points on 4/4 shooting and three assists. It sometimes isn’t clear just how important Mosley is to this team if it aspires to challenge Duke for supremacy of the conference. With two games against Duke looming later this season the Terps will need Mosley’s rebounding and toughness.
Cliff Tucker didn’t play extended minutes but he again showed his proclivity for production against the Tarheels. His 3-point shooting has cooled recently and the junior is only 2/12 since the Boston College game. He was aggressive and engaged in the game for the time he played against UNC and that makes a tremendous difference for a player like Tucker. Adrian Bowie has played a fair amount of minutes recently but has struggled to produce many points so far this season. His defense against the Tarheels was fairly good and he plays much better on both ends of the floor when he plays intense defense. Bowie is struggling with his confidence on offense and is passing up some shots he should otherwise take for himself. He is only 1/11 from the floor in the last three games.
One other interesting note in this game is that Maryland’s press had little effect on North Carolina’s guards. It actually gave UNC several good looks at the basket that they just could not convert into points.
The Maryland students, who made a great atmosphere given the circumstances, probably should not have chanted “NIT, NIT” to North Carolina in the closing moments and Gary Williams himself was not too pleased with that taunt. It is no secret to readers of this blog that I’m not the biggest Roy Williams fan around but he has won two national titles since returning to Chapel Hill. I have no sympathy for North Carolina, they can console themselves with a couple of Final Fours and a National Title the last few seasons if their team ends up in the NIT, but they deserve a little more respect than what they were given. Maryland’s win over North Carolina probably got them into the NCAA tournament last season and saved Maryland from another season ending in the NIT. It is harder these days to get into the NCAA tournament currently than any time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. Billy Donovan won back-to-back titles just a few years ago and might be headed to his third NIT in a row this year. With the Terps struggles since winning their lone championship it probably doesn’t merit such a glib response from the fans when a proud program like Carolina endures some struggles of their own.