Instant Analysis: Clemson 59, Maryland 72
How it happened: Maryland cruised to a double digit win with balanced scoring and strong rebounding. Jake Layman and Shaquille Cleare both reached double figures in scoring while Nick Faust paced the Terps with 18 points.
This may have been Faust’s strongest performance as a Terp this season. Bouncing between positions, the Baltimore product has been forced to play point guard this season despite being a natural slasher. Faust shows plenty of potential and can be a key cog for the Terps when playing his best, taking shots within the offense and not forcing poor attempts. Not only did Faust score, but he also accounted for three assists, three steals, one block and one rebound.
Maryland needed a good showing after Tuesday night’s disappointing loss to Boston College. The Terps showed that while they struggle on the road, the team can be a force playing in the friendly confines of Comcast Center.
Ball don’t lie: Maryland has not necessarily excelled at the 3-point shot this season, but against Clemson the Terps shot well. Nick Faust started hot and kept it going, making four of seven attempts from deep, and Jake Layman added two threes. The Terps connected on 40 percent of their 3-point attempts.
Don’t mess with Texas: Shaquille Cleare played his most complete game this season for Maryland. The big man from the Bahamas, by way of Houston, scored 10 points and hauled in six rebounds. This marks Cleare’s first double digit scoring game since a December win over lowly Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Perhaps as a prelude to next season, Terps coach Mark Turgeon played Cleare with fellow freshman Charles Mitchell much more in this game than in the past. Normally Alex Len gets the bulk of the minutes at center, but Cleare and Mitchell proved to be a strong team in the paint. With Len possibly headed to the NBA after this season, it makes sense for Turgeon to get Mitchell and Cleare accustomed to playing together.
From bad to worse: Free throws have been a struggle for Maryland all season, but against Clemson the foul shooting was particularly bad. Maryland ended the game shooting 37 percent from the stripe, going just 6 for 16.
Poor free throw shooting has haunted Maryland in previous games, and another performance like today’s could well cost the Terps against a better opponent.
What happens next: Wednesday night Maryland travels to Atlanta to face off with Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are one of the weaker teams in the ACC this season, but as Maryland proved last Tuesday at Boston College, this Terps team can lose to just about anyone on the road.
Maryland has four games remaining; at Georgia Tech, at Wake Forest, North Carolina at home on March 6, and at Virginia to close the season. For a chance at the NCAA Tournament, the Terps will likely need to win them all.