Maryland prepares to face George Mason

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Maryland prepares to face George Mason

Maryland impressed in their last game, a 77-57 victory over Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Terps simply outclassed the Wildcats in a dominant second half.

Even in a season opening loss to Kentucky, the Terps have looked sharp for most of their non-conference schedule, running to a 5-1 record through November. On Sunday, Maryland should face its last true non-conference test, with a neutral court game against George Mason.

Though Mason plays in the CAA and Maryland the ACC, DC locals and college basketball fans need no introduction to the Fairfax, Va., school. George Mason made its name known across the country in 2006 with a run to the Final Four that included wins over college basketball bluebloods like UConn., Michigan State and North Carolina.

Mason's success came under former coach Jim Larranaga -- who bolted to the University of Miami prior to last season -- but Mason coach Paul Hewitt has plenty of NCAA experience.

As coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hewitt led his 2004 Jackets team to the NCAA championship game. Last season Hewitt led the Patriots to a 24-9 season, though the team was left out of the NCAA Tournament.

This game will be key for Hewitt and Maryland coach Mark Turgeon as they work to guide their teams back into the NCAA Tournament. Non-conference wins play a key part in tournament selection, and a win for either squad would be a boost for their resume come March.

After playing arguably its best 20 minutes of basketball in the second half at Northwestern, the Maryland team has momentum.

Center Alex Len continues to garner serious NBA Draft buzz, while sophomore transfer Dez Wells really showed his capabilities with 23 points against the Wildcats. The Terps look to have depth and frontcourt size befit of a Top 20 team, and a win over an always-pesky Mason squad could show that to poll voters.

Led by junior guard Sherrod Wright, Mason will be a tough opponent for the Terps.

Wright averages almost 15 points on the season, not to mention the 6'4" guard hauls in about five rebounds a game. Mason already registered a win over an ACC opponent earlier this year, beating UVa. in the season opener.

Mason will not come into this game intimidated by the Terps, and it will be interesting to see how Maryland’s young team responds to the challenge.

Maryland should enjoy a noticeable size advantage over the Patriots, who are led down low by 6'8" big man Eric Copes.

With Len at 7'1" and three big forwards in James Padgett, Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare, the Terps can play an aggressive style around the basket. A key to Maryland's early success has been winning the rebounding battle; something the team has done in impressive fashion every game this season.

Mason will have to make outside shots early to free up space in the middle, otherwise Maryland's big men could take over. With Wright at the helm Mason could have the advantage from the outside, though Maryland guard Pe'Shon Howard has been playing improved defense this season.

With a vocal crowd expected and fans of both schools on hand at the Verizon Center, the game could resemble an early-round NCAA Tournament matchup. A preview of a postseason experience both teams would like to achieve. 

Terps jump to No. 22 in national AP Top 25 poll

Terps jump to No. 22 in national AP Top 25 poll

Maryland basketball keeps moving on up.

After landing the last spot in the AP’s Top 25 last week, the Big Ten-leading Terps (17-2 overall, 5-1 Big Ten) continue their climb in the ranks, now sitting at No. 22 as of Monday. However, despite the conference standings, they're still behind No. 15 Wisconsin (16-3, 5-1) and No. 20 Purdue (16-4, 5-2).

Heading into Tuesday’s home matchup against Rutgers, Maryland is riding a four-game win streak with its last loss on Jan. 1 against Nebraska (9-10, 3-4).

Since cracking the Top 25, the Terps played one game last week — an 84-76 win over Iowa (11-9, 3-4) on the road with junior guard Melo Trimble leading the way with 20 points.

Freshman forward Justin Jackson also made waves last week, netting 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds, earning him the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week honor, the conference announced Monday.

Maryland takes on the Scarlet Knights (12-8, 1-6) on Tuesday at the XFINITY Center at 7 p.m.

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Virginia Tech deals Clemson its 6th consecutive ACC loss

Virginia Tech deals Clemson its 6th consecutive ACC loss

CLEMSON, S.C. — Seth Allen scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half as hot-shooting Virginia Tech held off Clemson 82-81 on Sunday, sending the Tigers to their sixth straight Atlantic Coast Conference loss.

The Hokies (15-4, 4-3 ACC) shot 60.9 percent (14 of 23) in the second half and 54.7 percent overall to win for the third time in the past four games. Allen made five of his six shots — including three 3-pointers — in the final 20 minutes and had a critical steal with 90 seconds left to keep Virginia Tech out front.

The Tigers (11-8, 1-6) appeared to take the lead down 70-69 as Jaron Blossomgame's shot with 3:48 left was rolling around and ready to fall in when teammate Sidy Djitte, attempting a tip in, knocked it away.

Chris Clarke soon followed with a three-point play and Allen hit a crushing 3-pointer with 29 seconds left to seal things for the Hokies.

Clemson got within 80-78 with 5.9 seconds left on Blossomgame's 3-pointer. But Justin Bibbs hit two foul shots to seal things.

Blossomgame and Avry Holmes had 20 points each for Clemson, whose ACC losing streak is its longest since dropping seven straight to end the 2012-13 season.

Holmes hit a 3-pointer for Clemson as time ran out to end the scoring.

Zach LeDay had 16 points and Ahmed Hill had 11 for the Hokies.

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