COLLEGE PARK -- Short of renting out Madison Square Garden for its home games, the University of Maryland will settle for the next best thing: continuing to play at Cole Field House.
The Terrapins will be looking to extend their eight-game home-court winning streak when they play host to Clemson (8-3, 1-0) today in a 1 p.m. Atlantic Coast Conference game.
"I really don't want to put any pressure on us, but I don't think anybody can beat us at Cole Field House," senior center Cedric Lewis said yesterday.
Nobody has in a while. Maryland (6-4, 0-1) hasn't lost in four non-conference games this season. Its most recent loss at home was 114-111 in overtime to Duke last season.
When asked about the home-court advantage, Maryland coach Gary Williams said: "I think it's bigger in basketball than in football. You're more comfortable. The crowd can keep you in a game or bring you back."
The crowd is likely not to be much of a factor this afternoon. The combination of winter break and the Washington Redskins-Philadelphia Eagles playoff game could keep the attendance under 5,000.
The biggest factor for the Terps will be their ability to stop Clemson center Dale Davis. Davis, a 6-foot-11, 225-pound senior, is arguably the best big man in the ACC.
"They have had some problems," Williams said of the Tigers, who have been playing without Wayne Buckingham and, until his 2 1/2 -week suspension was lifted yesterday, without Sean Tyson. "But Dale Davis is our problem."
Clemson coach Cliff Ellis said that his team, which includes five freshmen, showed some positive signs in a 74-70 loss Wednesday night at North Carolina State.
"We played pretty well. We just missed a dunk and they hit a three-point shot at the end," said Ellis, whose team won the ACC regular-season championship last year. "But we play a lot of young guys. That's the biggest thing."
Coming off its ECAC Holiday Festival championship at the Garden, Maryland played well in spurts against Wake Forest. But 33 percent shooting (21-for-63) and foul trouble to Lewis and Kevin McLinton were the Terps' downfall.
"We have to run our offense better in order to get better shots," said Williams.
Said Matt Roe, "We played hard, but we couldn't put the ball in the rim."
Roe is having problems shooting. Seemingly out of a slump in Maryland's most recent home game -- 8-for-15 against Lafayette -- Roe has gone into a slump that bottomed out with a 1-for-12 performance against the Demon Deacons.
Maybe the return to Cole Field House will help.
"Everyone likes to play at home," said Roe. "You're never the underdog at home."