COLLEGE PARK -- Evers Burns took three stitches above his left eye. Cedric Lewis had a bruise above his right. But it was Clemson, not Maryland, that got knocked out yesterday at Cole Field House.
With Walt Williams providing most of his game-high 29 points from long distance, and with Lewis outplaying Tigers center Dale Davis, the Terrapins blew away Clemson, 81-65, before 8,416 raucous fans.
"If we continue to be consistent on defense, we will be OK," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "A lot was said before the season that we could not be competitive in the ACC. I think that our guys have a lot of pride and used that to motivate them."
The victory, which followed Wednesday night's league-opening loss at Wake Forest, was the fifth in the past six games for Maryland (7-4, 1-1). That it came against Clemson (8-4, 0-2) wasn't as impressive as that it came against one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's top big men.
Lewis, who could be the league's best defensive center, held Davis to a season-low nine points. The 6-foot-11, 235-pound Clemson senior, a first-team ACC player last year, took only three shots in the first half, missed his first five shots and finished the afternoon four of 10 from the field.
"They were playing a sloughing defense," said Davis, who had been averaging 20 points. "There were two or three guys coming at me every time I shot. He [Lewis] played a great game. He's improved a lot this year and has come a long way. He's a good player, and he fits in well with Maryland's team."
Lewis has made significant strides since the season began, especially on offense and at the free-throw line. Along with his 12 rebounds (Davis had a game-high 14) and six blocked shots, Lewis scored 17 points, including 11 of 14 from the foul line. He had no turnovers in 39 minutes.
"Today, I didn't shoot too well [three of 10], but my free throws saved me," said Lewis, a career 46 percent free-throw shooter his first three years. He is 28 of 42 this season. "I feel more confident this year. But I got a lot of help from the teammates defensively."
Two early fouls on Walt Williams forced Maryland out of its man-to-man defense that had caused Clemson to miss its first seven shots from the field, but the Terps were nearly as aggressive in their half-court trap, which helped the Terps build their lead to 39-29 by halftime.
After Maryland led by 12 on its first possession of the second half -- two free throws by Lewis -- the Tigers started to find their range outside and Davis inside. That combination helped Clemson cut its deficit to four points on three occasions, the final time at 50-46 on a short bank shot by Davis with 12 minutes, 19 seconds remaining.
"After they got close, we stopped him [Davis] inside, and their other players couldn't get into a groove shooting outside," Lewis said of Clemson's three-of-15 three-point shooting.
Fortunately for Maryland, Williams did. The junior point guard picked up the touch he left in New York at last week's ECAC Holiday Festival, finishing five of nine from three-point range. Williams didn't score his first two-point basket until a little less than eight minutes were left in the game.
By then, the Terps were on a 15-4 run and would twice build their lead to 18 points. Maryland spent much of the second half at the free-throw line, making 22 of 29 for the half and 30 of 39 for the game. The Terps also held a 43-37 edge on the boards.
"I go into every game confident about my outside shooting," said Williams. "Garfield [Smith] and Cedric and Matt [Roe] set some great picks for me, and I made some shots."
But what won yesterday's game was Maryland's defense. It held the Tigers without a field goal for more than seven minutes during a crucial stretch in the second half. It frustrated Clemson's freshman backcourt of Eric Burks and Andre Bovain into a combined 10 of 33, including one of 10 on three-point shots.
"I think the biggest factor for us was their size on the perimeter, with Williams at 6-8, Roe at 6-6 and [Kevin] McLinton, a big, strong [6-3] kid that really bothered us," said Clemson coach Cliff Ellis, whose team shot 27 of 67 from the field.
Ellis was forgetting about Lewis, who, at 6-9 and 230 pounds, is starting to show signs of becoming a more than respectable big-time college player. That Maryland lost to the Demon Deacons after Lewis got into early second-half foul trouble was no coincidence.
"I think Cedric is a great defensive player and a very good basketball player," said Gary Williams. "Coming back this year, Cedric knew he was going to play a lot. Some guys stay the same as they were for two or three years. Cedric just took on the challenge."
NOTES: Burns had another good game, scoring 10 and pulling down 5 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. . . . Former Dunbar standout Sean Tyson, who was reinstated yesterday after a 2 1/2 -week suspension, had 8 points and 3 rebounds in 15 minutes. Tyson declined to speak about the suspension after the game. . . . Maryland will play UMBC tomorrow night at home.