Loss at Clemson brings Terps back to earth

February 24, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

In summing up Maryland's two-game trip to Duke and Clemson, junior point Kevin McLinton put it best.

"One night we were one of the best teams in the ACC, but tonight we stunk," McLinton said Saturday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Two days after nearly beating the top-ranked Blue Devils in Durham, N.C., the Terrapins were barely a factor in an 82-70 loss to the Tigers.

"Give Clemson credit. They came out and kicked our butts," said junior forward Evers Burns.

How bad was Maryland (10-13, 3-10)? The Terps were down nine points after eight minutes, 14 after 12 and 19 with 2:29 left in the first half. They missed 20 of 28 from the field in the half and 32 of their first 45.

Maryland followed its best shooting performance under Gary Williams (65.5 percent) with one of its worst, going 23 of 74 (31.1 percent). After combining for 19 of 27 against Duke, McLinton and Walt Williams were 13 of 40 against Clemson.

"The shots just weren't falling," said Williams, who started off two of his first 14, finished nine of 30 (including six of an ACC-record 22 three-pointers) and scored 28 of his points in the second half. "A few times I forced it. I was trying to make things happen."

Things didn't happen for the Terps until the final nine minutes, and by then they were down 61-40 after being down as many as 22 a few minutes before. Maryland cut its deficit to 61-54 but didn't get closer.

The emotional aftereffect of Thursday's 91-89 loss to Duke was still in evidence against Clemson (14-9, 4-8). The Terps were slow getting to rebounds and to loose balls. Every pass was an adventure, and most shots seemed to fall short.

"There was no part of our game [in the first half] that I was pleased with," said Gary Williams. "We're the type of team that needs to play with emotion. We weren't emotionally ready. We can't let the Duke game take the emotion out of us, but it did."

Maryland will need to get its emotion back before tomorrow night, when it plays host to North Carolina-Greensboro at Cole Field House. The Spartans are in their first season of Division I.

It marks the first time in nearly two months that the Terps will play a team outside the Atlantic Coast Conference. Their next ACC game is Sunday at home against North Carolina, with the final two regular-season games at Wake Forest on March 5 and home against Virginia on March 7.

The loss to Clemson, coupled with North Carolina State's upset of the fourth-ranked Tar Heels, put last-place Maryland 1 1/2 games behind the Wolfpack and Tigers. The eighth- and ninth-place teams will meet in the play-in game to the ACC tournament March 12 in Charlotte, N.C.

"We can't play like we did tonight," McLinton said. "If we do, we're not going to beat anybody."

NOTES: Burns had a career-high 15 rebounds, but junior C Chris Kerwin had five rebounds and didn't score in 22 minutes. . . . St. Frances of Baltimore alum Devin Gray had nine points, hitting three of five field goals. . . Eric Burks led Clemson with 21 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including four of six on three-pointers.

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