Gray comes back to haunt Terps, 82-72 Local recruit scores 27 to pace Clemson win

January 27, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Devin Gray started last night's game on the bench and in Clemson coach Cliff Ellis' doghouse. The Maryland basketball team only wished he had stayed there.

Gray, who was benched for the second half of Sunday's 18-point loss at Wake Forest for disciplinary reasons, came off of it early against the Terrapins and lifted the Tigers to an 82-72 Atlantic Coast Conference victory at Littlejohn Coliseum.

With a career-high 27 points, including 16 in the second half, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound sophomore from Baltimore helped Clemson (10-5, 1-5) to its first ACC win this season and the first in 10 games dating back to last year. The defeat broke a modest two-game winning streak for Maryland (10-6, 1-5).

It was the fifth straight loss here for the Terps, the seventh in the past eight years. After leading by nine points midway through the first half, and scoring the last six points of the half to lead 34-32, foul trouble on senior point guard Kevin McLinton made things problematic for Maryland.

"We had the lead, but we never played consistently," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, whose team's last lead was at 38-37 early in the second half. "We had a couple of runs in the first half, but we didn't do much after that."

Said McLinton, who picked up three early fouls, "When I came back in the game, I was tentative. I'm not a very good player if I'm not playing aggressively."

After McLinton tied the game at 42 on a drive down the lane with 16:37 to go, Gray started Clemson on a 7-0 run with a layup. It was during the run that Maryland center Chris Kerwin picked up his fourth foul. With Maryland trailing 53-48, McLinton picked up his fourth with 11:21 remaining.

By the time McLinton returned with 7:56 left, Clemson was ahead by 11 and Gray had taken over the game.

During a crucial 12-2 run, which stretched the Tigers' lead from 55-50 to 67-52, Gray scored eight points.

"Devin Gray played a great game," said Williams. "I watched him play for two years in high school."

But Gray certainly had help. Sophomore center Sharone Wright had only the second triple-double in league history against another ACC team, finishing with 12 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks.

Clemson's inside game also helped its outside shooters. Guards Chris Whitney and Jeff Brown each scored 19 for the Tigers, with Whitney hitting six of 10 three-pointers. Evers Burns and Johnny Rhodes each scored 18 for the Terps.

"Their strength bothered us," said Williams. "Clemson's front line is as big as anybody's in the ACC except for North Carolina."

The loss was a critical one for the Terps, who needed another ACC win against a second-division team to keep their flickering NCAA tournament hopes alive. Maryland plays Duke Saturday at Cole Field House.

"It broke our momentum," said Burns, who also had a career-high 15 rebounds. "But we've got to go back and get ready for Duke. We've got to play harder."

The performance by Gray came after he was disciplined by Ellis for criticizing his teammates at halftime of Clemson's 76-68 loss in Winston-Salem, N.C. Gray, the team's leading scorer this season, had complained about not getting the ball enough. He certainly got it enough last night.

"I tried to put everything behind me," said Gray, who hit 11 of 16 from the field. "I knew I wasn't going to start, but I wanted to play well against my home team. This was for bragging rights when I go home."

NOTES: McLinton, the leading scorer in ACC competition coming into last night averaging more than 22 points game, had only eight. . . . The only other ACC player to have a triple-double against an ACC team was former Clemson center Tree Rollins, who had 16 points, 15 rebounds and 10 blocks against Duke in 1977.

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