ATLANTA -- Maryland senior forward Nik Caner-Medley and former guard Chris McCray were in the same recruiting class, were at one point roommates and eventually became best friends.
They are still close, but now Caner-Medley lives with junior guard Mike Jones, and McCray, formerly Maryland's leading scorer, is no longer with the team.
With a combined 45 points against Georgia Tech on Wednesday, Jones and Caner-Medley helped Maryland prove it's not going to fold easily - if at all - without McCray, who was declared academically ineligible Monday.
The face of Maryland basketball might have changed in the past week, but the Terps' team concept hasn't, and they proved it in their 86-74 road win over the Yellow Jackets.
"We're still a basketball team," said junior guard D.J. Strawberry. "[McCray] was a huge loss for us, but we're just as good a team without him as we were with him. Mike stepped up big for us [Wednesday] and he played great. Nik was huge for us. We played with a lot of energy and a lot of passion. It was hard for us to shake off Chris, but we have to move on."
The only question still lingering is if Maryland can show that attitude and achieve that kind of success against some of the better competition remaining on its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule.
The Terps (14-4, 4-2), who earned their third straight league victory and first on the road, still have to face conference power Duke (17-1, 5-0) at home, in addition to a game at North Carolina State, which is in a three-way tie with Maryland and Virginia for second place.
Beyond that, five schools, including North Carolina, are in a cluster with 3-3 records. The league's parity this season could work in Maryland's favor. Miami, which handed the Terps an unexpected road loss earlier this month, is among the teams at .500 and will travel to Comcast Center in March for a rematch.
The Terps played one of their better games this season, though, without McCray. They made 41 of 45 free throws, Caner-Medley scored a game-high 33 points and had nine rebounds, and they played stingy defense, holding Georgia Tech to 36.7 percent shooting from the field.
"It was strong," senior forward Travis Garrison said. "I think a lot of people said we couldn't do it. We needed a road win. We did a great job coming out here, concentrating and not letting things off the court mess up our focus."
Caner-Medley was two points shy of his career high of 35 points, which came a year ago against Maryland's next opponent, Temple (10-7, 4-3 Atlantic 10). The Terps will travel to Philadelphia for tomorrow's 2 p.m. tipoff.
It's a game Maryland is expected to win. Temple has struggled at times this season, scoring 34 points in a loss to Massachusetts, the Owls' lowest output since 1973.
Nothing, though, has been a guarantee for Maryland lately.
Some outside the program have questioned Jones' consistency and his defense. Maryland coach Gary Williams said he got what he needed Wednesday from Jones, who finished with 12 points, including going six of six from the free-throw line.
"It was great," Williams said Wednesday. "Everybody was saying, `Well, we'll see how good Mike Jones is now.' Well, he's a pretty good player. He's been behind a couple of pretty good players in the past. I'm happy for Mike; not in the situation where he got it, but Mike has kept himself ready to go and he got his chance tonight, and he did a great job."
It was only the seventh career start for Jones and his third this season. He came into Wednesday's game with a team-high 27 three-pointers and made two of three against the Yellow Jackets.
"It was a great opportunity for me to start and come out there and be a leader and show some enthusiasm on the court," he said.
"Things happen," he said of McCray's situation. "We're not going to let anything get to us. We're still sticking together as a family, as one unit. We're going to get things done as one unit. We're going to come out here and play basketball as one unit. So regardless of what happens on the court or off the court, we're still going to stick together as a team and get things done."
No. 18 Maryland @Temple Tomorrow, 2 p.m., ESPN2, 1300 AM, 105.7 FM