Clemson basketball continued their perfect start to the season, knocking off former ACC rival the Maryland Terps in a near wire-to-wire win. After allowing the first basket of the game, Clemson never trailed again in the 67-51 win.
As a Maryland alum and Clemson basketball transplant fan this game put me in a doozy. Luckily, thanks to my glass-half-full attitude I looked at this as a win-win. Mark Turgeon and the Terps, however, will be leaving Littlejohn Coliseum with a much less optimistic attitude after getting thoroughly dominated by an experienced Clemson squad.
The Tigers used their excellent defensive play to seize hold of the game in its early moments, forcing an extremely efficient, but untested, Maryland team into miss after miss and multiple turnovers. Coming into the game, Clemson held the interior advantage, shoutout Aamir Simms and his game-high 16 points, but it was unknown which side’s guards would take charge.
It became clear as the night went on that the Terps had no answer for John Newman III (12 points), Al-Amir Dawes (12 points), or Nick Honor (10 points and three steals off the bench). To be frank, the Terps really had no answers for anything Clemson did all night. The Tigers shot over 45 percent from the floor in the first half (44.8 percent on the night), and took a 38-15 lead into the break.
Maryland did everything they could to fight back into the game, outpacing their entire first half in a 17-8 run before the under-12 timeout to cut the Clemson lead to 14. Maryland attempted to use both press and zone defenses to break up Clemson’s offensive momentum, but neither were successful beyond brief spurts. The Tigers offense just kept rolling.
Aaron Wiggins, whom many consider to be the best player on Maryland and a fringe-NBA prospect, didn’t score a point until he hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 14-points with with six minutes to play. Al-Amir Dawes responded with a triple of his own, then Honor pushed the lead back to twenty with his third deep ball of the night, and that was the nail in the coffin for Maryland’s comeback hopes.
Clemson proved to be too deep and versatile for the Terps, something that could be extremely valuable in a season where any program’s depth could be tested at any time by a COVID outbreak. It will be interesting to see if Brownell opts to run more lineups with Dawes, Honor, and Newman on the court together; the trio’s shooting and spacing were vital to holding off Maryland’s late attempt at a rally.
The Tigers improve to 4-0 with the win. With a win over Alabama this weekend, they could find themselves ranked in the not too distant future.