CLEMSON – Many thought that Saturday afternoon's game at Maryland would be the first loss of the…
Hot Shooting Terps Topple No. 14 Clemson
It is the first loss of the season for the Tigers, which drop to 17-1 overall and 3-1 in the ACC. It also means that there are no longer any undefeated teams nationally.
"Our identity is that we hang our hats on defense and we didn't hang it on defense today," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "And as a result, we got into a situation of where we tried to outscore them."
For their effort, the Tigers shot well, too. They made 49 percent of their shots, including a very solid 8-of-17 from the beyond the three-point line.
However, Clemson showed why it's been one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the nation the last two seasons as it made just a dismal 5-of-13.
Regardless of the poor free throw shooting, it speaks volumes that in order for the opposition to win, it had to put together one of its best games of the season.
Had Maryland played a normal game, the Tigers likely would have put together a five-game winning streak against the Terps and gone into Wednesday night's meeting with No. 1 North Carolina undefeated.
"We did what we needed to do offensively," Purnell said. "We just didn't do it defensively."
For nearly the entire game, Maryland held a five- to 10-point lead. They could never totally shake the Tigers, who at the same time could never close the gap. "We never got that mentality of getting four or five stops," Purnell said. "It was just one of those days defensively that we weren't very good."
Besides the hot shooting by Maryland (15-3, 1-2 ACC), Purnell was upset that his Tigers got outrebounded for just the third time this season. The Terps had a 35-29 edge.
"When they shoot 62 percent and outrebound us, it's hard for them to lose," Purnell said. "We did some good things, just not enough times to get a run. We had some good spurts in the game, but we've just got to get better."
As stated earlier, the Tigers had a nice offensive output. Forward James Mays had a game-high 22 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Guard K.C. Rivers had 18 points, but 16 of them came in the first half.
Guard Vernon Hamilton added 15 points, forward Trevor Booker 14 points and guard Cliff Hammonds 11 points.
Ekene Ibekwe led Maryland with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Things don't get any easy for Clemson, which hosts top-ranked North Carolina Wednesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.
"To me, it's a mental thing that we have to have two very good days of practice for the No. 1 team in the country," Purnell said. "We're expecting a big and loud crowd, and that will certainly help us get back on the winning side."
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