Has Maryland finally solved its backcourt woes? Or do strong performances in wins over Clemson and Virginia indicate that the Terps' guards are due to regress toward the mean?
Maryland (13-7, 3-3) begins to find out Sunday night at Georgia Tech (10-9, 3-3), a team wrestling with its own identity issues. Are the Yellow Jackets really the team that handed North Carolina its worst loss of the season, 78-58? Or are they the unfocused outfit that lost to Siena and by 17 points to Kennesaw State?
|Maryland at Georgia Tech|
|When » Sunday, 7:45 p.m.|
|Where » Alexander Memorial Stadium, Atlanta|
|TV » Comcast|
|Radio » 980 AM|
|Junior G Iman Shumpert leads Georgia Tech in scoring (16.8 ppg), rebounds (6.1 pg), assists (3.8 pg), and steals (2.1 pg). The Yellow Jackets rank last in the ACC in field goal shooting (42.1 percent), 3-point shooting (30.7 percent), and 3-point defense (38.7 percent), but leads in steals (9.8 pg).|
This is not the best time to face Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 72-57 rout of Virginia Tech, a team that handed Maryland its worst loss ever at Comcast Center just 10 days ago, 74-57.
Against Virginia Tech, 6-foot-6 sophomore Brian Oliver scored 28 points, while 6-foot-5 junior Iman Shumpert (22 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, seven steals) notched the Yellow Jackets' first triple-double since Kenny Anderson in 1989.
The recent success of the tall, talented duo likely means lots of playing time for Maryland guard Cliff Tucker. The 6-foot-6 senior has excelled as a long, perimeter defender in addition to his recent offensive up-tick.
"The thing with Cliff, you're gonna get a shot you don't like as a coach once in a while but you also want his aggressiveness and you want his toughness defensively," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "He winds up playing defense on some pretty good shooters."
It took a challenge from guard-oriented Virginia to bring out the best in Maryland's backcourt. In Thursday's 66-42 victory in Charlottesville, the Terps' guards were dominant at both ends of the floor.
On offense, Tucker, Adrian Bowie, Pe'Shon Howard, and Terrell Stoglin hit 20 of 34 shots (58.8 percent) and combined for 51 points.
On defense, the Maryland backcourt harassed Virginia's guards into 11-for-39 shooting (28 percent).