You could see it coming. North Carolina’s undefeated, top-ranked college basketball had been lucky to avoid defeat against Clemson and Georgia Tech; surely someone would hang a loss on them before long. But not today at home against Maryland, whose squad is Gary Williams’ weakest in years and has lost to the likes of Ohio and American University.
Yet the minnows pulled it off 82-80, in perhaps the greatest of Williams’ many upset victories at Maryland.
How did they do it? Mostly through a combination of good defense and poor Carolina shooting. The small and not terribly athletic Terps were outrebounded by 46-32. This enabled Carolina to take 15 more shots than Maryland from the field. However, the two clubs made exactly the same number of field goals (Carolina had one more three-pointer, but needed seven extra attempts to get it). Turnover happy Maryland also limited its giveaways to 10, the same number as Carolina.
James Gist, the team’s only real star, led the way with 22 points and 13 rebounds, slightly outplaying Carolina’s all-American Tyler Hansbrough. High-energy forward Bambale Osby added 12 points and 5 boards, and made the winning basket against woeful defending on the play. Talented but erratic point guard Greivis Vasquez made a run at a quadruple double with 12 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds and 6 turnovers. Landon Milbourne, largely anonymous all year, chipped in with a season-high 14 points.
If Gary Williams can coach this team into the NCAA tournament, it will go down as one his best coaching jobs in what should be a Hall of Fame career. If we play defense like we did today, and somehow maintain that 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, it could happen.
UPDATE: This is the seventh time a Gary Williams team has defeated a team ranked number one in the country. That’s a record [note: among active coaches]. Maryland has now defeated a number-one-ranked-team ten times. Only North Carolina has done it more often.
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