Maryland is 16-2 at home this season. But the games to watch these days are the road contests.
That’s not just because two out of Maryland’s last three regular-season games are on the road. It’s because away games are a litmus test of how evolved you are as a team.
It seems almost any ACC team can win in their home arena this season. Consider that Boston College was one point away from beating both Duke and Miami at home.
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On the road, you’ve got to be tougher, more mature and resilient. The Terps aren’t there yet.
Against Georgia Tech on Wednesday night, Maryland – a team with excellent size – got outrebounded 34-32 in a 78-68 Terps defeat. It was also telling that the Yellow Jackets got to the foul line almost twice as often as Maryland (27 times compared to the Terps’ 14).
Maryland’s biggest player, 7-footer Alex Len, “got pushed around all night,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “I know he ended up with really good numbers (13 points) and we ran some plays for him. He was good early and got second-chance points. I thought (Daniel) Miller got the best of him.”
Maryland’s defense also disturbed Turgeon. Consider that the Yellow Jackets entered with the worst field-goal percentage in the conference (41.7) and the second-worst scoring offense (63.5 points per game).
Even Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory joked that he was surprised his team managed to score 78 points. It’s the first time in nine games that the Yellow Jackets had scored that much.
At his core, Turgeon is about defense. He’d been pleased that the Terps were holding opponents to 37.5 percent shooting entering Wednesday night. (The figure is not quite as impressive -- 39.8 percent -- when you remove all but the ACC contests).
But on the road it’s often a different story. The Yellow Jackets shot 51 percent.
“There’s not an excuse for losing,” said Maryland’s Shaquille Cleare (seven points, six rebounds), who sounded offended that the Terps lost the rebounding battle.
“You’ve got to hit guys and get the basketball,” Cleare said. “You leave it up to me, I’ll hit the whole team and try to get the rebound. I just think we played a little soft tonight. If you come all the way to Georgia to lose, you might as well stay in College Park.”