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Notes on Virginia Tech 74, Maryland 57

Surely, Gary Williams knew there would be nights like this for a team that lost three top seniiors from a year ago.

But I'm not sure he figured the Terps would come out so flat on this particular night, not on his home court in an important conference game. He seemed genuinely surprised that Maryland -- which immediately trailed 12-0 -- would fall to the Hokies by 17 points after coming within single digits against five teams that have been ranked in the Top 25.

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It was, by one point, Maryland's worst loss at Comcast Center.

It was a combination of things that bedeviled the Terps:

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*Virginia Tech, which leads the ACC in scoring defense, packed in its zone against Jordan Williams, denying him the ball. He got only three shots in the first half. Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said his guys were "swarming."

Virginia Tech's early 12-0 lead quickly gave the Terps the sensation of perpetually running "uphill," Jordan Williams said.

Maryland made it a point of emphasis at halftime to at least try to get the ball inside. Those efforts, says Gary Williams, opened things up a bit on the perimeter for Cliff Tucker. Tucker's 11-point, second-half burst was about the only bright spot for the Terps.

*Another Maryland problem was that Virginia Tech's Erick Green, a sophomore guard, got hot. The Terps put athletic defender Cliff Tucker on Malcolm Delaney. But Green burned the Terps for 24 points on 12-for-16 shooting. Delaney finished with 19. "I like a lot of attention coming to me because then I can make other people better," Delaney said.

And what of Delaney's comments that Maryland may have the worst fans ever?

"It was a hostile environment and that's just how it is," said Virginia Tech's Green. "Maryland's a tough place to play. The crowd was crazy and it really was a team win. It was probably the hardest place I've ever played in right now."

I was asked on the pre-game radio show if this was a "must-win" game for the Terps, and I said not yet. But Saturday's game against Clemson looms large. I don't know if the Terps, who went undefeated in ACC play at home last season, can afford to go 0-3 in conference games on their home floor.

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