COLLEGE PARK - Nick Faust admired his arcing shot for a second, keeping his form intact while the ball sailed toward the hoop.
When it swished the net, Faust pounded his fist against his heart and pedaled back on defense. Maryland's fans roared, and the Terrapins were on their way to a 72-59 win over Clemson on Saturday afternoon at Comcast Center.
The Terps (19-8, 7-7 ACC) needed a victory to stay in the NCAA tournament mix. They also needed a floor leader, something they've been lacking consistently all season.
Faust assumed the role Saturday, to the delight of the 15,373 fans wondering which Maryland team would show up - the one that looked sharp in upsetting Duke a week ago, or the one that fell flat against Boston College on Tuesday.
The sophomore from Baltimore put together back-to-back solid outings this week as Maryland's point guard, with a combined eight assists and no turnovers. Faust added the offense Saturday - he led the Terrapins with 18 points and threw in three assists and three steals.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Faust has put in a lot of time working on his jumper, and it was on point against Clemson (13-13, 5-9).
Shooting 70 percent from the field apparently makes things go a little smoother.
"Coach says when I step into my shot I usually make it," Faust said. "But when I'm usually kind of loose with it, that's when I miss. I just try to step into it. ... When you make shots you stay on the floor."
Faust came into Saturday's game shooting 36.7 percent and hadn't posted a double-digit effort in a month. That all changed against the Tigers, who couldn't keep up with Maryland's press and Faust's guard play.
"I thought his floor game was good," said Turgeon, who started Faust and played him for 29 minutes. "I thought he got us into our offense. I thought he defended better. I'm on Nick all the time about being an elite defender, taking on a challenge. I thought he really defended today and played smart defense."
Freshman guard Jake Layman finished with 12 points and forward Shaquille Cleare, another freshman, added 10 points and six rebounds.
Maryland outscored Clemson by 10 in the second half and got back to a successful shooting performance - the Terps had shot 40 percent or better for seven straight games before faltering at Boston College. On Saturday, they made 30 of 63 field goals and overcame a poor free-throw shooting display (6 for 15) to take down the Tigers.
Faust scored 11 points in the second half and sank three 3-pointers - the one at which he marveled came with 7:06 to go and put Maryland ahead 59-46, and it broke the Terps out of a brief shooting funk.
"Our offense was really bad there for a stretch in the second half," Turgeon said, "but our defense was good enough. ... It was a good feeling and it's nice to win."
Maryland led 32-22 with six minutes to play in the first half before Clemson went on a 10-3 run and closed the gap. Freshman guards Jordan Roper and Adonis Filer each sank 3-pointers while the Terrapins went 1 for 6 from the field during that stretch.
Maryland tried to establish a presence underneath the basket with freshman forwards Charles Mitchell and Cleare, who combined for 14 points and eight rebounds in the first half.
Tigers standout Devin Booker started strong and had 10 points and all four of Clemson's free throws in the half.
Booker, Clemson's senior center, finished with a team-high 16 points while Roper scored 13 points and senior forward Milton Jennings added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Faust and Layman accounted for all six of Maryland's 3-pointers, while sophomore guard Dez Wells handed out seven assists. Sophomore center Alex Len finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
Maryland didn't play in front of a sellout crowd in its penultimate home game, but the Terrapins improved to 16-2 at Comcast with a two-game road trip coming against Wake Forest and Georgia Tech.
"I think we executed well in the offensive end," Faust said. "Guys were dialed in from the beginning and it helped us get the win."