Thanks to a 23-5 run and the Spartans foul trouble and bad free throw shooting, the Terps defeated the #6 team in the nation 80-62 in the Old Spice Classic. The Terps next face another top ten team, Gonzaga, at 5:30 on ESPN. Because Maryland won its first game, both their remaining games, against Gonzaga and against either Tennessee or Georgetown, will be on the main two networks of ESPN instead of ESPNU.
Dave Neal, Dave Neal of all people got player of the game, and it was well deserved. A perfect 3-3 from downtown, 17 points and five rebounds from the team's lone senior. Greivis Vasquez also had 17 plus six assists, Eric Hayes had 13 points, six rebounds, and five assists, plus Adrian Bowie landed 13 points.
Even if Michigan State had better free throw shooting (12-27, 44.4%), this game was just going Maryland's way. The team looks a lot more physical trying to grab rebounds, the shooting looked better, and this was a much better showing than in the previous three games. Maryland steps up their play when the opponent is better, and this game gives Maryland fans all sorts of hope. Hope that an undersized team can still shoot well and compete, with a deep backcourt. Maybe this is only one game, but this is a fantastic win for the young Terps.
Gonzaga is up next, the #10 team in the nation. They are led by Kansas transfer Micah Downs, averaging 14.7 points a game. Jeremy Pargo plays the point, getting at least eight assists a game. Sophomore Austin Daye is their main big man, because Josh Heytvelt is not playing to expectations. But this is a different squad than the Spartans. Maryland won't have free reign to grab rebounds against this team with the severe height disadvantage. The Terps will need to shoot well against and be able to spread out Gonzaga's zone. It will not be an easy game, but Maryland has already surprised the basketball world, they can do it again.
(Photo credit: AP)