GAME NOTES: The Virginia Cavaliers invade the Comcast Center on Sunday in search of their fourth straight win over their ACC rival Maryland Terrapins.
The Terrapins hold a 106-71 advantage over Virginia in a series that dates back to 1912-13. Virginia is 23-60 against Maryland in College Park, including a 4-6 mark at Comcast Center. The teams have split the past 10 meetings, and Virginia is currently on a three-game winning streak. Maryland swept the two- game season series in 2009-10, and won the first game of the series in 2010-11, before Virginia began its current streak.
Virginia picked up its fifth win in six games in convincing fashion on Thursday, pulling off a 78-41 rout of Clemson to avenge a 15-point loss it suffered on Jan. 12. The victory rose the Cavaliers to a third-place ACC standing at 6-3. Junior guard Joe Harris continued his stellar campaign against the Tigers with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. Harris is leading Virginia with 15.6 ppg and knocked down 45.9 percent of his attempts from distance.
Akil Mitchell also got into the mix in the lopsided win over Clemson by tallying 16 points, six rebounds and four steals. Justin Anderson added 14 points and three steals while Jontel Evans dealt out eight assists. Virginia leads the ACC by a long shot in scoring defense with an allowed average of only 51.5 ppg. Its defensive prowess was apparent against the Tigers, who shot just 30.8 percent from the field after going 1-of-17 from 3-point range.
Mark Turgeon's Terps took care of business on Thursday as they managed to escape their trip to Blacksburg with a 60-55 victory over Virginia Tech. The win was the second in a row for Maryland, which is tied for fifth in the ACC standings with NC State and Florida State with its 5-5 league record. The Terps are led by the dynamic inside-outside combination of Alex Len and Dez Wells. Len has become a projected NBA lottery pick this season by posting 12.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game on the inside, while Wells has posted 12.0 points and 3.1 assists per tilt in his first season with the team after transferring from Xavier.
Maryland got the job done against the Hokies with a tough defensive effort, limiting Virginia Tech to 33.8 percent shooting overall including a 2-of-18 mark from 3-point range. Jake Layman scored 14 points to lead the team in the scoring column and Len chipped in 10 points. Maryland had a balanced attack, with five players scoring more than seven points, as it shot 40.4 percent from the floor as a team. The Terps have been solid on both ends this season to rank fourth in the ACC in scoring (71.5 ppg) and fifth in scoring defense (61.0 ppg).
This is going to be a low-scoring, yet exciting matchup between a pair of ACC teams with a ton of upside. Although Virginia is playing extremely well right now, Maryland is 14-1 at home and leads the nation in rebounding with 42.8 per game. The Terps' more balanced style of play will benefit them against the best defensive squad in the country.
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