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When Logan Aronhalt released his off-balance, 30-foot 3-point attempt with 10 seconds left on the clock that missed the rim entirely, it seemed hard to believe that was what Maryland coach Mark Turgeon drew up during the timeout.
But it was. In fact, it’s a play Maryland has used in almost every late game situation this year.
Nick Faust was the inbounder, standing on the sideline near the Maryland bench as the Terrapins trailed 79-76. Dez Wells and Seth Allen curled around off of screens before Aronhalt did the same. The first two were just distractions, Faust said, and Aronhalt was the first option all along.
“We got him a good look,” Turgeon said of Aronhalt, a 44.2 percent 3-point shooter on the year. “If he just would have curled it a little bit tighter, Alex set a great screen. It’s hard to get an open 3 late in the game, and we actually got one. Execution was tremendous.”
The Terrapins were so confident that Aronhalt would hit his shot that Turgeon had planned out Maryland’s defense after tying the game during the timeout before the shot.
Meanwhile, on the other bench, North Carolina coach Roy Williams recognized the play after it began, and he and his assistants tried to yell instructions to the Tar Heels. North Carolina got what it wanted, though – Maryland threw the ball back toward the centerline and not down near the baseline.
Had the Terrapins worked the clock down to about five seconds, Williams said the Tar Heels would have fouled. But Aronhalt let it fly with plenty of time to spare.
“I think he rushed it a little bit, probably, too,” Williams said. “I don’t think that our defense really made him take that rushed shot.”
• The polishing of NCAA tournament resumes as teams exit the ACC tournament is a tradition as old as the mascot game, and N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried engaged in the practice after the Wolfpack’s loss to top-seeded Miami on Saturday.
Asked about the quality of Miami’s guards, Gottfried took his former colleagues in the national media to task for overlooking the depth of talent within the ACC. And if the NCAA committee happened to be listening, no one from the ACC would object.
“Let me say this, because I was part of the media and I worked for ESPN and I hear about how leagues are deep,” Gottfried said. “I look at Boston College; I look at Virginia Tech and Erick Green, who pounded Iowa; Virginia who beat Wisconsin on the road; and look at Maryland and what they’re doing, and I never hear anybody talk about our league and how deep the players are top to bottom.
“Sounds like there is 100 teams in the Big 10 and the Big East and we played against them, we played against (Michigan’s Trey) Burke and (Oklahoma State’s Marcus) Smart who are highly-rated guards. You can put Shane Larkin and Durand Scott right in the group, that’s why they’re sitting here with 17, 18 ACC wins today. Those guys are awfully good.”
Luke DeCock contributed.
Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley