GAME NOTES: Both the Maryland Terrapins and the Pittsburgh Panthers will attempt to extend their three-game winning streaks on Monday night when they square off at the Petersen Events Center for an Atlantic Coast Conference clash.
Maryland closed out a five-game homestand with a convincing 77-61 triumph over Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon, giving it wins in five of its last six games while improving to 2-0 in the ACC in the process. The Terps are now 10-5 overall this season, including 1-1 in true road games.
Pittsburgh tipped off its ACC schedule on Saturday afternoon in impressive fashion by going on the road and handing a strong NC State squad a 74-62 defeat. The Panthers have been outstanding through the first two months of the season at 13-1, with their only loss coming on a neutral floor to Cincinnati on Dec. 17, 44-43. They've been especially dominant at home (9-0), where all of their wins have come by double digits.
These newly-formed ACC rivals have met just seven times before, with Maryland holding a 5-2 advantage. Pittsburgh won the most recent bout however, beating the Terps on a neutral floor in November of 2010, 79-70.
The Terps came out of the gate firing on Saturday afternoon, ripping off a 12-2 run in the first three minutes of their game versus Georgia Tech and cruised from there en route to the 16-point victory. They shot 46.7 percent from the field, including a stellar 10-of-19 from 3-point range, and kept their mistakes to a minimum with just six turnovers. The bench was active in the triumph, with Nick Faust (16 points), Seth Allen (10 points) and Charles Mitchell (11 rebounds) all with solid showings. Evan Smotrycz and Dez Wells rounded out the balanced effort with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
On the season, Maryland has performed well on both ends of the floor, shooting 45.1 percent from the field for 74.5 ppg, while allowing just 66.9 ppg on 40.4 percent field goal efficiency. It also helps itself with a strong rebounding margin (+6.8), although it is often hindered in close games with a poor free- throw percentage (.651). Wells is the spark plug with 15.0 ppg on greater than 48 percent shooting from the field. Layman (13.7 ppg) does plenty of damage from beyond the arc (37-of-88), Smotrycz (12.3 ppg) grabs a team-high 6.9 rpg, Faust pours in 10.4 ppg and Allen has played in just three contests but scores 10.3 ppg.
The Panthers faced a 15-point deficit at NC State over the weekend less than five minutes into the game, but instead of rolling over they battled back to make its deficit eight at the half and used a lights-out field-goal shooting second stanza (.630) to pull away for the 12-point victory. In addition to the hot shooting late, they also stifled NC State, forcing it to under 40 percent shooting from the field and 16 turnovers. Lamar Patterson contributed all over the court with 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. Talib Zanna narrowly missed a double-double with 15 points and nine boards, while Michael Young contributed 13 points.
Pittsburgh has gotten used to dominating, well-round performances this season, as it outshoots its opponents from the field, 48 percent to 39.5 percent, while ranking in the top-10 nationally in both scoring margin (+17.9) and scoring defense (58.9 ppg). Unsurprisingly, they also regularly find themselves on the positive end of both the rebounding (+9.2) and turnover (+2.8) battles. Patterson is one of the country's most multi-talented swingmen, posting 17.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.6 apg and 1.5 spg while boasting strong percentages from the field (.519), 3-point range (.419) and the free-throw line (.779). Zanna (12.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Cameron Wright (11.1 ppg) are regular contributors as well.
As well as Maryland has played this season, it doesn't hold a candle to what Pittsburgh has been able to accomplish, especially on its home floor. It might not be the blowout victory the Panthers have become accustomed to, but don't expect them to break too much of a sweat in this one.
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