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Terps Winless in Cassell in ACC Play
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #421 February 26, 2010
As we detailed in today's Maryland game preview, the Terrapins are bringing one of the ACC's top two teams into Blacksburg tomorrow afternoon, and this is going to be a stiff challenge for the Hokies. While we don't categorize this as a "must win" for the Hokies to make the NCAA Tournament, a loss would put Tech behind the eight-ball in a big way.
As good as Maryland is, they are one of just two ACC teams to have never won a game in conference play. (Georgia Tech is the other.) The Terps are 0-3 in Cassell since ACC expansion:
Virginia Tech 86, Maryland 76, March 5, 2005: This game capped Virginia Tech's inaugural ACC season at 8-8, earning the Hokies the #4 seed in the ACC Tournament, and Coach of the Year honors for Seth Greenberg.
Senior Carlos Dixon bid a fond farewell to Cassell with 20 points, and sophomore Jamon Gordon led with 23, but this game was much closer than the final score. Maryland's James Gist hit a jumper in the lane to make it 74-72, Hokies, with 2:37 left, and the outcome was in doubt.
But from that point on, Tech hit 10 free throws and got a dunk from Gordon to stretch things out to an 86-73 lead, before Maryland's Mike Jones hit a meaningless three-pointer at the end for the final margin.
Virginia Tech 67, Maryland 64 (Overtime), January 21, 2007: This is the famous Ice Bowl game. With ice storms hitting the state of Virginia, including the New River Valley, the Tech athletic administration opened the doors to students with a valid ID. Of the approximately 7,500 in attendance, all but a thousand or so were students, and Cassell was noisy, electric, and surreal.
Tech led 58-50 with over six minutes left, but the student-heavy crowd watched aghast as Maryland scored nine straight points to take a 59-58 lead with over a minute left. Tech's Coleman Collins hit a free throw to tie it at 59 with 59 seconds left. The two teams took that score into overtime, where the Hokies bolted out to a 67-62 lead before holding the Terps off.
Tech was led by their trio of outstanding seniors, Zabian Dowdell (19 points), Jamon Gordon (16 points, 7 rebounds), and Coleman Collins (11 points, 14 rebounds, in one of the better games of his senior year).
Virginia Tech 67, Maryland 66, January 12, 2008: Another year, another close game in Cassell. Tech trailed 66-61 with 1:46 remaining, when a trio of freshmen pulled the Hokies to victory. Point guard Hank Thorns hit a baseline jumper to make it 66-63, and after a Maryland miss, Malcolm Delaney hit a three-pointer to tie it at 66 with 52 seconds left. After yet another Maryland miss, Jeff Allen was fouled and hit one of two free throws to put the Hokies up 67-66 with 12 seconds left.
Maryland had a shot to win it, but a long buzzer-beater by sophomore Greivis Vasquez missed badly as time expired. The miss ended a horrendous game by Vasquez, who scored 10 points on 2-of-14 shooting (0-for-7 from three-point range) and had just three assists and six turnovers.
Breaking it Down: All three games have been close affairs, with the Hokies putting on a burst at the end to win. In 2005, Tech used a 12-1 run to seal the win; in 2007, the Hokies started overtime with an 8-2 run; and in 2008, Tech scored six straight points to close out the Terps.
With the exception of their late 9-0 run in 2007 (which resulted in a loss anyway), Maryland has been the opposite of clutch in Cassell. This year, they are loaded with seniors at the guard and wing positions, so the Terps should present a more resilient challenge to Tech.
Vasquez is also unlikely to lay the sort of stink bomb he had in the 2008 game. As a freshman in 2007, he was solid (12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 turnovers), but 2008 was a nightmare for him. He won't gift-wrap Saturday's game like he did the one two years ago.
The Hokies need to play hard, shoot well, and crank up the defense, if they are to knock off the 11-3 Terrapins in Cassell. The good news for Tech is that Maryland will be playing their sixth game in 14 days, with Duke next up. Maybe the Terps will be fatigued or a little "off," and the Hokies can take advantage of it.
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