Maryland falls behind early, can't recover in loss to UNC

Maryland falls behind early, can't recover in loss to UNC
February 4, 2014, 10:15 pm
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There’s no easy way to climb out of a 19-3 hole four minutes into the game in the last installment of a long-standing ACC rivalry on the road in one of the conference’s most hostile environments.

Credit Maryland for almost doing it. Almost.

After trailing by that 16-point margin early, Maryland was able to cut the North Carolina lead to as little to three before the Tar Heels paced the Terrapins for the remainder of the game in a 75-63 loss at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Overmatched on the interior and plagued by foul trouble, Maryland’s defense could do little to stop the UNC duo of James Michael McAdoo and Brice Johnson, which combined for 31 points on 13-of-19 shooting from the floor.

Guard Marcus Paige led the way for North Carolina with 25.

Maryland’s offense was stifled by 16 turnovers, including seven from junior guard Dez Wells, and failed to find a true flow during much of the game in the loss.

More analysis below.

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For the first time this season--and after Shaquille Cleare, Jonathan Graham, and Damonte Dodd got their chances--Charles Mitchell was in the starting lineup versus UNC. Against the length and athleticism of North Carolina’s front line, Maryland was unable to fight fire with fire, so they fought fire with size and intensity.

Mitchell was probably the most productive big to start a game this season, scoring five points and grabbing nine rebounds through the first 20 minutes. He finished with five points and 13 big rebounds.


There aren’t many place where it is worse to fall down 19-3 than at the Dean Dome, not to mention in the program’s final game against North Carolina before bolting to another conference.

James Michael McAdoo was unstoppable for UNC during that stretch. Even with Marcus Paige almost non-existent, North Carolina used its advantage on the break to get out to the early lead that set the tone. Though Maryland was able to cut that down to just three points eventually, the Tar Heels couldn't have gotten off to a better start.

Cue the "A-C-C!" chants.


By the 14-minute mark of the second half, Maryland’s foul situation was as follows: Jonathan Graham (4), Evan Smotrycz (3), Charles Mitchell (3), Shaquille Cleare (2). Nearly the entire front line for the Terrapins was either on the bench with fouls or playing cautiously to avoid more fouls.

Add to that the fact that Maryland was overmatched from the start, not only with McAdoo but with Johnson and Kennedy Meeks, and you begin to understand the root of the problem. The Terrapins were outrebounded by eight and surrendered 11 offensive rebounds.


North Carolina’s interior dominated the first half, but it was Paige in the second half who took over and effectively held Maryland at bay when it went on a series of short runs in the final 20 minutes.

Perimeter defense has been one of Maryland’s biggest weaknesses and Paige exploited that, mixing up his attacks at the rim with an outside shot and finishing with 25 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the floor, 4-of-7 from behind the arc, and 9-of-11 from the free throw line.


There came a point in the second half where the only effective offense for Maryland was to put the ball in Wells’ hands and let him go to work. He finished with a team-leading 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, but forcing him to have the ball in his hands so often with the defense keying in on him ultimately resulted in a team-high seven turnovers.

Jake Layman was 2-of-6 from the floor. Seth Allen was 4-of-13. Evan Smotrycz was the only other consistent offensive option with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

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