CLEMSON, S.C. | If Mark Turgeon had to listen to the many mentions his Maryland basketball team couldn’t win outside of College Park, so would his players.
The comments were constant, a steady set of reminders the Terrapins had not collected a true road victory in more than a year and not once under their first-year coach.
Tuesday changed that script —- and, in typical Maryland fashion, ever-so-barely.
Terrell Stoglin scored 27 points as the Terps fended off Clemson 64-62 to solidify their grip on seventh place in the ACC and silence at least one of Turgeon’s qualms for a while.
“We were hearing it from our coach, too,” Stoglin said. “He was saying ‘We have to get road wins’ and how he was tired of hearing we can’t win on the road. This is a big-time win. They win at home a lot, so this is big-time for us.”
Maryland (14-9, 4-5 ACC) improved to 4-0 against the five teams below them in the conference standings, and became the first ACC team other than Duke or North Carolina to defeat the Tigers (11-12, 3-6) at Littlejohn Coliseum in coach Brad Brownell’s two seasons.
Andre Young scored 15 points but clanked a potential game-winner from just inside midcourt at the buzzer for Clemson, which fell below .500 after the start of January for the first time since February 2005.
It was a moment the Terps were building toward for some time. They played a solid half at Florida State before fading badly. They hung with Temple at the Palestra for about 36 minutes before the Owls polished off a double-digit win. They rallied from 16 points down and the ejection of Turgeon to force double overtime at Miami last week before succumbing.
Finally, Maryland cashed in with its first victory at Clemson in almost five years and its first true road victory since Jan. 30, 2011, at Georgia Tech.
“It was our next step,” Turgeon said. “Our guys gave an unbelievable effort last week without me and we almost had that one and didn’t get it done. You can just see it. We’re growing up. They’re caring and preparing harder. They like being around each other a lot more today than they did six weeks ago.”
It was evident in the defensive pressure Maryland applied against the Tigers, who shot only 34.9 percent from the floor. And there was little question the Terps played exceptionally and shot wisely early in the second half as they built a 53-39 edge.
The lead didn’t last, as Clemson closed within a point with 1:14 to play, only for Alex Len to deliver his only basket of the game in response. The Terps seemed in control up 63-59 after a pair of Stoglin free throws, only for Milton Jennings to connect on a 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds to go.
After guard Sean Mosley split a pair of foul shots, he corralled Jennings’ long inbound pass while he was out of bounds. That gave it back to the Tigers far from the basket, and Young’s desperate heave just missed.
“It feels great,” said Mosley, who scored 16 points and added six assists without a turnover. “It’s just taking that next step toward becoming a better team.”
These are small steps, of course, and beating a sub-.500 team emerged in its own rebuilding project won’t convey great meaning beyond Maryland’s locker room.
Inside it, however, topping Clemson was a milestone. No current Terps had ever won at Littlejohn, and Maryland won’t haul a losing streak into its trip Saturday to No. 10 Duke.
And, of no small significance, winning anywhere on the road meant they have one less thing to hear about from their coach, who continues to praise the progress of his improving team.
“By no stretch of the imagination are we a great team, but we’re playing about as well as we can play, which I like,” Turgeon said. “Hopefully we’re going to get a lot better between now and March.”
—- Patrick Stevens