Feb. 20, 2010
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) – Maryland trailed Georgia Tech by one point with 1.5 seconds left when coach Gary Williams called for a play that is a staple of every practice.
The ball ended up in the hands of Cliff Tucker. Problem is, the backup guard had never before taken that shot.
Tucker buried a 3-pointer as time expired, and Maryland pulled out a 76-74 victory Saturday to remain unbeaten at home in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
After Derrick Favors gave Georgia Tech the lead with a follow-up basket with 3 seconds left, Maryland got the ball to midcourt before calling a timeout. The Terrapins got the ball to Tucker, whose shot from the left corner found the bottom of the net, setting off a celebration at the sold out Comcast Center.
“Coach just drew the play and we went out there and ran it,” Tucker said.
Asked if he ever took that shot in practice, Tucker replied, “I’ve never been that guy. In fact, I’m usually on the (backup) team going against the starters.”
Williams said, “You need some breaks at times during the year. We got one there. We played well enough to be in a position to get that break.”
The wild finish overshadowed a milestone performance by Maryland senior Greivis Vasquez, who scored 18 to become the sixth player in school history to reach the 2,000-point mark.
“Praise Cliff. He made that big shot for us,” Vasquez said. “This is nothing about me. My team did a great job staying tough, being positive.”
Vasquez is the first ACC player to have at least 2,000 points, 700 assists and 600 rebounds. He now has 2,013 points to trail only Juan Dixon, Len Bias, Albert King, Adrian Branch and John Lucas on Maryland’s career list.
Eric Hayes scored 15 for Maryland and Jordan Williams had nine points and 12 rebounds. The victory gave the Terrapins (19-7, 9-3) sole possession of second place in the ACC.
Favors had 21 points and 18 rebounds, both season highs, and Iman Shumpert scored 17 for the Yellow Jackets (18-9, 6-7). Georgia Tech is 1-6 on the road in the ACC and has lost nine straight to Maryland since February 2004.
Tucker’s shot ruined an otherwise outstanding performance by the Yellow Jackets.
“I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it,” Favors said.
“We probably played our best game of the season,” coach Paul Hewitt said. “What are you going to say? The kid made a miraculous shot.”
After watching his team struggle on the road for much of the season, Hewitt was encouraged by Tech’s performance in defeat.
“We did everything you’re supposed to do against a team that’s better than anybody in our league with the exception of Duke,” he said. “I think we’re on the verge of something big.”
Maryland improved to 12-1 at home, including 6-0 in the conference.
Hayes hit a 3-pointer with 1:19 left to give Maryland a 71-68 lead. After Favors made a layup, Dino Gregory botched a layup for the Terrapins. Favors pulled down his 17th rebound for the Yellow Jackets, who took a timeout to set up a play.
D’Andre Bell scored on a drive with 24.5 seconds remaining and Vasquez followed with a shot in the lane before Favors scored, setting up Tucker’s game-winner.
After trailing 41-35 early in the second half, Georgia Tech took its first lead since 22-20 when Shumpert sank two free throws with 6:12 remaining to make it 62-60. After a miss by Maryland’s Landon Milbourne, Shumpert missed on the other end.
But teammate Glen Rice Jr. got the rebound, causing Gary Williams to peel off his suit jacket and throw it on the floor in disgust. D’Andre Bell then drilled a 3-pointer for a 65-60 lead.
Maryland got three points apiece from Jordan Williams and Tucker to even the score.
Favors had 11 points and eight rebounds in the first half, but Maryland used a late run to go up 34-32 at the break.
Vasquez scored on Maryland’s first possession, then reached the 2,000-point mark with a 3-pointer with 14:55 left in the half. He added two free throws to make it 9-4, but Shumpert scored twice from beyond the arc during a 7-0 run that put Georgia Tech in front.