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Terps fade late against Virginia, 61-53

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The Maryland Terrapins gave the host Virginia Cavaliers a scare before fading down the stretch, falling 61-53.

The Terps jumped out to an early lead and actually took a one-point advantage into the locker room thanks to some great outside shooting and another strong first half from Seth Allen.

In the second half, the Cavaliers seemed to rachet things up on the defensive end while the Terps started to take some poor shots. Maryland fell behind by double-digits late in the game, but cut the deficit to four with under two minutes to play. Evan Smotrycz actually had a chance to cut the lead to one, but his three-point attempt was halfway down and popped back out, a microcosm of the Terps season.

The bottom line for Maryland is that they continue to have rely on the outside shot to win games, and it was more evident than ever against the Cavaliers. Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell and Jonathan Graham combined for just two baskets. When your big guys are such a small part of your offense, it's going to be extremely difficult to score on a consistent basis.

It seemed like every shot the Terps took, especially in the second half, was a difficult, contested shot. Even commentator Jay Bilas noted how it seemed like Maryland had to work for everything on the offensive end and could not find a way to get an easy basket.

The game was actually somewhat reminiscent of last year's regular season finale in Charlottesville, another tight game that ended when Dez Wells missed an attempt at a game-tying three-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

The guard play has probably improved a bit from last year, as Allen is really starting to blossom, and the Terps are a better outside shooting team thanks to Smotrycz and Jake Layman, who missed much of the second half after being inadvertently hit in the eye. It makes you wonder where this team could be had Alex Len not elected to enter the NBA Draft.

Len would have helped so much defensively and on the boards, as well as given Maryland an inside scoring presence. His ability to step away from the basket would have also opened things up for players to attack the rim off the dribble. In fact, Maryland is very likely an NCAA tournament team and even quite possibly ranked in the top 25. Instead, it's become clear throughout the year, particularly on the defensive end, how many deficiences Len covered up with his size.

The Terps have played better defensively of late, but they gave up some ridiculously easy baskets in the second half. It's still a team that struggles to give maximum effort both physically and mentally on every possession.

Things don't get any easier for the Terps, who now travel to Durham to face the Duke Blue Devils, a team suddenly playing much better basketball. The silver lining is that Maryland still doesn't have a marquee win on its resume and Duke certainly provides them with that opportunity.

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