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Offensive adjustments spark Terps turnaround

Slow and steady wins the race.

Over the last two seasons, Maryland has started sluggishly in the ACC only to rebound late in the year.

Last season, the Terrapins bounced back from a 3-6 conference start by winning their last seven games of the regular season.

After home losses to American and Ohio in December and an 0-2 conference start this year, Maryland has won six of its last seven games to surge into third place in the ACC, just one game behind North Carolina.

The Terrapins' one loss during that stretch, however, was a 93-84 setback to the first-place Blue Devils Jan. 27.

"Each year you have to figure out what's best for your team," Terrapins head coach Gary Williams said in Monday's media teleconference. "We lost a lot of scoring last year off the team and we had to make up for that, and it's taken a while to do that."

Williams cited the maturation of his backcourt and better shot selection as the keys to his team's offensive development. The result has been clear, as Maryland has shot better than 50 percent from the field in each of its last five games.

That offensive rhythm has coincided with the return of combo guard Eric Hayes, who has helped relieve the pressure on Greivis Vasquez in the backcourt. Hayes has averaged 6.6 assists per game since coming back to the starting lineup after suffering an ankle injury the first week in January.

Vasquez himself has rebounded from a difficult start to the season. The guard still leads the ACC in turnovers with 100 on the year but has cut down on the miscues during the Terrapins' winning streak. Vasquez has had more assists than turnovers in each of his last six games, and the sophomore owns an assist-to-turnover ratio of more than two-to-one in that period.

"Experience has something to do with that," Williams said of Vasquez's recently improved play. "This year, there's been more responsibility on him to play well. There were some games where he was in the learning curve and didn't play particularly well early and had a lot of turnovers. But he's learned, like all good players do, and he's become very efficient with the ball."

With Vasquez and Hayes running the show, senior post players James Gist and Bambale Osby have become more productive. Gist and Osby were especially destructive against Duke, combining for 46 points and 20 rebounds in the first meeting.

The Terrapins hope that a repeat performance on the interior leads to a different result Wednesday night.


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