When Maryland men?s basketball had a 2-5 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference, head coach Gary Williams believed in his team.
Since that point, the Terps (21-7, 7-6 ACC) have been on a 5-1 stretch in the conference and have been playing some of the best basketball in the league.
Sunday, the Terps will host the highest ranked opponent that they have played all season with No. 5 North Carolina (24-4, 10-3) coming into the Comcast Center at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
Williams will prepare his team for the Tar Heels like any other opponent, but he knows every win builds on itself this time of the year.
"Each game is an experience and hopefully we will gain momentum each game we win this time of year," Williams said. "We were not happy at 2-5 and we did not want to quit. We just kept working hard and tried to find a way to get better."
Improvement lies in practice and junior James Gist will testify to how hard the Terps have dedicated themselves.
"Coach is fighting more and more, each time weplay better he wants us to be perfect," Gist said. "He is going to push as hard as he can to make us as good as we can be."
Gist knows how big every game is as the regular season winds down, but playing against the No. 5 team in the nation, he and the Terps know what they will be facing.
The Tar Heels have outscored their opponents by over 20 points a game this season and are being led in scoring by sophomore forward Tyler Hansbrough?s 18.6 points a night. Hansbrough also leads the team in rebounding with over seven a game.
The Terps will also have to deal with freshman guard and Clinton, Md. native Ty Lawson. In his first season, Lawson is scoring over ten points a game and helps generate much of the Tar Heel offense with his 5.2 assists per game.
NORTH CAROLINA BLUES
» North Carolina has a five-game winning streak running against the Terps dating back to Feb. 15, 2004.
» D.J. Strawberry only had 10 points in the Terps? win over Florida State Wednesday. All ten points came in the second half, six of them in the first 1:36.
» James Gist has worked hard to distinguish himself this year. He has scored 10 points or more in eight consecutive games with an average of 12.9 on the season.