- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2001

MARYLAND 95, N.C. STATE 66

What a difference a week makes.

Maryland was booed off its own floor at halftime of last Wednesday's embarrassing loss to Florida State. Last night it was showered with a standing ovation as it took a well-earned break between periods.

The No. 20 Terps blazed through the first half to start a 95-66 thumping of N.C. State before a nearly full house at Cole Field House. In the span of less than five days, Maryland has gone from a unconfident team fading out of NCAA contention to a team that has posted consecutive blowout wins and is brimming with confidence.

Juan Dixon scored 30 points on 11-for-12 shooting to lead a torrid shooting performance. The Terps make their first eight shots, and the shooting guard made all five of his first half shots as Maryland built a 47-30 halftime lead before the turning the game into a laugher after the break.

"I felt like a different player coming into the game," said Dixon, who has made a recent habit of practicing his shooting late at night to break out of a slump. "I was in the joint until 1 a.m. [yesterday morning]."

Dixon, a junior, became the fifth player in Maryland history to have five games with at least 30 points and made four of five 3-pointers. But he was just one part of an overpowering engine last night. The Terps used an impressive interior passing game to amass 26 assists. Point guard Steve Blake set up the attack and finished with a season-high 15 points, nine assists,six rebounds and no turnovers. Power forward Terence Morris had six assists, resulting in easy scores for teammates.

The Terps (17-9, 8-6 ACC) shot a whopping 59 percent while holding the Wolfpack (12-13, 4-9) to 36.5 percent. Just like that, Maryland has gone from looking like a team in a freefall to one resembling the Top 10 team many expected this season. The Terps thrashed 24th-ranked Wake Forest by 16 on the road Saturday to begin their resurgence.

"We just needed one game to get us over the hump," Dixon said. "The Wake game did that. Our confidence is sky-high right now."

Maryland had 15 assists in the first half thanks to some excellent interior passing by the big men, particularly Morris, who had five assists before halftime.

The Terps swept the Wolfpack with two easy wins this season and were able to clear their bench last night without slowing the attack. Maryland has won 19 of its past 22 against N.C. State, and Gary Williams is 12-0 against the Wolfpack in College Park.

"We had 26 assists and nine turnovers," said Williams, who had Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick give the team a pregame pep talk. "That's a tremendous ratio. We're leading the ACC in assists, and when we pass the ball we are a good team… . You have to understand how hard it is to come through what we've had to come through."

Blake started the domination with a 3-pointer from the left wing on the game's first possession. Byron Mouton (12 points) hit two pull-up jumpers as the Terps started to pull away and ran back down the court with a confident smirk on his face. Dixon stole the ball and dribbled it three-quarters of the court for a layup to make it 13-4, forcing N.C. State coach Herb Sendek to call a timeout. Dixon walked to the bench with a wide smile on his face.

It was only the beginning.

Maryland went ahead 20-6 on a Morris layup on a three-on-zero break started by a Dixon steal. The Terps used a fullcourt press early on to set the tempo and score easy baskets. While the Terps began the game sizzling, the Wolfpack made just four of their first 16 shots.

The Terps went up 26-9 on a Chris Wilcox free throw and never let up. A surprising baseline jumper by Lonny Baxter (12 points) showed how well things were going for Maryland and gave the home team a 38-19 bulge. Baxter also showed off his passing skills, drawing two defenders before dishing to a wide-open Tahj Holden to make it 43-22 late in the period.

"We're a different team," Dixon said. "Our approach is different to the game. We have a different attitude in the locker room. Everything is different."

And there would be no second-half letdown this time.

A 15-footer by Blake off the break made it 52-33. The Terps built that lead to 68-39 on a 9-2 run early in the second half as Dixon scored all nine of those points. He capped it by running down an outlet pass and throwing up a difficult underhand layup while being fouled before sinking the foul shot.

It was that kind of night. The Terps have been reincarnated as a dangerous animal after being nearly left for dead.

"Life is a lot better," Holden said. "It's easier to do everything, to go to class, to sleep. People around campus aren't asking what happened and saying the refs robbed us. They can't do that when we're winning by 30."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide