- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2001

GEORGIA TECH 72, MARYLAND 62

ATLANTA Maryland has another meltdown to add to its growing collection of disasters.

The Terps left Alexander Memorial Coliseum in another state of disbelief after blowing a double-digit lead and watching Georgia Tech pull off a 72-62 upset last night. No. 13 Maryland was sloppy as it fell apart, while the Yellow Jackets kept their cool, outscoring the hapless Terps 38-17 to close the game.

"We have got to care more," Terps shooting guard Juan Dixon said after his team turned the ball over 23 times. "Right now, we don't care enough. It's killing us. We're not caring enough. I don't know why."

Georgia Tech center Alvin Jones got Maryland's top four big men in foul trouble, and Terps center Lonny Baxter fouled out with 8:15 remaining. Jones, a versatile 6-foot-11 center, totaled 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks and intimidated the Terps with his defensive presence. Jones, who took only five shots, kept the Yellow Jackets in the game until Tony Akins warmed up, nailing several 3-pointers in the final minutes. The point guard matched a season high with 28 points on 8-for-11 shooting and drained all three of his 3-point attempts.

The Terps shot a mere eight free throws, a clear sign of their lack of aggression, while Georgia Tech (13-8, 5-5) shot 32 as it strengthened its case for the NCAA tournament. Maryland (15-7, 6-4) has lost three of its past four, a slump that began when it blew a 10-point lead to then-second-ranked Duke with under a minute to play Jan. 27. And things don't get any easier: Maryland visits top-ranked North Carolina on Saturday.

"We have been inconsistent with our enthusiasm," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who was at a loss to explain his club's lack of interest. "We have to be a hungry team out there on the court. I didn't think we were that hungry coming into the game."

Juan Dixon had a team-high 18 points but was quiet down the stretch. Power forward Terence Morris also was silent as the Yellow Jackets pulled away. Overall, Morris missed 13 of 17 shots and finished with nine points, 13 rebounds and six turnovers. Baxter was not a factor as he piled up touch fouls, finishing with three points, seven rebounds and three turnovers in 20 minutes.

"We were just not focused coming out," said Baxter, who sat hunched over with bloodshot eyes in the locker room. "It hurts. It can't happen like this."

Point guard Steve Blake failed to settle the Terps and was routinely beaten off the dribble by Akins. One of the few bright sports for Maryland was Drew Nicholas, who had 15 points and several big 3s.

The Yellow Jackets worked themselves back into the game with a 12-3 run that gave them a 60-56 advantage. A backdoor layup by Shaun Fein off an assist from Marvin Lewis (12 points) gave the Yellow Jackets a 55-53 lead with 7:08 left. After Nicholas gave Maryland its final lead with a deep 3-pointer, Akins blew past Blake for a layup, drew a foul and converted a 3-pointer.

The Terps knotted the game at 60-60 on a midrange jumper by Dixon before Georgia Tech closed the game on a 12-2 run. A foul shot by Jones gave the Yellow Jackets the lead for good before a turnover by Morris led to a 3-pointer by Fein.

A layup by Nicholas cut it to two with 1:42 left before Akins scored seven straight points to notch the win. Akins' next 3-pointer was devastating; he nailed a 22-footer with Dixon's hand in his face just before the shot clock expired.

The Terps seemed to pull away at the start of the second half, scoring the first five points. A follow slam by Baxter made it 45-34 before Maryland got careless with the ball and the Yellow Jackets scored nine straight. Akins closed the stretch with a 3 to cut Maryland's lead to 45-43 with 15:20 left.

The Terps led 40-34 at halftime after a sloppy half by both teams, who routinely struggled to inbound the ball. Georgia Tech had 11 turnovers in the period, while Maryland had nine.

Nicholas broke a 32-32 tie with an NBA-range 3-pointer from the right win. Nicholas added a 22-footer from the left corner on Maryland's next possession for a six-point lead, part of a 19-5 run to end the half.

The Terps began the comeback with Jones on the bench with two fouls. Maryland made five of 11 3-pointers before the break.

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