- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 14, 2001

It made sense that the Maryland Terrapins, fresh off two games at Madison Square Garden against top competition, weren't at the top of their play in the first half of an exhibition game last night. That didn't mean the Terps accepted it.
Maryland stumbled early but came on in the second half in beating Nike Elite 99-67 before an announced 10,000 at Cole Field House. The Terps won, but they looked every bit like a team that had had its fill of the preseason.
The Terps did what they needed to: They won in a blowout, didn't get anybody seriously hurt and played a lot of players. Now it's back to the regular season, which resumes Saturday at Cole against American.
Lonny Baxter led No. 2 Maryland with game highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Byron Mouton added 18 points. Steve Blake had nine points and 10 assists.
Maryland led by 11 following a sluggish first half but picked it up in the second, outscoring the visitors 21-4 in the first five minutes to forge a 60-32 lead. The Terps looked unsure of themselves at times in the opening half but quickly asserted themselves after halftime.
Blake, who scored a career-high 20 points Friday in a victory over Temple, hesitated on several plays in the first 11 minutes, passing up two open shots close to the basket and completely flubbing another layup. Coach Gary Williams took him out with 9:40 to go before halftime and sat him about six minutes.
In the first six minutes of the second half, however, Blake went 4-for-4 from the floor, had two assists and a steal and helped put away Nike Elite, which played its fourth game in a week.
"We got a little more hungry in the second half. We wanted to prove it to ourselves that we could really play," Blake said. "I took it personally that I didn't play well and did some bad things in the first half."
Said Williams: "When [Blake] doesn't have that intensity level going, he's not as good. And that's where the turnovers come in. … In the first half, we were a little flat as a team."
Among the positives for the Terps was the play of Mouton, who took the ball to the basket aggressively, delivered the same kind of burst of energy he often provided last season and put up 11 first-half points. Mouton said his teammates asked him to jump-start the Terps emotionally. He responded, even if the Terps didn't see the results until the second half, when they scored 60 points on 55.6 percent shooting.
"If we played the second half like the first half, we'd be doing sprints through the whole practice [today]," Mouton said. "We wanted to play like we were supposed to."
Chris Wilcox continued to show signs of his frightening leaping ability, hammering home a first-half dunk from about 10 feet away. Wilcox (11 points, five rebounds, 21 minutes) added an alley-oop from reserve guard Andre Collins while falling away from the basket in the final minutes. Tahj Holden (12 points, five rebounds, 22 minutes) got the start at power forward.
Collins had a shaky first-half, committing three turnovers in three minutes. Williams had said he wanted to work Collins into the regular rotation meaning the Terps could go 10 deep but Collins didn't look ready for that last night.
Williams, unhappy with the Terps' play at times in the first half, called two timeouts to address the problems. The first came after Nike Elite cut an eight-point deficit to 21-18 with 9:40 left in the first half. Williams called the second after his team gave up two easy layups near the end of the half to reduce their lead to 37-28. The Terps got few turnovers off their press and allowed some easy baskets.
"It took us a while to get going, which we can't afford to do during the season," Williams said.


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