- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 28, 2001

This time, Maryland delivered the blows.
The fifth-ranked Terrapins were too fast and too physical for Illinois last night. The result was a 76-63 win over the No. 2 Illini in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge before a steamy, packed house of 14,500 at Cole Field House.
Juan Dixon led the way with 25 points, but it was reserve forward Chris Wilcox who stole the show with an array of dazzling dunks, half-hook shots and key rebounds. The 6-foot-10 sophomore finished with 19 points on eight of 13 shooting and six rebounds, often filling for center Lonny Baxter (five points in 18 minutes), who was saddled with foul trouble in the second half before finally fouling out.
Illinois (5-1) is known as a power team that had embarrassed the Terps last season in the preseason Maui Invitational. This time, although the Illini held a modest advantage (four rebounds), the Terps were more physical and finished with 10 blocked shots.
"Last year in Maui, they outrebounded us by 18," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "I remember that and I reminded our players of that. It's great to see we can rebound with a big team like Illinois."
Terps power forward Tahj Holden played strong and neutralized the banging Illini as Maryland (4-1) won its fourth straight and improved the nation's longest homecourt non-conference winning streak to 80 games. Point guard Steve Blake totaled 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots and did a superb job defending Illinois preseason All-American Frank Williams. Illinois shot 37 percent for the game, with Williams finishing with 10 points on 3-for-16 shooting.
"We showed people that we are tough," said Dixon, who was disappointed in the team's lackluster win on Saturday against Delaware State.
Dixon was often part of a three-guard lineup with Blake and Drew Nicholas (12 points), who had his best game of the season. The trio was on the court for stretches of the second half with reserve forwards Ryan Randle and Wilcox.
"Chris can rebound, he can score, he can play defense," Holden said. "To have a guy that can do all those things and is as athletic at 6-9 as he is makes him very dangerous."
Maryland did an excellent job on defense, particularly on the highly touted backcourt of Williams and Cory Bradford (eight points, 4-for-14). The Terps stayed in a man-to-man defense, and limited the Illini from getting easy baskets inside. Maryland outscored Illinois 46-28 in the paint.
The only downside was that Maryland continues to struggle from the foul line, where it made just 12-of-24. That allowed Illinois to hang around late, even though it never got closer than eight after Maryland pulled away in the first half.
The Terps built a 20-point lead early in the second half after a seven-point run. Blake hit a 3-pointer over the zone, then Dixon added a layup and a short runner off a nice feed from Blake to make it 51-31 shortly after halftime.
Illinois later used a 16-7 run to get back into it as the Terps went cold. Sean Harrington nailed an NBA 3-pointer with just under five minutes remaining to cut Maryland's margin to 64-56. The Illini again cut the margin to eight on a Bradford runner with 2:59 left, before Holden's entry pass led to Wilcox's short hook to end the threat.
"Wilcox just owned us inside," Illini coach Bill Self said.
The Terps led 41-29 at the half after taking control with a 12-point run. Maryland was too fast and strong on the boards while erasing a 17-10 deficit with the dozen. Dixon began the stretch with a putback on Maryland's third shot in the series. A spinning layup by Wilcox cut the lead to one, and Blake's pull-up 3-pointer gave the Terps the lead for good. Byron Mouton's trey from the left wing made it 22-17 with 8:55 left in the first half.
A layup in traffic by Nicholas started a later eight-point run by the Terps. Dixon scored the next two field goals as Maryland built a 34-23 advantage. The Terps continued the tear and closed the half in dominating fashion with an overall 31-12 run.
Dixon had 13 points before the break, while Blake had six assists. Maryland had a 24-19 rebounding advantage, including eight offensive boards. Wilcox led the squad with five rebounds. Illinois talented backcourt of Williams and Bradford shot a combined 3-for-16.


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