- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 1, 2002

The Maryland Terrapins are still awaiting a real challenge.
Coach Gary Williams expected Duquesne to toughen Maryland for a harsh coming schedule. Instead, the No.11 Terps (3-0) reeled off early 9-0, 8-0 and 10-0 runs en route to an easy 89-39 victory over the Dukes (1-3) last night at Comcast Center.
"I was really pleased with the way we came out," Williams said. "I never expected the game to go like that."
It was the Terps' final tuneup of an opening three-game home stand before a rugged upcoming four games. Maryland plays at No.19 Indiana on Tuesday, Notre Dame on Saturday and possibly No.3 Texas on Dec.8, plus No.7 Florida on Dec.14.
Naturally, talk quickly turned to Indiana in the rematch of last season's NCAA Championship won by Maryland.
"Indiana obviously has the natural edge," Williams said. "We need somebody to come after us. We'll know more about our team Tuesday night."
Said guard Drew Nicholas: "This is how we're supposed to play going into Indiana."
Duquesne didn't offer Maryland any more competition than the latter's earlier victories over Miami (Ohio) and The Citadel. The Terps have allowed just 137 points in three games, the fewest since 131 in 1944. Maryland also has held opponents to less than 33 percent shooting over three games for the first time since 1953.
Maryland led 50-19 at intermission without much stress. Nicholas scored his 19 points in the first half while guard Steve Blake delivered 10 of his 13 assists. Maryland's high-tempo game on both ends kept Duquesne from ever gaining any momentum.
Maryland seemed intent on working the ball inside to center Ryan Randle (16 points) and forward Tahj Holden (four). Randle delivered a pair of Maryland's five first-half dunks, while Holden's only two baskets were dunks. Holden was only two of five and is just three of 14 this season but did manage six steals against the Dukes.
"[Holden] was a lot more active," Williams said. "He looked more like his old self a lot quicker."
Maryland relied mainly on its guards and fastbreak. Nicholas worked the right side for three early 3-pointers, while Blake delivered two alley-oop passes for dunks. The pair seemed to feed off each other on the break with Nicholas often finishing off a Blake assist. Blake didn't score, missing four shots that included three 3-point attempts.
"He's probably the most unselfish player I've met in terms of not caring if he scores," Nicholas said. "His eyes start moving around trying to figure out who's hot."
Defensively, Maryland forced 20 first-half turnovers and 35 overall. The Terps led 19-3 after 5:07 with Duquesne managing only a free throw and a hook shot. The Terps simply relied on dunks or fastbreaks aside from Nicholas' 3-pointer.
With a reserve frontcourt on the floor at the start ot the second half, the Terps scored only on forward Jamar Smith's free throw over the opening 4:22 before forward Travis Garrison's 5-footer.
But Maryland inserted Holden and Randle with 15:10 remaining, and Holden soon scored on a tip-in and Randle on a dunk. Maryland then started running for a 12-0 streak, with guard Chris McCray and Nik Caner-Medley scoring on three-point plays for a 67-28 edge with 10:33 left.
Maryland is still trying to intermix its seniors and freshmen, but the pairings are starting to become more fluid.
"It's good to see the young guys starting to blend in with the older players," Williams said. "I think we can combine the two groups now without too many problems."
The student section chanted "air ball" relentlessly throughout the second half as Duquesne couldn't work inside for its shots. The Dukes went 4:17 without scoring before guard Tyler Bluemling's two free throws with 5:36 left made the score 74-32.


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