- The Washington Times - Monday, December 30, 2002

The Maryland newcomers got their first taste of ACC play yesterday and started to realize what it takes to win in the conference physical play, grit, moxie and a little extra something.
So it came as no surprise that late in the second half, with the outcome still in question and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets trying to steal the first ACC game at Comcast Center, the Terrapins turned to their veterans. And they responded.
Seniors Drew Nicholas and Ryan Randle combined to score 11 points in a decisive 3-minute span late in the game to separate the Terps from the pesky Jackets and take an 84-77 victory before a sellout crowd.
Nicholas delivered a career-high 29 points while Randle scored 16 of his 20 in the second half. The Maryland seniors combined for 40 of the team's 48 second-half points.
"When you have seniors, it's an advantage," coach Gary Williams said. "These guys have been through it and know what it takes."
The 23rd-ranked Terps (6-3, 1-0 ACC) trailed for a total of 1:11 in the second half, the last time at the 13:43 mark, but Georgia Tech consistently remained within striking distance. The Jackets climbed to within two points, 63-61, with 7:20 to play before Nicholas and Randle got it going.
Randle scored on a post move and again on a slick step-back jumper on the Terps' next possession. Then it was Nicholas, first spinning in a leaning bank shot and then a 3-pointer from 23 feet. Randle capped the Terps' 11-4 run with a driving shot that gave them a 74-65 lead with 3:01 to go.
"When stuff started to get testy, we started to look to go to me or Ryan," Nicholas said. "It was just a fight. Every time down, we were just looking for the next defensive stop and we were coming down and scoring."
Another senior, Tahj Holden, didn't score as much as his classmates but still had a bearing on the game. The 6-foot-10 forward missed a week of practice and Maryland's game Monday against Maryland-Baltimore County because of a death in the family. The Terps played well in winning by 41 against UMBC, so Holden asked Williams about coming off the bench yesterday.
For a player who has been productive as a reserve throughout his career, Holden's move to the bench made sense. Williams went ahead and started freshman Travis Garrison at power forward and brought Holden off the bench. Holden notched 11 points, including two 3-pointers, and four rebounds in 20 minutes.
Senior guard Steve Blake had seven points and eight assists.
"We played really well last game with Travis in the starting lineup," Holden said. "I didn't want to come back and disrupt things. That's just the way it goes if Coach feels I should start, I'll start. I think we're going to play pretty much about the same amount of time."
Though it was only the first conference game, Maryland sorely needed a victory yesterday after losing to the three ranked teams they had played this season. The Jackets (5-4, 0-1), who have the youngest starting lineup in the conference next to North Carolina, made the Terps work for everything to secure the victory.
Georgia Tech came out firing, storming to an 11-4 lead in the first 5 minutes on the strength of a couple of baskets by prized freshman Chris Bosh (16 points). The Terps, however, responded with nine straight points to take their first lead 12:46 before halftime. The teams stayed close until, with Georgia Tech leading 28-25 with 5:35 to go in the first half, the Terps closed with an 11-2 run to forge a 36-30 lead at the break.
Maryland was fortunate that Georgia Tech's leading scorer, sophomore guard B.J. Elder, was whistled for his second foul with about 12 minutes left in the first half. The foul forced Elder to the bench for almost the rest of the half. He scored 13 points in the second half to finish with a team-high 19, but Elder could have affected the outcome more had he been on the court more than 24 minutes.
Still, Maryland played with some real passion, especially on defense, where it recorded 14 steals and 10 blocks. The young Jackets weren't prepared for the fullcourt pressure the Terps threw at them in the first half, when they had 11 turnovers. Georgia Tech had 20 turnovers for the game, including seven by freshman point guard Jarrett Jack.
One area of concern revealed itself late in the game, when the Terps needed to make free throws to close out their opponent. Instead, they made one of two attempts on seven consecutive trips to the line, allowing the Jackets to hang around longer than necessary.

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