- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2002

The mystique of the Tar Heels melted away inside Maryland's pressure cooker.
Whether it was the swarming fullcourt press or the swarming man-to-man defense, the fourth-ranked Terrapins made legendary North Carolina look more like woeful cupcake than one of sports' most storied programs last night. Maryland won 112-79. The 112 points are the most anyone has ever scored against the Tar Heels, and the 33-point margin was one of the worst losses suffered by the Tar Heels.
"Who are those guys?" said Maryland point guard Steve Blake, who had a career-high 13 assists, 12 points and nine rebounds. "They are just another team. North Carolina is nothing special. We enjoyed it."
Terps guard Juan Dixon found his long-range shooting touch and was a defensive pest all night against Carolina's helpless backcourt. The preseason All-American finished with a season-high 29 points and matched a career-best with eight steals. Teammate Chris Wilcox continued his evolution into one of the ACC's most exciting players with his above-the-rim style of play, complete with alley-oops and swatting shots into the stands. The high-flying sophomore closed with 16 points and three blocks in the dominating effort before 14,500 at Cole Field House.
"What can I say?" said Tar Heels coach Matt Doherty, after his alma mater suffered its worst ACC loss in 33 seasons. "It's a very difficult experience. It's hard to imagine there are better teams than Maryland's basketball team. I thought the way they shot it, the way they pressured they just swarm you and they are so big and powerful."
The Terps (12-2, 2-0 ACC) won their fourth straight in rousing fashion even without a fully recovered Lonny Baxter, who started despite nursing a sprained right ankle. The center finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes, and seemed more comfortable as the game went along.
North Carolina continued its miseries by getting blown out for a second straight game, after losing by 22 to Wake Forest last Saturday in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels' stretch of making 27 straight NCAA tournaments is definitely in jeopardy this forgettable season.
It was North Carolina's worst loss in ACC history. The worst had been a 104-69 Duke win in Chapel Hill on Feb.24, 1969. Dixon made 5-of-8 3-pointers, and Maryland set a program mark with 13 treys. The Terps shot 57 percent (13-of-23) from behind the arc, and had 32 assists. Jason Capel led the Tar Heels with 27 points, but it wasn't nearly enough as Maryland guards dominated the young Tar Heels backcourt.
"That's crazy," said Dixon, who broke out of a minor shooting slump. "Our guys at the end of the bench got in with 10 minutes left. We came out and attacked early. That was our plan to attack early from both ends of the floor."
Dixon had 12 points as Maryland broke out to a 21-8 lead and was never threatened again. The senior sniper's second 3-pointer gave Maryland a 14-6 lead. He followed that up by easily dribbling around a defender for a baseline jumper, and used a steal in the passing lane to set up his own breakaway layup to make it 19-8. Dixon sank two free throws the result of a technical on the hapless Carolina coach to make it a 13-point advantage.
"Our defense keyed everything tonight," Maryland coach Gary Williams said, who downplayed the significance of the massive victory. "We were able to get the tempo to where we wanted it. When you work really hard defensively like we did tonight, things open up offensively."
The fast start was only the beginning as Maryland had its way all night long, leading 57-37 at the half and coasting from there. The Terps shot 59 percent in the first half, mainly from close range off of North Carolina's 15 turnovers (25 overall). Dixon had 20 points and six steals at the break, while Wilcox and Byron Mouton (17 points) each had 12 for the Terps. Maryland also held a 23-11 rebounding advantage in the half, with nine offensive rebounds.
After the Tar Heels cut the lead to 21-13 on a Jawad Williams layup, Maryland sealed the game with 22-5 run as it proved too quick, too athletic and too experienced for the visitors. Wilcox started the run with two free throws, before Dixon stole an inbounds pass and converted a layup. A 3-pointer by Tahj Holden widened the lead to 15. A steal by Wilcox at midcourt set up a Drew Nicholas layup. Steve Blake's deep 3-pointer made it 35-16. Another steal by Dixon led to a Mouton layup to make it 43-20 with 8:30 left in the half.
The second half continued the highlight reel. Wilcox's breakaway slam coming down from the rafters provided the exclamation point by giving Maryland a 93-59 lead with 7:23 remaining.
"Last year, North Carolina beat us twice. That was definitely motivation," Dixon said. "In the past, they would definitely play us tough for 40 minutes. For us to come out and dominate like we did …"

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