- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 13, 2002

The Maryland Terrapins' toughest battles today might be with complacency and a natural tendency to look ahead.
The fourth-ranked Terps will visit unheralded Georgia Tech in a routine game sandwiched between last week's historic blowout of North Carolina and Thursday night's trip to No. 2 Duke in the first meeting of last season's Final Four rivals.
The young Yellow Jackets (7-9, 0-3 ACC) are hardly a team that figures to threaten the nation's top squads. Paul Hewitt's Georgia Tech team is struggling with confidence. It has lost four of its last five, including a defeat by some outfit called IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis). Duke obliterated the Yellow Jackets by 25 the last time out.
"You try not to look ahead," said Maryland guard Drew Nicholas, who already has seen the television promotions and Dickie V's high-volume anticipation for Thursday's game at Duke. "We just have to be mature about it."
The Terps (12-2, 2-0) are riding high after their 112-79 destruction of North Carolina, their fourth straight win. Maryland players watched Duke, which had suffered a stunning upset at Florida State in its previous game, completely dominate Georgia Tech 104-79 in a game that wasn't as close as the final score. Even Don King would have a hard time hyping Tech these days. Maryland players didn't bother to try.
"They are not very big," said bulky center Lonny Baxter, who is nearly fully recovered from a sprained ankle. "Duke destroyed them. [Blue Devils center Carlos] Boozer destroyed them by himself inside. It would be to our advantage to go inside."
Maryland coach Gary Williams has reminded his team that the Terps lost at Georgia Tech the last two seasons, including a particularly embarrassing defeat last February. But the Yellow Jackets graduated their starting front line, including All-ACC center Alvin Jones. They do bring back a strong backcourt with point guard Tony Akins and shooting guard Marvin Lewis, who is averaging 13.3 points.
Akins is Georgia Tech's only hope of salvaging the season. The long-range specialist lit up the Terps for 28 points in last season's upset, making eight of 11 field goal attempts and all three of his 3-pointers. The 5-foot-11 senior is averaging 16.1 points this season while making 43 percent of his treys, second in the ACC to Duke's Jason Williams. Maryland came into the weekend leading the league in field goal percentage defense at 37 percent and 3-point defense at 27 percent.
"We have an edge inside," Williams said. "We are bigger and more experienced inside, but 3-pointers go a long way if a team is willing to take 30 3s and can make 13 or 14. You're talking 40 points in a game. So we have to play good defense against the 3-point shot."
The Blue Devils forced the Yellow Jackets into 29 turnovers one night after Maryland forced 25 North Carolina giveaways. Maryland again will turn up its full-court press to rattle Georgia Tech.
"If we go out there and play at our level, I don't think those guys can play with us," said Terps guard Juan Dixon, who had a career-high eight steals to go with his season-high 29 points against North Carolina.
And therein lie the biggest challenges overconfidence and complacency.
"It can be [a problem]," Baxter said. "We're feeling really good about ourselves. We came off a huge win Wednesday night, and are just feeling really confident going down to Georgia Tech."
The Terps maintain they are too mature for a letdown with a starting lineup that has three seniors and a junior. They feel they are experienced enough to handle the situation and only have to look back to the ugly loss to Oklahoma three weeks ago to see what can happen when they are not the aggressors. Everyone else may be pointing toward the showdown at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium, but Maryland's players insist Georgia Tech is their only focus this afternoon.
"We're just trying to get another ACC win and move on," Nicholas said. "By Sunday about 6 o'clock, Duke is going to be our biggest game of the season."
Williams said reserve center Ryan Randle has earned more playing time after scoring nine points on 4-for-4 shooting and grabbing three rebounds in 12 minutes against North Carolina.

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