- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 19, 2002

DURHAM, N.C. Maryland guard Juan Dixon left Cameron Indoor Stadium with glazed eyes after being shut down in the arena he owned the past two seasons. Center Lonny Baxter couldn't wait to start thinking about the Terrapins' next game, wishing it somehow would make Thursday night's late-game horrors vanish.

Coach Gary Williams was left to stew in a cramped locker room in Cameron's basement as Duke counterpart Mike Krzyzewski held him hostage by taking an extended period of time before attending his news conference and thereby delaying Williams' obligatory appearance.

The third-ranked Terrapins didn't score a field goal in the final 7:57 of their 99-78 loss to top-ranked Duke. Jason Williams shredded the defense with 34 points and eight assists, and Mike Dunleavy delivered the knockout blows as he scored 19 points in the second half. Maryland committed 21 turnovers, seven of those steals by Dunleavy. Meanwhile, Duke was rarely bothered and had just three turnovers after halftime.

"We just didn't play tough," said Baxter, who led Maryland with 24 points. "We let them get hot. That was it."

Maryland came to Duke to make a statement that it can compete with the Blue Devils for the ACC and national championships. That may still happen, but it was hard to imagine such an optimistic outlook given the stunned, sobering looks the Terps wore as they left Duke's arena. Maryland has lost three straight to Duke, including defeats in the ACC tournament and Final Four last season. The next match is Feb. 17 in College Park.

The Terps (13-3, 3-1 ACC) will try to regroup tomorrow when Clemson (11-7, 2-3) visits Cole Field House. "We have to keep this in perspective," Williams said after his team was outscored 30-6 on points off turnovers. "The next 12 [conference games] are important."

Many Terps had off games, including Steve Blake (eight assists, six turnovers) and Tahj Holden (no points, one rebound in 18 minutes), but the most troubling part was how Dixon was a non-factor. The team's leading scorer had just 10 points on two of nine shooting and seemed to disappear on the floor.

The 6-foot-3 senior was the catalyst in Maryland's upsets of Duke in Cameron the past two seasons. He had 28 here last season after notching 31 as a sophomore. On Thursday, Duke's Dahntay Jones used his 6-6, 210-pound frame to grind down Dixon, who is some 50 pounds lighter.

"He forced me out a little further [on the perimeter]," said Dixon, who attempted just two field goals in the second half.

Dixon also was part of an overall defensive breakdown that saw Jason Williams regularly use dribble penetration, resulting in easy baskets for him and others. The National Player of the Year was a step quicker all night and easily drove past defenders, particularly Blake, who seemed fixated on not yielding 3-pointers.

"We were up by one at halftime [49-48]," said Dixon. "In the second half, I started off [covering] Jason Williams. He really set the tone offensively for those guys. He got to the cupboard a couple times. He made some layups, and he created for his teammates. That's what hurt us. Next time I am going to take a little more pride in my defense and stop him from getting to the hole and make him take tough shots."

The Terps had matched Duke's intensity heading into the second half, and even led 58-57 after a layup by Baxter. However, the Blue Devils answered with the 30th and final lead change on a slashing layup by Williams, who scored seven straight to start a 17-6 run. The 6-9 Dunleavy added four points on inside baskets as Duke went up 73-63.

"When Jason plays like this, we can roll with anybody," said Dunleavy, who had seven rebounds in the second half. "He makes shots from anywhere."

Maryland responded with a seven-point run to cut it to 73-70 on a 12-foot jumper by Drew Nicholas (12 points on 5-for-6 shooting), one of the Terps' few bright spots along with reserve center Ryan Randle, who had seven points and six rebounds in 12 minutes.

But Dunleavy answered with a jumper, and nailed a 3-pointer after a turnover by Baxter. Williams made the play with a drive that drew the defense and crosscourt bounce pass to the open wing. Williams made it 80-73 after stealing a perimeter pass from Blake and finishing with a breakaway dunk. By then, Duke had finished the game on a 26-8 run.

"We knew Duke would score. We felt we had to score with them," Gary Williams said. "The last two years we scored enough and had a couple stops and took [the lead] out enough to win the game. [This time], we couldn't score like that in the second half."

Note Thursday's game drew ESPN's largest audience ever for a regular-season college basketball game nearly 3 million TV homes. The 2,971,520 households is about 115,000 more than tuned in for a game between Georgetown and St. John's on Feb. 27, 1985. The game drew a 3.46 cable rating (each point represents about 860,000 homes).

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