- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 20, 2002

Last January's loss to Duke sent Maryland into a long tailspin that left many wondering whether the Terrapins would even make the NCAA tournament, much less reach the Final Four. The Terps lost five of six games after blowing a 10-point lead with 54 seconds left against the Blue Devils at Cole Field House.
Top-ranked Duke routed Maryland 99-78 Thursday night by pulling away at the end as the No.3 Terps couldn't score or stop the Blue Devils. However, those associated with Maryland basketball believe the aftermath will be different this time.
"This is a different situation," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who was relaxed and cracking jokes Friday afternoon. "This is a situation where they beat us. They earned the win. Last year we felt as a group we allowed them to win that game. We've been beaten before. You just move on."
A victory tonight against Clemson at Cole would leave Maryland (13-3, 3-1 ACC) a mere half-game behind first-place Duke (5-1) in the standings. Clemson (11-7, 2-3) is having an erratic season. The Tigers defeated No.10 Virginia and Georgia Tech but also lost to Winthrop and Yale.
The Terps will try to get back to how they were playing before the second-half setback against Duke. Maryland had won five straight and 13 of 14 before entering Cameron Indoor Stadium. Now the team hopes to make the Blue Devils experience merely a glitch during a terrific season rather than a defining moment.
"The one good thing about a veteran team is we've been through this Duke thing before," Williams said.
Juan Dixon is one of many Terps, including Steve Blake, Byron Mouton and Tahj Holden, hoping to recover against Clemson. Dixon (18.7-point average) was well on his way to an all-American season before being limited to 10 points on 2-for-9 shooting at Duke. The senior blamed himself for many of Thursday's deficiencies, including being part of an overall porous defensive effort that lacked intensity.
"I'm going to be fine," Dixon said. "I'm not going to hold my head down."
While Maryland's starters struggled, there were positives signs off the bench.
Center Ryan Randle proved he is comfortable in big games with seven points and six rebounds in 12 minutes as he bids for more time in the rotation.
Another encouraging sign was the play of Drew Nicholas, who missed several free throws and had a key turnover in Duke's comeback at Cole last season. Nicholas' confidence and play waned for weeks after that loss. This time the junior guard had 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting and grabbed five rebounds while filling in mainly for the struggling Mouton.
"Drew played pretty well down there last year, which really helped him," said Williams, referring to Maryland's upset victory last February. "To walk in there [Thursday] and do what he did was great to see. He not only shot it well, he handled the ball pretty well when Blake was out."
Clemson has lost two in a row and is coming off an 80-79 home defeat by N.C. State. The Tigers blew a five-point lead with under two minutes to play and lost when the Wolfpack's Josh Powell had a tip-in with two seconds left.
The Tigers shot a blistering 61 percent in the loss, making five of 12 3-pointers.
Streak shooter Tony Stockman and swingman Jamar McKnight each had 18 points. Clemson is run by junior guard Edward Scott, the ACC's assist leader at 7.8 a game, but the undersized Tigers average 15.4 turnovers.
"[The problem is] coming back from a game like [Duke], with all the hype and everything," Williams said. "We have to get over that and just get ready for Clemson. If we're tired [tonight], it will be because we think we're tired. We won't be tired [physically].
"Our one [ACC] loss is to the No.1 team in the country on their court. You have to really look at things from a realistic standpoint. We got that game out of the way."
Notes With a victory, Williams will tie former N.C. State coach Norm Sloan for eighth place in ACC victories with 103. … Clemson coach Larry Shyatt is 0-6 against Maryland. The Tigers' last victory over the Terps was a 78-65 overtime decision Dec.4, 1997, in Clemson when Rick Barnes was the coach.


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