- The Washington Times - Monday, January 21, 2002

Clemson’s Chris Hobbs set the tone early last night with a body slam of Maryland’s Tahj Holden. The No. 3 Terrapins came in flat after an emotional loss to top-ranked Duke on Thursday and were immediately smacked in the face with the Tigers’ WWF-style.
It didn’t help that Clemson came out hitting 3-pointers like they were on special at Kmart. It took the Terps until the game’s final moments to gain control, and they escaped with a 99-90 win before a relieved crowd of 14,500 at Cole Field House.
“We escaped tonight and live to play [at No.[ThSp]14 Wake Forest on] Wednesday,” said Maryland coach Gary Williams, whose team closed the game on a 17-6 spurt after trailing 83-82 with 4:41 remaining.
The emotional hangover was expected. Clemson’s precise 3-point bombs were not. The Tigers made a program-record 11 3s in and shot 55 percent in the first half, but Maryland found a way to finish strong and ensure the loss to Duke would not lead to an upset.
Thanks to Chris Wilcox picking up the emotional energy of an otherwise flat team with 17 points and 14 rebounds and Juan Dixon (23 points) making big shots at the end, the Terps (14-3, 4-1 ACC) pulled within a half-game of league-leading Duke.
Maryland outlasted Clemson by committing just six turnovers as point guard Steve Blake broke out a two-game funk. Blake finished with 13 assists and two turnovers and moved into second place on Maryland’s all-time assist list. Blake would have broken Maryland’s single-game assist record of 15 had Lonny Baxter converted a few more layups. The Terps center finished with 21 points but seemed fatigued as he made just eight of 17 shots and five of 12 free throws.
“It was an off-night for him,” said Wilcox, who had seven offensive rebounds and was the most active Maryland player defensively. “My goal was just to go out there and get rebounds.”
Wilcox played a career-high 28 minutes, picking up the slack for Baxter (five rebounds) and Holden, who continued his slump, failing to make a field goal for a second straight game and finishing with no rebounds in 13 minutes.
“It’s a good thing [Wilcox] was rebounding,” said Williams, whose club was outrebounded 50-40. “He’s just a sophomore, and he’s building endurance as he goes. Tonight he really came through for us.”
Reserve center Ryan Randle continues to emerge as a force off the bench by totaling three points and three rebounds in seven minutes. And reserve Drew Nicholas (14 points) gave the Terps a needed offensive surge.
The Tigers (11-8, 2-4), who upset No.10 Virginia two weeks ago, suffered their third straight defeat despite making a program-record 11 3-pointers in the first half.
Dixon gave Maryland the lead for good on the game’s 19th lead change when he nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner. After two free throws by Clemson’s Jamar McKnight (19 points) cut it to 86-85, Nicholas sank a 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Terps a four-point edge. Nicholas also gave Maryland a 91-85 lead by making two free throws as McKnight fouled out with 2:34 remaining.
Clemson didn’t get closer than five the rest of the way, but Maryland couldn’t rest easy until Holden made two free throws to make it 98-90 with 48 seconds to play. Clemson missed three shots on its next possession before Nicholas got the rebound.
Tony Stockman led Clemson with 22 points, while Edward Scott had 20 as five Tigers finished in double figures. Tigers center Ray Henderson finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Byron Mouton had 14 points for the Terps, who also had five in double digits.
“It is kind of exciting to outscore the NBA when we play,” Williams said. “But the other team is [doing it], too.”
The game heated up after Hobbs was called for an intentional foul for slamming Holden to the ground with 13:32 left in the first half. The Tigers tried to intimidate the Terps, and Maryland took a while before responding. Hobbs soon became the crowd’s most hated player and held his hand to his ear to encourage the taunts when he left the game.
“I knew right then it was going to be a physical game,” Wilcox said. “We just couldn’t back down.”
Maryland seemed to be pulling away after opening the second half on a 12-3 run. The Terps led 66-55 after Wilcox got a rebound well above the rim and dunked it on his way down. However, the Tigers roared back with a 12-1 run to tie the game at 67-67 on a transition layup by Dwon Clifton with 10:05 remaining and hung close until the final moments.
Maryland led 52-48 after a frenzied first half. The Tigers drained 11 of 16 3s (69 percent), starting with a wild flourish.
Clemson shot 55 percent overall in the period, and it made nine of its first 11 shots and five of its first six 3s. McKnight had 14 points after making all five of his shots, including three 3s. Stockman also had 14 by making four of six 3s. Scott scored 13 points, hitting four of five shots from long range.

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