- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2002

It was lowly Norfolk State, not nemesis Duke, but eighth-ranked Maryland learned something last night at Cole Field House. Namely, that it can survive without Lonny Baxter. With their preseason All-American center in street clothes after spraining his right ankle in practice Tuesday, the Terps shook off some early ragged play and easily disposed of their foes from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, 92-69.
Maryland (11-2) hit 52 percent of its field goal attempts while holding Norfolk State to 36 percent, committed just 11 turnovers and blocked 15 shots, fourth-most in school history. All-ACC guard Juan Dixon shook off a slow start to lead Maryland with 17 points, but what really pleased coach Gary Williams was the balanced scoring which included junior college transfer Ryan Randle's 12 points, his most as a Terp, and 5-foot-9 freshman point guard Andre Collins' career-high 10, all in the second half. Randle also topped the Terps with eight rebounds and tied junior Tahj Holden with five blocks.
"Ryan knew he was going to play a lot and it didn't look like he felt any extra pressure," Williams said. "That's the most Andre has had a chance to play [11 minutes] and he certainly took advantage of it. He's very tough to cover."
Holden, who had lost his starting power forward job to sophomore Chris Wilcox last week, replaced Baxter and scored 16 points, one shy of his career-best, on 6-for-7 shooting.
"Tahj can't just rely on the fact that he is a very good shooter, probably as good as anybody in college at 6-10," Williams said. "That should be [just] part of his game. He should have a post-up game. He should be a rebounder. He should be a shot-blocker. Tahj is a smart guy. He understands that. Tonight, he had a good mix to his game."
The victory, in the final non-ACC game in Cole's 47 seasons as the Terps' home, extended Maryland's winning streak against non-conference visitors to a national-best 84 prior to the move across campus into the new Comcast Center next season.
"It's something we wanted to keep going and bring over to Comcast," Holden said.
Maryland, 1-0 in the ACC, opens its home conference schedule Wednesday against struggling North Carolina. Williams expects to have Baxter back that night.
The Terps, playing without Baxter for the first time since he was a freshman backup three years ago, were jittery early last night. After Wilcox dunked for a 6-2 lead, the Spartans (3-10) scored six of the next eight points. However, Holden nailed a 12-footer from the left baseline and Wilcox feathered home a jump hook. Norfolk State coach Wil Jones, an ex-Maryland assistant, called time, but Dixon, who had missed four of his first five shots, connected the next time down to extend Maryland's lead to 18-10 with 11:53 left in the half.
Chakowby Hicks (Spingarn High School) made a fastbreak layup to bring the visitors within seven points again, but Steve Blake hit an 18-footer, Randle tipped in a miss by Byron Mouton and Holden swished a 3-pointer for a 28-14 bulge. When Dixon and Randle converted consecutive rebound baskets and Drew Nicholas canned a 3-pointer from the left side, Maryland's margin had mushroomed to 37-17 with 3:49 to go in the half.
As if Norfolk State wasn't already toast with a 45-28 halftime deficit, Dixon (after a 3-for-11 first half) started the second half on fire, swishing a foul line jumper, an 18-footer (and subsequent free throw) and a 3-pointer before the half was four minutes gone. Maryland led 56-31, erasing any doubt about the victor. The Spartans didn't get closer than 20 points the rest of the way in what became an exhibition of run-and-gun basketball.


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