- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2002

This time, the Maryland Terrapins looked like a championship team.
The Terps ran past, beat up and overall had their way with Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Maryland cruised to the Sweet 16 with an 87-57 extermination of the Badgers yesterday before a Terps partisan-crowd of 18,789 at MCI Center.
Juan Dixon left the floor pumping his fists as a few hundred Maryland supporters waited to cheer off the senior star in his final college game in the area. It was a glorious exit for Dixon, who matched a season high with 29 points for a second consecutive game and became the leading scorer in program history. The Terps advanced to their sixth Sweet 16 in nine seasons in robust fashion after a lackluster 15-point first-round win over Siena in Friday's first round, which raised questions about their fortitude, defense and ability to contend for the title.
Those concerns were put to rest after sending Wisconsin back to the Midwest full of bleary visions of Dixon draining 3-pointers and Chris Wilcox slipping down the lane for powerful dunks. The 30-point win was the largest for Maryland in the NCAA tournament.
"We were talking before the game about finishing people off and having that killer instinct," Maryland center Lonny Baxter said. "We finished them off in a big way."
The Terps, the East Region's top seed, will face No. 4 Kentucky on Friday in a region semifinal in Syracuse, N.Y. The Wildcats beat Tulsa 87-82 on Saturday behind 41 points from Tayshaun Prince. That winner will meet the survivor between second-seeded Connecticut and No.11 Southern Illinois for a berth in the Final Four.
"We know we have a good opportunity to get back to Atlanta," said Dixon, referring to a repeat trip to the Final Four. "We have to win on the defense end."
The Terps (28-4) matched the school record for wins in a season by shooting 51 percent and limiting the Badgers (19-13) to 36 percent. Wilcox broke out of his doldrums with 18 points on 9-for-13 shooting and seven rebounds. Baxter totaled 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots to help Maryland outmuscle the physical Big Ten co-champions.
Maryland turned a close game into a rout, beginning late in the first half. Drew Nicholas (eight points) came off the bench to provide a spark as the Terps' fullcourt pressure took its toll. The reserve point guard's 3-pointer gave Maryland a 26-23 lead, and Steve Blake followed with another 3 to cap a 10-point run. Dixon's deep 3-pointer from the right wing gave Maryland a 32-25 advantage and moved him past the late Len Bias as the program's all-time leading scorer.
"It was a big day for me," said Dixon, who made four of seven 3-pointers despite missing his first two attempts. "Once again, we got back to the Sweet 16. I was anxious at first. I just wanted to come out and get into a rhythm, and I was able to do so at the end of the first half. It carried over into the second half."
The Terps led 38-30 at intermission before delivering the knockout blow with a 25-6 run to open the second half. Wilcox began the barrage with a tip-in on Maryland's third shot of a possession. Dixon buried a 3 with a man in his face and added a running bank shot in transition before Baxter blocked two shots and grabbed a rebound to set up a fastbreak layup by Wilcox that made it 47-30.
"We just snowballed," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "That certainly didn't feel like a 30-point win the whole first half. That run we had at the beginning of the second half, we just played our best basketball. That's pretty tough to handle."
Wisconsin didn't score for the first 4 minutes after the break. After a 3-pointer by Charlie Wills (team-high 17 points) broke the 9-0 run, Maryland went on another 16-3 spurt. Dixon scored the first eight points and gave the Terps a 55-33 lead on a 3-pointer. The sniper also had a rebound and layup in one motion and an NBA-range 3-pointer to widen the margin to 63-36.
Besides Dixon, the biggest positive for the Terps was the overall defense. Maryland's Byron Mouton (seven rebounds) and Nicholas did an excellent job shutting down Wisconsin's leading scorer, Kirk Penney, who finished with nine points on 3-for-14 shooting, missing all six of his 3-point tries. Meanwhile, Maryland made eight of 16 3-pointers.
"We just wanted to pick up the tempo and put pressure on those guys," said Dixon, who also had five rebounds, three assists and two steals. "We made it difficult for them to get into their offense. We did a great job tonight."
Maryland outrebounded Wisconsin by nine as Wilcox, Baxter and Mouton delivered a pounding while Dixon did the bulk of the scoring damage. It was a humbling experience for the Big Ten co-champions.
"Monstrous," said Wills, Wisconsin's senior center. "Their inside-out game is phenomenal. They are very explosive and can pour it on quickly. They are a great team, and I think they can take this all the way."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide