- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 23, 2002

SYRACUSE, N.Y. Maryland finally was tested in the NCAA tournament, and the Terrapins proved to be tournament tough.
It wasn't until under 30 seconds remained last night that the thousands of Maryland fans who made the trip to the Carrier Dome could stand and breathe a sigh of relief as the Terps were in the final stages of a 78-68 win over Kentucky in the East Region semifinals.
Maryland survived a tense second half before Byron Mouton could pump his fist in the air and the Terps moved within one win of a repeat trip the Final Four. Other than Mouton, the Terps did not do much celebrating.
"We were very happy on the inside. We just didn't show it on the outside," said senior center Lonny Baxter. "We just want to take the next step and win the national championship."
Juan Dixon led Maryland with 19 points, but it was the Terps exploiting its inside game in the latter stages that propelled them into tomorrow's East Region final in the Carrier Dome. Top-seed Maryland will meet No. 2-seed Connecticut, a 71-59 winner over Southern Illinois, for the right to advance to the Final Four in Atlanta next weekend.
"We needed a close game," Dixon said. "Last year we had a tough game in the first round against George Mason. We showed a lot of heart and were able to get away with a win."
Maryland coach Gary Williams agreed.
"[A close game] means a lot because you're going to get in more as you go along in the tournament. We won a tight one tonight over Kentucky. That's a big win."
The Terps set a program-record for wins by improving to 29-4 on the season. Baxter added 16 points and power forward Chris Wilcox had 15 as Maryland advanced to the Elite Eight for the second time in two seasons, and only the fourth time in program history. Maryland's only visit to the Final Four was last season.
Fourth-seed Kentucky (22-10) ended a tumultuous. Wildcats scoring sensation Tayshaun Prince finished with a team-high 17 points, but had several late misses as he was worn down by Maryland's physical defense. Alexandria-native Keith Bogans had 15 points for the Wildcats, but was silent down the stretch.
The Terps held on during some anxious moments after Kentucky trailed by just three with five minutes and had cut Maryland's lead to 70-65 on a layup by Chuck Hayes with 1:53 remaining.
Maryland assistant coach Dave Dickerson got some praise for helping Indiana beat Duke on Thursday in the South Region. Hoosiers coach Mike Davis called Dickerson last week for a scouting report on how to attack the Blue Devils.
Dickerson helped create the game plan that led to Maryland's 87-73 destruction of Duke on Feb. 17 at Cole Field House. The advice helped No.5 seed Indiana shock the top-seed Blue Devils 74-73 despite trailing by 17 in the first half.
Dickerson, in his sixth season at Maryland, is a leading candidate to become head coach at Radford, where he was an assistant for four seasons before coming to College Park. The job opened when Ron Bradley resigned under pressure yesterday after 11 seasons with that program.

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