- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2002

If the Maryland Terrapins looked distracted yesterday, well, they had their reasons.
They were officially opening the $125 million Comcast Center, they commemorated their 2002 national championship with a banner unfurling and they were mixing in six new players for their first game as defending national champions. All that took some getting used to.
And so it showed a bit on the day of firsts, as the No.12 Terps produced a 64-49 victory against Miami (Ohio) before a sold-out crowd of 17,950. The Terps did it with strong defense, limiting the RedHawks to under 30 percent shooting and forced 22 turnovers, while they worked through some kinks offensively. The particulars took a backseat to the bottom line though the Terps were happy to get the first one out of the way.
"It was an unusual day with the unfurling of the banner and the emotion that was involved before the game," said coach Gary Williams, who now has an 11-3 mark in season openers at Maryland. "We had to get through that and I thought we did OK with that."
Maryland allowed its fewest points to any opponent in nearly three years, since Coastal Carolina scored 48 in January 2000, and extended the nation's longest non-conference home-court winning streak to 85 games.
The Terps' pressure defense proved the difference, creating turnovers in halfcourt and fullcourt situations against Miami (0-2). Ryan Randle took advantage of Maryland's height advantage to score a career-high 15 points while Drew Nicholas led Maryland with four steals. The Terps scored nearly half their points 29 off RedHawk turnovers.
"That was one of my main things coming into tonight's game I really wanted to get easy points off of steals and deflections and in the first half I think we did that well," Nicholas said. "In the second half I feel we picked up our whole intensity to another level."
On a day when the heads of some freshmen might be spinning, Maryland got contributions from its young 'uns, led by Travis Garrison. The 6-foot-8 forward scored eight points on 3-for-5 shooting and pulled down a team-best six rebounds in 22 minutes, which bolstered the Terps' frontcourt after senior Tahj Holden (six points in 21 minutes) struggled at times against the smaller RedHawks.
Fellow freshman Nik Caner-Medley, as he had in the preseason, again served as a playmaker for the Terps, making an immediate impact once he entered the game in the first half. Though he scored one point, his three steals and two blocks on one he smacked a breakaway layup off the backboard made up for it.
With another freshman, guard John Gilchrist, Williams showed versatility when he played him with Blake in the first half, pushing the Terps' starting point man to the off-guard. With the Terps leading 18-13 and eight minutes to play in the first half, Blake drilled a 3-pointer, then made a steal and fed Gilchrist for a slam and a 23-13 lead with 7:01 left.
Following a timeout, the RedHawks got back in it with two jumpers by Josh Hausfeld to trail 23-19 with 4:18 to play. Another Blake 3-pointer helped Maryland push the lead to 32-21 at halftime.
Williams said after yesterday's "spotty" effort, Wednesday's game against The Citadel will provide a more accurate depiction of this Maryland team. The Terps just wanted to get through yesterday victorious.
"When the banner went down, I was telling everybody, 'That was last year, we have to focus on this year,'" Randle said. "I think it motivated us a little bit. But now that the first game's out of the way, I think everybody's going to play how Maryland basketball's supposed to be played."

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