- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 12, 2003

The Maryland Terrapins are finding the ACC no tougher than those non-conference rollovers.
In its second league game, Maryland pounded Florida State 89-62 yesterday, with the outcome seemingly decided before the first timeout.
The 21st-ranked Terps (9-3, 2-0 ACC) raced to an 18-0 lead in the first 4:36 before a sellout crowd of 17,950 at Comcast Center. Florida State (9-4, 0-2) showed none of its stellar field goal defense, which ranked No.2 in the nation, as Maryland made its first six shots and shot 53.4 percent overall.
"We're not a great team yet, but we're a good basketball team," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "I want the players to believe we can score on anyone. We can score on the transition, but that's not always there. You have to be able to run the half-court offense."
Unlike many of the Terps' early-season blowouts, conference foe Florida State was supposed to slow Maryland's transition game. Instead, the Terps ran past the Seminoles regularly and sank seven of 17 3-pointers.
"This is one of those games where you keep the tape on file and play it every once in a while to keep things in perspective," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said.
Maryland even overcame foul troubles by center Ryan Randle and forwards Travis Garrison and Tahj Holden with a diverse offense. During short stretches, the Terps used a four-guard lineup, with forward Nik Caner-Medley or Randle the only big man.
Maryland's depth proved too daunting for Florida State as eight players scored and seven got rebounds. Guard Drew Nicholas led the Terps with 23 points and nine rebounds. Holden added 12 points, with guards Steve Blake and Calvin McCall scoring 10 each. Randle finished with just six points, converting only three of nine shots from the floor, but added seven rebounds. Guard Tim Pickett topped the Seminoles with 15 points.
"We have so many guys capable of scoring that if we just move the ball around, guys get open shots," Nicholas said. "We've always been a good passing team."
With home conference victories over Georgia Tech and Florida State, Maryland faces a tough stretch in the schedule. The Terps travel to Wake Forest on Wednesday for their first ACC road game and then play host to No.1 Duke on Saturday. Maryland lost the only game it has played outside the Washington area when it was beaten by Indiana in Indianapolis, so the Terps are cautious about hitting Tobacco Road.
"One of the main things that people misinterpret is, everyone thinks because we're playing at Wake Forest and Duke, we have to do things different," Nicholas said. "We go about it the same way. We're going to take Wake Forest's best punch, and hopefully they won't be able to take ours."
After dashing to 20-4 leads in its previous two games, Maryland started 20-2 yesterday. The Terps dominated the first half 46-26 despite Randle playing only three minutes after he drew his second foul in the opening 2:02.
"We jumped on them right away," Blake said. "You don't expect to get on another ACC team like that."
Perhaps Williams' biggest challenge to his team was to maintain the early momentum. Maryland struggled after jumping to a large early lead in its 79-57 victory over Wagner on Jan.4 as the players seemed to lose their focus. Williams pressed his players to remain sharp in the 108-58 blowout over Hampton on Wednesday, but he wondered whether the Terps could do it again against the Seminoles.
"You look up and it's 18-0 and still 34 minutes left," he said. "You try to keep everybody on the bench focused. You don't relax because it's 18-0. The game isn't over."
However, Maryland held Florida State scoreless for nearly the first five minutes and caused the Seminoles to shoot 26.7 percent from the field.
Maryland was slightly sluggish at the start of the second half, then went on a 13-0 run for a 68-36 lead with 11:56 remaining. Florida State countered with its best stretch of the game at 11-2 against reserves. However, the Terps spent the last 10 minutes mixing reserves with starters for added chemistry, just as Williams did in his team's previous non-conference games.
"Our freshmen have stepped up enough to throw them in there," Williams said. "They didn't know what was up the first couple of months, understandably. Now they do."

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