COLLEGE PARK -- The stat crew added a phantom attempt to Maryland forward Garfield Smith's shot totals and coach Gary Williams needled him for breaking the team's dress code by not wearing a tie.
But, given his performance in the Terrapins' 72-59 win over Southern California last night, finding a flaw in Smith's game was like returning a Porsche because the color doesn't match your eyes.
In only his second game against major college competition, Smith, a junior college transfer from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, scored 19 points and yanked down 12 rebounds in 32 minutes of high-spirited action.
"I've never had a perfect night before," said Smith. "It feels good."
As well it should. According to who you believe, Smith, a 6-foot-6, 223-pound native of the Bronx, either made all nine of his shots or made all but one of them.
In any case, it was quite a show.
"That was a great performance against a good defensive team," said Williams. Smith, who combines the size of a power forward with the outside shooting touch of a small forward, scored eight of Maryland's first 12 points to stake the Terps (2-0) to an early lead.
Then, he went silent for 10 minutes, as the Terps spread the wealth. However, with 5:20 left in the game, Smith tipped in a miss from guard Walt Williams and was fouled on the play. The free throw gave Maryland a nine-point lead and put the contest out of reach.
During the preseason, Gary Williams had projected sophomore Evers Burns into the starting lineup, but eventually settled on Smith, who averaged 16 points and eight rebounds last year at Coffeyville.
Williams tapped Smith because his rebounding skills had improved to the point that he could help Cedric Lewis man the boards.
"I think he can still improve," said Williams. "Garfield will never tell you that he's learning because he's from New York and New York guys never tell you that they're learning.
"He's got a nice combination game. If he continues to improve, he's really going to help us."
By his own admission, Smith came to Maryland in the hopes of being able to fill up the basket, but Williams has sold him on the wonders of playing defense.
"I thought I could come in here and shoot 50 times a game," said Smith. "And then I woke up and signed the letter of intent.
"For some reason, I'm pretty good at rebounding. It comes to me easy. But Coach Williams has taught me how to work hard. I'm in a lot better shape than I've ever been and he still wants me to work hard."
Smith wasn't the only Terp who worked hard, especially in a Cole Field House that seemed hotter than July.
The heat was literally on junior forward Vince Broadnax and sophomore reserve guard Kevin McLinton, who drew the unenviable duty of defending Trojans sophomore guard Harold Miner, the top freshman in the Pac-10 last year.
The chore and the heat were so taxing on Broadnax that he said he felt lightheaded and dehydrated.
"I can't recall it being this hot in here before," said Broadnax, who had four points and nine rebounds.
But Broadnax and McLinton, who had three points and four assists in 17 minutes, kept the heat on the heralded Miner, who shared game-high scoring honors with Walt Williams with 20.
Virtually all of Miner's shots were contested and his last three baskets were meaningless.
"I knew going in that I would have to play him really hard," said McLinton. "I had dreams about it. He made some shots, but he made some tough shots. If you play a guy tough and he makes the shots, then there's not much you can do."
"I'd be hard-pressed to say anyone on our team played well tonight," said USC coach George Raveling. "They did a good job on Harold and forced him into a lot of bad shots."
Meanwhile, the Maryland offense ran in fits and spurts. They ran out to an early lead, thanks to Smith, and held it through halftime.
However, Miner and backcourt mate Robert Pack helped push the Trojans (1-1) ahead briefly, before Walt Williams and Matt Roe hit three-pointers to pull the Terps close and then finally ahead.
And, of course, there was Smith, who, at Gary Williams' request, has become a vocal leader, who on more than one occasion whipped the partisan crowd of 10,110 into a frenzy with his flailing arms and enthusiastic gestures.
"I think they [USC] just came in here and sold us short," said Smith. "They heard we were down. They figured they were going to kick some ---, take your women and go to the airport. That wasn't going to happen."