Big second half lifts sloppy Terps past Bears, 103-63 Williams able to rest players with Louisville up tomorrow

December 27, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- With a much-anticipated visit from the University of Louisville looming, the Maryland basketball team needed to get a couple of things out of last night's game against Morgan State.

"Confidence and rest," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "We got both."

The confidence came from a sloppy but easy 103-63 victory over the road-weary Bears before 4,713 die-hard fans at Cole Field House. The rest came from Williams' giving nobody more than 30 minutes of playing time.

It was the fifth straight victory for Maryland (6-1), which plays Louisville tomorrow night at Cole, and the seventh straight defeat for Morgan State (0-7). It came three days after the Terps struggled to beat Towson State and a week after the Bears had played respectably against Georgetown.

"I was pleased with the way the team came out tonight," said Williams, whose Terps tied the longest winning streak in his three-plus seasons at Maryland. "I was very concerned about this team because they showed their athletic ability against Georgetown. I have always thought that a team like that can score a lot of points in a hurry."

The Bears weren't in a hurry to score points last night. They scored only six points in the first seven minutes. They didn't reach double figures until a little more than seven minutes were left in the first half.

Shortly thereafter, Maryland built its lead to 35-10. Though the Terps hit a little lull toward the end of the first half, and Morgan State cut its deficit back to 19, it was as close as the Bears would get. It was 21 at halftime, and would double at one point late in the game.

"This was the worst we've played," said Morgan State coach Michael Holmes, who spent nearly 45 minutes after the game giving what he called a "motivational" talk to his players.

About the only excitement during a long and mostly unexhilarating evening came from Keith Hayman, a Maryland student who made a shot from half-court during a halftime shooting contest. Hayman, a junior from Potomac, became the first person in the contest's first three years to do so. He won an automobile valued at around $12,000.

Consider this: In the first nine minutes, both teams combined for a total of nine baskets, while committing 19 turnovers and 17 fouls. The Bears, who had three players foul out, sent Maryland to the free-throw line 42 times (the Terps made 29) and committed 35 turnovers. The Bears, meanwhile, shot only nine free throws.

And this: For the second straight game, the Terps played long stretches without Evers Burns. The 6-foot-8 senior forward from Woodlawn, who got into second-half foul trouble against Towson State, spent most of the first half on the bench with similar problems.

But the absence of Burns, who came on strong in the second half and scored 11 of his 15 points, led to some valuable time for freshman Nemanja Petrovic. The 6-10 forward from Yugoslavia played his best game since coming to Maryland.

"This was a good experience," said Petrovic, who finished with a career-high 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting, to go along with seven rebounds. "This is what I needed before the big games start."

It might be what Johnny Rhodes needs to boost him back to the level he was playing at earlier in the season. The 6-4 freshman from Washington admitted that his intensity level has slacked a bit recently, dropping his offensive production.

Though Williams is happy with the all-around play of his prized freshman -- he had 14 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals last night -- Rhodes said: "It's a little hard to get up for teams like that. I'm looking forward to playing a good team."

Louisville, which thumped Maryland by 17 points last season at Freedom Hall, is certainly that. Ranked in the top 10 nationally during the preseason, the Cardinals are a deceptive 2-3, having lost on last-second shots at Vanderbilt and against Georgia Tech at the Georgia Dome.

With a sellout crowd expected at Cole Field House -- the first sellout against a non-conference team since UNLV in 1985 -- Williams knows his team will be ready. He hopes that his players, especially his younger ones, don't get too nervous.

"I think there's a tendency to get too excited," said Williams. "I'd rather have that [a sellout]. Hopefully the crowd will really help us Monday night."

While the Terps play their biggest game this season, the Bears continue on their long, hard road trip to oblivion. Morgan State might have replaced its Mid-Eastern Conference rival UMES as the worst Division I team in the country.

The Bears missed eight of their first nine shots, nine of their first 11 and had six points in the first seven minutes. They didn't reach double figures until a little more than seven minutes were left.

By then, Maryland had put together its first solid stretch, scoring on six of seven possessions.

After, uh, talking to his team, Holmes came back onto the court where his team had suffered its worst defeat of the season. Someone told him that things were only going to get better by the time the Bears return home, three weeks and three games from now.

The third-year Morgan State coach smiled weakly.

"I hope they will," he said.

He didn't sound confident.

NOTES: Freshman Vince Langston led the Bears with 16 points, including four of six on three-pointers. . . The Terps were also four of six on threes.

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