Terps get a shot of life from Oklahoma win

January 21, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- They will not have to carry a prolonged losing streak back into their next Atlantic Coast Conference game. They will not have to carry the doubts that had started to seep into their thoughts.

For the University of Maryland basketball team, Tuesday night's 89-78 upset of 12th-ranked Oklahoma at the Baltimore Arena provided something the Terrapins needed dearly: a second wind on what had started to look like a difficult season.

"The good thing is the players feel a lot better about themselves than they did going into that game," Maryland coach Gary Williams said yesterday. "We weren't just losing. We were losing bad. It's a game nobody expected us to win. They could have packed it in."

Instead, the Terps surprised the nation's No. 1 scoring team with a 1-3-1 zone defense that took away its most potent weapon -- the three-point shot. They maybe even surprised themselves with the way they handled Oklahoma's pressure in what turned out to be Maryland's best game since a victory over Louisville last month.

The victory broke a four-game losing streak for Maryland (9-5) and removed the sour taste left by an 0-4 start in the ACC. It also gave the Terps the necessary impetus going into their two-game road trip to North Carolina State on Saturday and Clemson on Tuesday. The Wolf

pack and Tigers are the only other teams without an ACC victory.

"We weren't sure where our team was coming into this game," said senior forward Evers Burns of Woodlawn, who celebrated his first college game in his hometown and Maryland's first in rTC Baltimore in five years with a 22-point, seven-rebound, five-

steal performance. "It was our plan to let everything hang out, to leave everything on the floor."

Not only did the Terps hold Oklahoma (12-4) to 35 percent shooting (four of 20 on threes) and to nearly 20 points under its scoring average, but they also played with great efficiency on offense. Their lead grew from five at halftime to as many as 15 on two occasions in the second half, and the Sooners never got closer than seven down the stretch.

"We're not a great perimeter shooting team, so we have to pass the ball well," said Williams. "Evers and Chris [Kerwin] did a great job of looking for each other inside."

As a result, all five starters scored in double figures. Aside from Burns, senior guard Kevin McLinton had 20 points, freshman guard Johnny Rhodes scored 15, Kerwin had a career-high 13 and freshman forward Exree Hipp had 12. McLinton added seven assists and seven rebounds, and Kerwin had nine rebounds.

With several starters in foul trouble, Maryland also got a terrific lift from some of its reserves. It came more in their defense than offense, as much in their emotion as in their execution. Freshman guard Duane Simpkins played 18 minutes while Rhodes and then McLinton were nursing four fouls. Junior guard Mike Thibeault added seven minutes of reckless abandon.

"What he [Thibeault] did in practice the past few days he did in the game," Williams said of the 6-3 former walk-on from Glen Burnie. "He'd really get us going defensively. We needed that. We had to get more active. He did what he had to do."

So did Maryland.

Just when nobody expected it.

NOTES: The 52 free throws attempted by the Terps was the second most by a Maryland team, and the 35 made tied the second most in school history. . . . The Terps took off yesterday and will resume practicing today for Saturday's game. A sobering piece of ACC trivia: Maryland hasn't won in Raleigh since the 1985-86 season and at Clemson since 1987-88.

Terps' Top 25 victories

Maryland's wins over Top 25 teams under Gary Williams:

Season .. .. Score .. .. .. Opponent

1992-93 . .. 89-78 .. .. .. No. 12 Oklahoma

1991-92 . .. 82-80 .. .. .. No. 10 North Carolina

... .. .. .. 93-85 .. .. .. No. 23 Florida State

1990-91 . .. 78-69 .. .. .. No. 12 South Carolina

1989-90 . .. None ... .. .. (North Carolina was unranked

... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. in both its losses to Maryland)

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