Long day ends fast for Terps Tech leads, 20-4, rolls to 93-79 win

February 07, 1993|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

ATLANTA -- For five minutes and four seconds yesterday, all Maryland coach Gary Williams could do was watch and scream and spin on the heels of his black loafers.

Airball. A grimace.

Lousy defense. A curse.

Thunderous dunk. Another curse.

Williams finally pulled up his suit trousers, crouched down, glared at the scoreboard and shook his head.

It was going to be a long, long day for the Terrapins.

Georgia Tech used an opening 20-4 burst and beat Maryland, 93-79, at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

The victory boosted No. 22 Georgia Tech to 12-6 overall, and 5-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Maryland lost its fourth straight, falling to 10-9 overall and 1-8 in the ACC.

And guess who's coming to Cole Field House Tuesday night?

North Carolina.

"There is no place to hide in this league," Williams said. "We just weren't ready to play."

The start overshadowed everything.

Maryland forward Evers Burns scored a career-high 36 points, the best in the league this season, and it was just a footnote.

Exree Hipp added 18 points, hardly enough to dent the Tech lead.

Kevin McLinton had a sprained toe, couldn't warm up, threw up a line-drive airball on his first shot, finished with seven points, and pulled himself out in the second half.

Another footnote.

Even a four-point performance on 2-for-12 shooting by freshman Johnny Rhodes was quickly forgotten.

"You start out playing catch up, and catch up is too hard against a good ACC team," Burns said.

Maryland never got closer than five points and never even made Tech sweat out a victory that it desperately needed.

Only 8,175 fans, 2,000 short of capacity, showed up at Tech's Thriller Dome. It was 60 degrees outside. Perfect tennis weather.

Before the game, Tech coach Bobby Cremins talked about the pressure his team faced after giving away a game to Clemson.

There were even whispers that Tech may falter in the stretch and blow an NCAA tournament berth.

"I thought we laid our guts on the line," Cremins said. "We showed as much character as any team I've coached in this particular situation. It could have gotten ugly."

Actually, it was ugly . . . for Maryland, which lost for the 12th straight time at the Dome.

The Terps tried to shake off a 70-68 loss at home to Virginia Thursday night.

And they failed.

"We only had 40 hours between games," Williams said. "We have the type of team that has to be ready to compete. After Thursday night, we had a tough time competing."

The Terps flew to Atlanta. They practiced. Williams even tried a little psychology, telling Burns "be confident, don't hesitate, and shoot."

He was giving his senior the green light on offense.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Terrapins were yielding to the Yellow Jackets' onslaught.

"We had a bad start," McLinton said. "Seems like every time we come down here, we have a bad start. We dug ourselves a big hole."

The opening minutes became the Travis Best variety show.

Tech's sophomore guard hit an opening three-pointer nine seconds into the game, added five more points during the burst, and finished with 25.

All Maryland could respond with was McLinton's airball -- "WishedI'd never taken the shot, I was cold," he said -- four missed shots, blown defensive assignments, and a pair of baskets by center Chris Kerwin.

"Best is a great player and we knew where he was," Williams said. "It's just like everybody knows where Michael Jordan is when they play Chicago. How come they don't stop him? Sometimes, great players have a way of taking over."

Give Maryland credit: after Malcolm Mackey's baseline hook gave Tech a 20-4 lead with 14:16 left, the Terrapins refused to quit.

Maryland kept chipping away at Tech. Burns sank seven straight field goals to trigger the comeback, and McLinton's layup and free throw with two seconds left in the half brought Maryland to 52-47.

The Terps' last gasp came with 15:06 left in the game on a Hippthree-pointer for a 64-59 deficit.

Tech then worked its inside game and pulled steadily away, as sophomore forward James Forrest finished with 21 points and center Mackey had 17.

"It was just too tough to come back," Rhodes said. "I felt flat. I guess everyone was flat."

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