Maryland shuts basement door on N.C. State Terps roll, 88-71, escape ACC cellar

February 25, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The University of Maryland basketball team that beat Louisville and Oklahoma earlier this season came out of hiding last night against North Carolina State at Cole Field House.

These were the Terps who had showed so much promise in December, and early January, before being overwhelmed by the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference the past month. These were not the same Terps who had lost seven straight ACC games overall and all six at home this season.

Maryland showed it was certainly not the worst team in the ACC. With the help of a 17-0 run to start the second half, the Terps knocked through the basement door, leaving hapless and tired North Carolina State behind with a 88-71 victory. It was their first victory since beating the Wolfpack Jan. 23 in Raleigh.

Led by senior guard Kevin McLinton, who scored 17 of his hTC game-high 27 points in the second half, Maryland (11-12, 2-11) won for only the third time in the past 14 games. But with Clemson's 76-74 upset of 12th-ranked Wake Forest, the Terps are still in eighth place. N.C. State (7-16, 1-12) lost its sixth straight ACC game.

"More so than my own performance, I'm happy that we finally won again," said McLinton, who made seven of eight shots in the second half. "It's been really a struggle."

The struggle continued in the first half last night. Maryland fell behind early, 19-12, and finished the half shooting only 13 of 30 from the field against the ACC's worst defensive team. Instead of harsh words at halftime from their coach, Gary Williams, the Terps got menacing stares from McLinton.

"I give Kevin McLinton a lot of credit," said Williams. "He was very upset with the way we had played in the first half. It wasn't anything he said. It was a little body language. I knew Kevin was going to have a good second half."

Said McLinton: "I was really mad. It was like we didn't want to compete in the first half. After having a week off, I didn't think we'd come out flat. I made sure the guys knew I wasn't happy."

After managing only 35 points in the first half, and trailing by four, Maryland scored 36 in the first 10 minutes of the second half, turning a four-point deficit into a 20-point lead. The Terps scored on 19 of their first 23 possessions of the half.

"We talked about being a better basketball team than we were in the first half," said Williams. "It is very tough to come out and play when you have lost six or seven in a row. It is difficult, but I knew that if we did a couple of good things in a row, we would get it going and we did."

Said N.C. State coach Les Robinson, whose team was playing for the sixth time in 13 days, "I think the first half gave us a false sense of security. When they hit that three-pointer to start the second half, it really turned things around for them. I hate to say that one shot so early can do it, but that one did."

The three-point shot by freshman Exree Hipp 26 seconds into the half started what would eventually become a 30-8 burst. It was stopped temporarily after Kevin Thompson scored on a follow with 15:44 left to cut Maryland's lead to 11. The Terps led by as many as 24, 83-59.

Unlike Maryland's victory over N.C. State last month, when McLinton scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half and single-handedly carried the Terps on his broad shoulders, he had help last night. After a sluggish first half, due in part to a bruised hip suffered Monday in practice, senior forward Evers Burns finished with 22 points and eight rebounds.

But the unsung hero for Maryland last night was reserve forward Kurtis Shultz. The 6-5 sophomore from Randallstown came off the bench in the first half and hit a key three-pointer. He ended up tying his career high of seven points and getting a career-high six rebounds in 22 minutes, his longest playing stint since coming to Maryland.

"When I hit that three-pointer, Kevin McLinton told me to keep shooting," said Shultz, who wound up hitting three of five shots. "After the Clemson game last year, it gave me a lot of confidence over the summer. Now we're playing Clemson again Saturday. I just want to get in there and see what happens."

So does Maryland.

At least the Maryland team that came out of hiding last night.

NOTES: Thompson, a 6-10 senior center, led the Wolfpack with 19 points and 17 rebounds, with 11 of those rebounds coming in the first half. . . . Maryland freshman forward Mario Lucas did not play because of a bruised back.

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