Terps' loss doesn't get them down

December 09, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY -- When the 1993-94 season began nearly three weeks ago, Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams probably would have accepted a 5-1 record and a victory over a nationally ranked team.

"You always want to win every game," Williams said Tuesday night, after the Terrapins lost their first game this season, a down-to-the-wire 88-85 nationally televised loss to Oklahoma at the Myriad. "But I think we're in good shape."

Overcoming an early 13-point deficit and a sloppy first half (19 turnovers), Maryland had chances to extend its winning streak and, perhaps, move into the Top 25. But the Terps, like Exree Hipp's three-pointer in the waning seconds, fell short.

Still, the first portion of its non-conference schedule sent Maryland into a 15-day break for final exams in a reasonably good mood. The Terps resume their season Dec. 23 against Towson State at the Baltimore Arena.

"We need some time off," said Williams, who planned to give his players yesterday and today off from practice. "Starting with the game against Georgetown, we've played a very tough stretch."

Unlike recent years, Maryland will not be looking to rebound from a disastrous loss (to Coppin State in 1989) or a blowout (to Louisville in 1991). While they hurt their chances of another road win Tuesday with a season-high 28 turnovers, the Terps had an opportunity to pull it out.

Just as six straight points by freshman Keith Booth helped give Maryland its biggest lead, 54-48, the fifth personal foul on the 6-foot-6 forward from Dunbar helped turn the game in Oklahoma's favor. It came with 4:34 remaining and Maryland ahead, 76-72.

"That was a tough call," said Booth, who finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and five turnovers. "It was kind of a bogus call, but playing on the road, you kind of expect that. We didn't come out of here with a win, but I think we're going to learn from this."

Freshman center Joe Smith will certainly continue to learn -- as well as teach -- a few things. Smith kept the Terps competitive throughout another scintillating performance, but after picking up his fourth personal with 5:25 left, became less aggressive around the basket.

"I was playing so I wouldn't get my fifth," said Smith, who had a team-high 30 points to go along with a career-high 16 rebounds, but scored only one point in the last 7:09. "I think a game like this will help us once we start playing in the ACC."

Smith's play continues to be remarkable. The 6-10, 220-pounder from Norfolk, Va., is averaging 22.7 points and 11.6 rebounds, while making 46 of 73 field goals and 44 of 59 free throws.

NOTES: Maryland out-rebounded Oklahoma, 53-35. . . . The Terps are expected to gain some backcourt depth, as well as another experienced player, when junior Wayne Bristol returns. Bristol, who sat out the first six games on academic probation, is expected to be eligible to play Dec. 23.

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