Terps scare off Fla. State with Smith monster

January 12, 1994|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The reversed fortunes of the Maryland and Florida State basketball teams were on full display last night at Cole Field House. And so was freshman Joe Smith, putting on yet another monsterish performance for the Terrapins.

With Smith getting 23 points to go with a career-high 20 rebounds and six blocked shots, Maryland equaled last year's regular-season win total in the Atlantic Coast Conference with an 80-74 victory over the slumping Seminoles before another sellout of 14,500.

Unsteady in their unaccustomed role as favorites, and not as sharp as in their first two league games, the Terps saw an early 11-point lead evaporate in the first minute of the second half and a 13-point lead with a little less than eight minutes left cut to three, 74-71, on a three-point play by freshman Kirk Luckman, Florida State's backup center, with 22.1 seconds to play.

But Maryland (9-3, 2-1 in the ACC) stretched its lead back to seven on one free throw each by Johnny Rhodes and Smith, and two by Exree Hipp. After three free throws by Seminoles guard Chuckie Graham, the Terps then slam-dunked the Seminoles for good on a breakaway jam by Hipp, who broke out of a mini-slump by also finishing with 23 points.

Junior forward Maurice Robinson led slumping Florida State (7-4, 0-3) with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

"There were some situations we didn't handle well, but I really liked our competitiveness," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "When Florida State made its run, we could've folded. There are a lot of good things that have come out of tonight, but the best thing is that we won."

Asked about his team's tentativeness after playing at a high emotional level last week against then 12th-ranked Georgia Tech and then No. 2 North Carolina, Williams attributed it to the fact that the long-suffering Terps suddenly found themselves in the unexpected position of being expected to win.

"It was emotionally tough to get up after our opening two games," said Williams. "Florida State had something to do with that. We did not come out with as much emotion as we had the past two games, but we picked it up a little in the second half. The players read the newspapers. They saw we were favored. I think it bothered us."

But junior guard Bobby Sura, a Maryland nemesis last season, didn't. While the Seminoles still look lost out there without point guard Charlie Ward, who's expected to be back from his Heisman Trophy football season Sunday against North Carolina State, Sura has struggled more than anybody.

Bothered as much by his first two ACC games -- in which he missed 22 of 30 shots and all eight of his three-point attempts -- as by Rhodes' defense, Sura was barely a factor last night.

He didn't take a shot until nearly 10 minutes were gone, spent the last 9:23 of the first half on the bench with three fouls and finished with 13 points on four-of-12 shooting before fouling out with 1:10 remaining.

"I think my confidence is a little down," Sura said in explaining his hesitancy to shoot. "I was trying to get some easy baskets early and when they didn't come, I stopped shooting. I started hitting a little more in the second half, but it was too late."

Said Rhodes: "It was kind of surprising to see him [not shooting]. I didn't mind, because he's the kind of guy who can take over a game if he hits his first couple of shots."

It was left for Smith to take over. The 6-9, 220-pound center from Norfolk, Va., continued his onslaught on the ACC. While he scored more than 20 points for the fifth straight game overall and third straight in the league, Smith pulled down the most rebounds since Tony Massenburg got 20 against Georgia Tech nearly four years ago. His six blocked shots equaled his career high.

"I was playing my normal game," said the unassuming Smith, who still seems largely unmoved by the sensation he is causing. "It seems like the rebounds were coming more to me. It's what I did in high school [20 points, 16 rebounds a game as a senior at Maury High School]. It was similar to a high school game. I came out and played hard."

Florida State coach Pat Kennedy, who tried to recruit Smith, would like to see Smith come out. Period. Turn pro.

"I hope he goes next week," Kennedy said.

NOTES: The defeat equals Florida State's longest losing streak in four years. . . . Maryland's next game is Saturday at Wake Forest.

ACC STANDINGS

%

Conference Overall

.. .. .. .. .. W .. L .. .. Pct .. W .. L .. .. Pct

Duke ... .. .. 2 .. 0 ... 1.000 . 10 .. 0 ... 1.000

N.Carolina ... 2 .. 0 ... 1.000 . 12 .. 1 .. . .923

Virginia .. .. 2 .. 0 ... 1.000 .. 8 .. 3 .. . .727

W. Forest . .. 1 .. 0 ... 1.000 . 10 .. 3 .. . .769

Maryland .. .. 2 .. 1 .. . .667 .. 9 .. 3 .. . .750

Clemson ... .. 0 .. 1 .. . .000 .. 7 .. 4 .. . .636

Ga. Tech .. .. 0 .. 2 .. . .000 .. 9 .. 3 .. . .750

N.C. State ... 0 .. 2 .. . .000 .. 4 .. 8 .. . .333

Fla. St. .. .. 0 .. 3 .. . .000 .. 7 .. 4 .. . .636

Yesterday's result

Maryland 80, Florida State 74

Today's games

Virginia at Clemson, 8 p.m.

N. Carolina at Georgia Tech, 9 p.m.

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