Terps out to avenge '94 loss to N.C. State

January 22, 1995|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. -- It was 39-14 at halftime.

"It was a humiliation representing the University of Maryland that way," said junior guard Johnny Rhodes, recalling the first half of last year's game here against North Carolina State.

Four-for-32.

"It was like hell," said junior guard Duane Simpkins, recalling how poorly the Terrapins shot in the first half. "The ball wasn't going in, but I knew we also weren't playing hard enough."

Final score: 79-71.

"We cut it to six and we had a chance to win, but they hit some big shots and made their free throws," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, recalling his team's ill-fated comeback and its disappointing eight-point defeat. "We needed another win to get into the tournament. We looked a little tight out there."

After their subsequent recovery and surprise trip to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 last season, after their fast start and high national ranking this season, the Terps are still embarrassed when reminded of what happened against the Wolfpack during the first half of that game.

Eighth-ranked Maryland (13-3, 3-1) hopes to create more positive memories for itself today, in a 1:30 p.m. Atlantic Coast Conference game here against North Carolina State (10-4, 2-2). Last year's nightmarish start was merely added to the list of woes the Terps have incurred in the past decade at rowdy Reynolds Coliseum.

"That atmosphere down there is going to be very tough," said Williams, whose team's 70-65 victory two years ago was its only one in this antiquated building in his first five seasons at Maryland and just the second by the Terps in the last 10 years.

It won't be easy today, and it will be loud in a place that N.C. State coach Les Robinson calls "Cameron plus 3,000" in reference to Duke's home court and to the 12,400-seat capacity at Reynolds.

The Wolfpack beat then top-ranked North Carolina here Jan. 4, and after losing here to Virginia two weeks ago and getting crushed by 28 points at Florida State a week ago yesterday, it beat free-falling Duke in Durham by 17 on Wednesday night.

"The North Carolina game got us out of whack, because we started feeling our oats a little," said Robinson, who seems to have the program back on the road to recovery after two straight 19-loss seasons.

"The first loss [to Virginia] set us back a little, but the Florida State game was a good wake-up call. It got our attention."

N.C. State's win over the Blue Devils got Maryland's attention.

"State's a good basketball team," said Williams, who'll be looking for career win No. 300. "They have five upperclassmen who play a lot. [Ishua] Benjamin looks like he's one of the best freshman point guards in the country. That's a good combination."

Today's game starts an important two-game road trip for Maryland, which visits another house of horrors -- Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum -- Wednesday night. The Terps went 0-2 on this trip last year to start a four-game losing streak and put their NCAA bid in jeopardy.

Maryland comes in a lot more confident -- and relaxed -- this time. The Terps easily dispatched of then-No. 14 Wake Forest eight days ago, and haven't played since. It gave Williams a chance to fine-tune some things. It also gave him a chance to watch a tape of last year's game here, though he didn't show it to his players.

"The funny thing is, we got off OK and ran a couple of good plays," he said. "We really took quick shots, without any balance and without any patience. Defensively we were very tentative."

NOTES: Rhodes needs one steal to become the first player in ACC history to have 200 steals, 400 rebounds and 100 three-point shots for his career. . . . This will be Maryland's third road game among its first five overall in the ACC, with the visit to Clemson on Wednesday being four of six.

TODAY'S GAMES

NO. 8 MARYLAND (13-3) at NORTH CAROLINA STATE (10-4)

Site: Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, N.C.

Time: 1:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 54, 7, ESPN2/WBAL (1090 AM)

Outlook: The Terrapins have dominated this series lately, winning four of the past five. The loss came last year, 79-71, at N.C. State. The Wolfpack has beaten North Carolina and Duke but also has lost badly to Florida State. The Terps, whose .522 shooting percentage leads Division I, have won their only road game -- in Tallahassee. Junior C Todd Fuller (13.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg) might not be in same class as Joe Smith, but he's steady. The key matchup will be in the backcourt, where the 6-foot-5 Johnny Rhodes (15.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.9 apg, 3.1 spg) should be able to use his size on 6-3 Lakista McCuller (15.2 ppg), and Duane Simpkins (9.8 ppg, 5.1 apg) has experience on freshman

Ishua Benjamin (14.9 ppg, 5.9 apg). Terps coach Gary Williams seeks his 300th career victory today.

MARYLAND WOMEN (9-7) at No. 3 NORTH CAROLINA (17-0)

Site: Carmichael Auditorium, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Time: Noon

Outlook: Maryland (1-4 in the ACC) has won two straight after losing a school-record four straight league games. Terps coach Chris Weller is one victory shy of 400 career wins. Sophomore G Lillian Purvis (8.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg) has rejoined the starting lineup after scoring 38 points in her past two games. Off to its best start in school history, North Carolina has won an ACC women's record 31 straight games, including 17 in a row this season, and 26 straight at home. The Terps lead the series, 23-13, but North Carolina has won the past two meetings.

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