Maryland not artistic, but beats Australians Up-and-down Terrapins capture exhibition, 83-73

November 21, 1995|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Their inside game is missing in action, the backcourt is carrying the team and now the Maryland Terps get the No. 1 team in the country: Big, bad, talented Kentucky.

Is this any way to open the season?

"It's a great way to start the season," Maryland coach Gary Williams said, not convincingly, last night after the Terps outlasted the Brisbane Bullets, 83-73, in their final preseason tuneup before a Cole Field House crowd of 10,581.

"I remember how excited we were when we played Georgetown [to open the season in 1993]. It's kind of the same situation. We look forward to it."

The 14th-ranked Terps have three days to wipe away the memory of two lethargic exhibition victories and get ready for Friday's Tip-Off Classic in Springfield, Mass., against the Wildcats.

The year after Joe Smith earned Player of the Year honors with his inside brilliance, the Terps are largely a perimeter team trying to find some inside production.

Keith Booth was the only frontcourt threat against the gritty Australian national team that had a 34-31 edge on the boards with a pair of 6-foot-7 inside players.

But for the second straight game, Booth did most of his damage in the second half. He got 14 of his 20 points and five of his nine rebounds after halftime. That effort, along with 23 points from Johnny Rhodes on 10-for-11 shooting and 15 points from Duane Simpkins was enough to get the Terps through the night.

"I just let the game come to me," Booth said. "I'm not trying to force the action. I let the action come to me, and my defense brings my offense."

If the Terps are going to stay with Kentucky, they're going to need the presence of 6-8 center Mario Lucas, who automatically draws comparison to Smith by virtue of his position.

Lucas had a scoreless first half against Brisbane (2-7), broke the drought with a layup three minutes into the second half, and didn't score again until the Terps needed it at the end.

After the Bullets drew within 73-69 with 4:05 to play, Lucas delivered a spin layup, then, moments later, bombed in a three-pointer. That shot sank Brisbane and boosted Lucas.

"I hit a big shot to get my confidence going," he said. "I needed one to go down during the exhibition games."

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