Hipp soars, Terps score 118-55 rout Benched senior rises to challenge, helps dominate Del. State

Above-the-rim style returns

UM vents frustration in 70-23 first half

January 18, 1996|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The Ex-Files, a long-running Maryland basketball series on the skids of late, reopened last night at Cole Field House to a rout and a standing ovation.

Exree Hipp, reduced to a 10th man in last Saturday's loss at Wake Forest, broke out of his season-long slump with a 15-point, eight-rebound performance that won the affections of a crowd of 10,017.

The Terps' 118-55 drubbing of outmanned Delaware State was anticlimactic by comparison.

The sight of Hipp playing above the rim was appreciated most, perhaps, by coach Gary Williams.

"I thought he was more active," Williams said after the Terps (7-6) broke a three-game losing streak. "Before, you didn't see him around the rim, getting offensive rebounds, going for loose balls. Tonight he was in all those situations. He needed that.

"I would think he would come out and do the same thing on Saturday."

The Terps will find out Saturday against North Carolina State whether last night's win was a kick-start for what has been a winless Atlantic Coast Conference season or a one-night reprieve from their recent misery.

Against an overmatched Delaware State squad (4-10), the Terps reached a number of season highs. They poured in 70 points in a raucous first half when their press generated 21 turnovers, a 21-0 run and a 47-point lead. The 70-point half and the 118 total were season highs. Maryland also had season highs with 59 rebounds, 30 assists and eight blocked shots. The Terps' 11 three-pointers tied a school record.

Johnny Rhodes scored 20 points to lead the way. Duane Simpkins tied his personal best with five three-pointers and finished with 19 points.

Obinna Ekezie, a 6-foot-9 freshman making his second start, had 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

And in a display of power dunks, Keith Booth hit for 15 points with eight rebounds. He delivered three first-half dunks, two of the spectacular variety.

But it was Hipp's night, and the 6-8 senior made the most of his return to the starting lineup -- even if he muffed a game-opening lob.

"I set that up," he said. "I told Obinna to tap the ball to Keith and I told Johnny to set a backscreen and try to go for the lob. He [Booth] threw it a little low. I was kind of nervous, but I should have got it."

Hipp hit five of 10 shots, took five offensive rebounds, and passed for four assists. When he came out of the game with 5:30 remaining, the fans behind the Maryland bench greeted him with a standing ovation.

"It's very important [he play well]," Booth said of Hipp. "We feel we'll need Ex down the line. If somebody is struggling with their shot, it's up to us to get him going. Tonight we executed the offense real well."

Hipp's season had been marred by injuries, poor conditioning and a shooting slump. He has reduced his weight from a high of 230 to 208, and showed a style reminiscent of his first three years. He scored nine of his season-high 15 points in the second half.

In a game Maryland needed desperately for its sagging confidence, the Terps played overkill with Delaware State. They outscored the Hornets 42-6 over the final 10 minutes of the first half.

"I thought we played with more intensity," Williams said. "I thought we passed the ball better, got better looks. The reason we made the threes was we made the extra pass.

"If we gain anything from tonight, it's that the players realize how much we have to focus."

If Maryland's seniors responded to a round of clear-the-air meetings earlier in the week, the freshmen also delivered.

Ekezie was a dominant presence inside with his career high of 16 points. Then there was Laron Profit, who contributed nine points and 10 rebounds against the team from his hometown of Dover, Del.

"It's tough right now, but we know we have a good team," Ekezie said. "We worked out real hard this week and decided today was a new season for us."

NOTES: Maryland's home game with Florida State, postponed Jan. 9 by the blizzard, has been rescheduled for March 4 at 8 p.m. That's two days after Maryland plays Virginia and three days before the ACC tournament. . . . Some 2,100 tickets are available for both Saturday's game against N.C. State and the Terps' Jan. 24 game against Clemson.

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