Duncan turns fans' boos to boohoos Wake All-American rises in 2nd half to silence crowd

February 02, 1997|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- It was a rude reception, the kind that All-America center Tim Duncan has come to expect when second-ranked Wake Forest enters another unfriendly Atlantic Coast Conference arena.

The sellout crowd of 14,500 at Cole Field House greeted his arrival on the court yesterday with a rhythmic chant -- "O-ver-rated, O-ver-rated" -- no doubt hoping that saying it loud enough would somehow make it so.

Duncan could shake it off after the Demon Deacons came from behind to score a 74-69 victory over fifth-ranked Maryland, but for the first 20 minutes he -- and his teammates -- again seemed unable to play up to their billing.

"It wasn't looking good early," Duncan said. "It was like deja vu."

It was too reminiscent of the day that the Terrapins became the only team to defeat Wake Forest this year, the day that Maryland jumped out to a big first-half lead and then hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to score a stunning road victory that vaulted the Terps into the Top 10. Duncan made the connection, then made the necessary correction to assure that the outcome this time would be different.

He had scored just four points in the first half, and the Terrapins again carried a big lead (43-31) into intermission. He scored 25 in the second half to finish with a season-high 29, and the Deacons marched back to improve their record to 18-1, 8-1 in the ACC.

"We knew we had to get something going somehow," Duncan said. "We were kind of passive in the first half. We had to go out and get the ball in there and get some shots going. They had us FTC back on our heels in the first half and that's the way they like to play."

The Demon Deacons had failed to exploit their decided height advantage under the basket in the first 20 minutes, but guards Tony Rutland and Jerry Braswell forced the ball inside in the second half and Duncan did the rest.

"He didn't really say anything," Braswell said afterward. "When we got in the huddle, we knew what Coach [Dave Odom] wanted us to do. We had to get the ball inside. He [Duncan] knew and we knew."

Wake Forest also did a great job of shutting down the Maryland running game in the second half, which allowed Duncan to conserve his energy for a tense finish that turned on a big play at the other end of the court.

He and forward Ricky Peral teamed up to stop Maryland forward Keith Booth as he drove for a potential tying basket in the final seconds of the game. The shot, which may or may not have been tipped by Duncan, sailed over the rim and the Demon Deacons held on to increase their conference lead to two games over Maryland and Clemson.

Duncan knew that Booth would have the ball at the end. Everybody did.

"I would have been disappointed if it hadn't come to him," Duncan said. "I wanted to stop him, but he made a great move and got by me. Ricky did a good job to come up and help out and I tipped the ball from behind I think."

Booth wanted the foul. Maryland center Obinna Ekezie, who sat out more than half the game in foul trouble, complained after the game that Duncan had gotten something of a free ride from the officials, but that perception probably is enhanced by Duncan's smooth inside game and his unparalleled shot-blocking ability.

He is the most dominating player in college basketball, even if it took awhile yesterday for him to prove it.

"It was a great win for us against a tough team," Duncan said. "That's the kind of win that makes a championship club. We're doing real well, but you can't say this is it. We still have the second half of the [ACC] season and, as you see, every game is a challenge."

In this game, the crowd issued the first challenge, but Duncan said he didn't need any extra motivation going into the rematch with the only team that has left a blemish on Wake Forest's record.

"I didn't really care," he said. "They celebrated real well down at our place and we just wanted to do the same here."

The Terminator

Opposing players have fouled out 17 times against Wake Forest center Tim Duncan this season:

Maryland: Obinna Ekezie (twice)

Florida State: Kirk Luchman, Corey Louis

Clemson: Harold Jamison

Virginia: Colin Ducharme, Craig McAndrew

Utah: Michael Doleac

Campbell: Andre King, Jason Smith

UMass: Lari Ketner, Ajmal Basit, Inus Norville

N.C. State: Damon Thornton, Jeremy Hyatt

Davidson: Chadd Holmes

The Citadel: Kirill Misyuchenko

Pub Date: 2/02/97

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