Terps mindful of playing smart vs. No. 2 Kansas Reducing mistakes key to Maryland upset chances

December 07, 1997|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Now that Maryland has visited the Land of Oz, the Terps get a look at Kansas.

Coach Gary Williams is still ruing Thursday's overtime loss at Clemson, in the earliest Atlantic Coast Conference game in Maryland history. The Terps displayed courage and heart that the Lion and Tin Man would have appreciated, but like the Scarecrow, they were sometimes in search of a brain.

Maryland (3-2), which is ranked No. 23, must forget the opportunity it wasted, and step up its play against No. 2 Kansas (8-0) in the 1: 30 p.m. opener of the Franklin National Bank Classic at the MCI Center in Washington. George Washington plays Penn in the second semifinal, with the championship and consolation games tomorrow.

The Terps will have to improve their decision-making if they want to beat the Jayhawks, who are usually one of the nation's most cerebral outfits, from the Academic All-Americans to the way they execute Roy Williams' system.

"It's not just the physical thing when you're playing Kansas," Gary Williams said. "It's the mental thing. You have to be ready to play smart. We have to play more intelligently."

That was not something Maryland did at Clemson.

The Terps moved out to a 19-11 lead, but then the Tigers switched to a 2-3 zone, and Maryland went nearly nine minutes without a point from its half-court offense.

They scrapped to a 65-61 lead, but blew that in the final 62 seconds of regulation, and the acquiescence continued in overtime, when the Terps abandoned their inside game and were outscored 13-0.

It was a particularly rough finish for junior point guard Terrell Stokes, whose two attempts to penetrate in the final 30 seconds resulted in a turnover and a charge.

"It wasn't one of his best games," Gary Williams said. "After being up four at the end, we didn't get a shot off on either of our last two possessions. We have to do a better job in those situations."

Stokes has four assists and nine turnovers in the Terps' two losses, to No. 17 Clemson and No. 5 South Carolina.

The residue of those sticky setbacks would be wiped clean by a victory over Kansas, which would rank as Maryland's most significant win since Jan. 19. That's when the Terps won at Wake Forest, which was No. 2 at the time.

Pub Date: 12/07/97

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