Terps not blue about Carolina Maryland 'pumped' at shot to knock No. 1 from unbeaten ranks

January 14, 1998|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- What was North Carolina's ranking the last time it lost to Maryland at Cole Field House?

No. 1.

That was on Feb. 7, 1995. The seniors at Maryland contributed to that win, but they aren't the only class that has experienced success against North Carolina. The Terps beat the Tar Heels on the road each of the past two years and say they aren't intimidated by them tonight.

"North Carolina is coming in here No. 1 and undefeated," senior forward Rodney Elliott said. "We don't want them to leave that way. We're pumped. We definitely expect to win, but we've got to give it our all for 40 minutes."

The Terps scored an incredible comeback at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill last January, coming from 22 down to hand the Tar Heels the middle loss in an 0-3 start in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Since then, they've won 33 of their past 34 games, the only loss coming to Arizona in the NCAA semifinals.

It's the best stretch at North Carolina in more than four decades.

North Carolina usually goes no deeper than six men, but it hasn't worn down. The unranked Terps (9-5, 2-2) like to think of themselves as a quick team, but no one has beaten the Tar Heels (17-0, 4-0) to the passing lanes and rebounds that count. Forward Antawn Jamison is having an All-America season, and guards Ed Cota and Shammond Williams are ready for any pressure Maryland puts up.

Tonight begins Maryland's toughest stretch of the season. The Terps tangle with the Tar Heels, then play three of their next four games on the road. They'll go to Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and No. 2 Duke, as the only home opponent between tonight and February is Clemson.

"We can't put everything on this one game," Terps coach Gary Williams said. "We can win, get caught up in it, and lose the next three or four. Or we can lose, and remain down if we put so much importance on it."

The Terps rebounded nicely from a 104-72 whipping by Duke on Jan. 3, beating Florida State and N.C. State last week.

"Before Florida State, you could cut the tension in our locker room with a knife," junior forward Laron Profit said. "Now, we have the confidence that we can beat anyone. We're feeling good. Everyone has confidence in each other."

It will be the second straight start at point guard for Terrell Stokes, the junior from Philadelphia who lost his spot on the first five to senior Matt Kovarik after a Dec. 8 loss to George Washington. Stokes scored 14 points, had six assists and committed one turnover in the two wins last week. Kovarik had one point, four assists and five turnovers.

Pub Date: 1/14/98

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