Terps awaken in rout

Maryland ends slide with 73-51 romp over Wake Forest

UM gets first ACC victory

Baxter, Holden step up

defense silences Wake

January 20, 2000|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- More than midway through the college basketball season, Maryland coach Gary Williams is still honing his rotation. Suffice it to say, it will include a bigger role for freshman forward Tahj Holden after last night's 73-51 pounding of Wake Forest at Cole Field House.

The Terps (12-5, 1-3) ended their first three-game losing streak in three years, as they played stifling defense for most of the 40 minutes and got a career-high 17 points and six rebounds from Holden, who had scored two points in Maryland's first three Atlantic Coast Conference games.

A loss would have sent No. 24 Maryland into the cellar of the Atlantic Coast Conference with lowly Clemson and endangered the Terps' bid for a seventh straight bid to the NCAA tournament. Instead, Maryland is a Saturday win over the Tigers away from the middle of the pack in an ACC race that is wide-open once you get past Duke.

The Terps had lost seven of their last nine to Wake Forest (11-6, 2-3), but Lonny Baxter dunked off the opening tip and the Demon Deacons never had a possession to tie after the first minute.

While Maryland got little from preseason All-American forward Terence Morris and staged a spotty offensive performance, the Terps' defense seldom wavered. Wake Forest shot 29 (18 of 62) from the field, and the spearhead there was freshman point guard Steve Blake, who limited Robert O'Kelley, the Demon Deacons' leading scorer, to four points.

Unhappy with O'Kelley's effort, Wake Forest coach Dave Odom benched him for much of the second half.

Besides Holden, who had played 12 minutes in ACC losses to N.C. State, Duke and Georgia Tech.

Considering the circumstances, and it was easily Holden's best performance in a college game.

With Baxter showing the way, the Terps made their first nine shots and had a 20-point lead before the game was seven minutes old, but then they stopped attacking the basket and allowed the Demon Deacons to get within eight, at 37-29, early in the second half. Maryland went 21 minutes without a free throw.

Baxter's power move provided Maryland with its first points of the second half with 16: 50 left, and ignited a 10-0 spurt that put away Wake Forest for good.

Morris broke the ignominious free stretch with a three-point play off the offensive board. With Baxter in foul trouble, Maryland needed another front-court player to step forward, and Holden was up to the task.

Holden followed Morris with a three-point play of his own off an in-bounds pass, then added a three-pointer from the left corner, further establishing him as the first big man off the bench. When he flipped in a left-handed shot en route to a three-point play with 8: 52 left, Odom kicked the scorer's table.

Danny Miller followed with two baskets, the second in transition, to push the Maryland lead back up to 58-38 with 7: 39 left. It grew to 61-40 on a Morris basket with 6: 00 left, but he limped off the court during the next possession after turning his left ankle.

Morris, who finished with seven points on 3-of-11 shotting, did not return, but his teammates kept up the pressure and the bulge got as big as 69-40.

Maryland opened with an energized, sharp display in the game's first four minutes, as it scored on its first nine possessions. The Terps started a perfect 9-9 from the field, and their first mistake didn't come until the fifth minute, when Morris mishandled a pass from Blake.

With the exception of Baxter, who made his first seven shots, the Terps cooled off considerably, and the Demon Deacons were able to trim the 20-point deficit to 10, 36-26, at the half. Most of the Wake Forest comeback came during a Maryland scoreless stretch of more than five minutes and allowed the Demon Deacons to score eight straight points and cut what had been a 29-10 bulge to 29-18 with 9: 11 left in the half.

After that hot start, Maryland missed 24 of its next 33 shots, as Odom used 10 players, four timeouts and changing defenses to slow Maryland.

Morris continued his shooting woes, as he was 1-of-7 from the field in the first half. He and Dixon were a combined 3-for-14 from the field at one point, but the sophomore guard got going and scored the Terps' last eight points of the first half, the best being a difficult attempt off an in-bounds pass.

Maryland took control early with a 12-0 run that pushed its lead to 18-4, and enjoyed two leads of 20 points, the last at 27-7 on a possession that was particularly frustrating for Wake Forest. The Terps kept controlled several offensive rebounds before Holden got a putback the hard way, with a three-pointer from the left wing.

Baxter dunked off the opening tip, and had 14 of the Terps' 24 points, several in the open court.

NOTES: Maryland made it official and named Morris and senior walk-on Matt Hahn co-captains. The two have been coming out for the captains' meeting since the start of the season. Sophomore guard Ervin Murray made his first start for Wake Forest. The Terps had their 10th straight game with at least 10 steals.

Next for Terps

Opponent: Clemson

When: Saturday, 4 p.m.

Where: Cole Field House, College Park

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

ACC standings

School Conf. Overall

Duke 5-0 14-2

N.C. State 3-2 12-3

Virginia 3-2 12-5

North Carolina 2-2 11-7

Georgia Tech 2-2 9-7

Florida State 2-2 7-8

Wake Forest 2-3 11-6

Maryland 1-3 12-5

Clemson 0-4 6-11

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