Terps shove aside FSU

Punished by Williams, team ups intensity for 1st ACC road win, 82-63

Baxter's 24 lead rise inside

`We were meaner, which I was glad to see'

January 30, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Maryland basketball team dunked over Florida State players. The Terrapins banged inside and got in the Seminoles' faces. They even talked trash to the crowd.

For the first time this season, the No. 22 Terrapins competed with a hard shell on the road by whipping Florida State, 82-63, before 5,534 at the Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center yesterday.

Maryland (14-6, 3-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) arrived cranky and slammed down its first league road win with authority. Controlling a double-figure lead for the final 10: 24, the Terps recorded their largest margin of victory on an ACC opponent's home court in 17 years.

The attitude adjustment received a little nudge from coach Gary Williams. After Maryland lost at North Carolina on Thursday, he didn't allow players to listen to music on a hushed flight to Florida State. The next day, Williams didn't mention Florida State in his only day of preparation and pushed his players hard in a no-nonsense, two-hour practice that included only plays on feeding the ball inside, something they failed to do at Chapel Hill.

The result:

The Terps busted open a 47-42 lead three minutes into the second half with a 12-4 run, with four of their five baskets in that spurt coming in the paint. Maryland forward Terence Morris accounted for half the points in that span, but most of the scoring punch yesterday was delivered by center Lonny Baxter (season-high 24 points) and guard Juan Dixon (23 points).

"We weren't that nice today. We were a little meaner, which I was glad to see," said Williams, whose team didn't arrive here until 1: 30 a.m. Friday after a bus-filled and snow-filled two days in Carolina. "We were tough. We could have been really down and flat after what happened in Carolina. So we made a major step today."

Maryland pushed the ball at every opportunity and wasn't in a layup type of mood. The Terps powered down three slams in the first half, the last being Baxter's one-handed dunk that began just inside the foul line and ended with the Seminoles' 6-foot-7, 220-pound Damous Anderson on his back.

That unusual display of aggression staked Maryland to a 45-30 margin 1: 17 before halftime and rounded out a 22-point effort in the first half for Baxter. The sophomore, however, managed only eight minutes following the break after being called for his fourth foul with 14: 26 left in the game.

After that, Dixon picked up the slack offensively and in other areas. The Calvert Hall graduate knocked down five of his six shots in the second half for 15 points as well as taking a jab at a courtside heckler, saying, "Just look at the score."

"That's the attitude we should have out there," said Morris, who finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and three steals. "We've got to go out with some cockiness. We have to show that we won't back down."

On Thursday, Maryland shied away from the Tar Heels, taking nearly half of its shots from three-point range. But yesterday, the Terrapins were more afraid of knocking heads with Williams and his philosophy of looking inside first than the Seminoles (8-10, 3-4).

In its first 17 half-court possessions, Maryland passed the ball to one of its post players, Baxter or Morris, 15 times despite its frontcourt giving up six inches to its Florida State counterparts. Still, it worked as the Terps hit 11 of their first 16 shots and finished at 48 percent, their finest shooting day in the ACC season.

"We were fooling ourselves thinking we could win on the road in this league and not go inside," Williams said.

While the Terps attacked physically, they never lost their cool. They forced 13 steals and blocked seven shots on the defensive end, but maintained their composure offensively under Steve Blake.

The freshman point guard ran the stringent game plan efficiently and effortlessly with seven assists and just one turnover. Maryland took his cue from there, notching 21 assists on 29 baskets (73 percent) while turning the ball over a season-low seven times.

"I have to credit Maryland," Florida State coach Steve Robinson said. "They played like a team and were more aggressive offensively and defensively."

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