Demon Deacons awake as Terps make return

Wake Forest still in hunt for NCAA tourney bid after recent rout of N.C. State

February 19, 2000|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- In the Atlantic Coast Conference, Maryland is as hot as any team. The Terps' turnaround from an 0-3 start in the ACC began with a 22-point whipping of Wake Forest, so the nation's No. 22 team shouldn't have any trouble in the rematch against the Demon Deacons today, right?

Not so fast.

Maryland (18-7, 7-4) would be expected to handle Wake Forest (14-11, 5-7), except for two factors. The game is at Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, where the Terps have turned in two uninspired losses the past two seasons, and the Demon Deacons are coming off an 18-point win over North Carolina State that rejuvenated their long-shot hopes at the NCAA tournament.

"They still think they have an opportunity to get to the NCAA tournament, if they put it together," Maryland coach Gary Williams said of Wake Forest.

On Monday, freshman wing Josh Howard suggested that some of his teammates had given up on a season in which their only victories in the previous nine ACC games had been over Georgia Tech and Clemson. A day later, the Demon Deacons beat N.C. State by 18, which earned them a share of fifth place with the slumping Wolfpack.

Wake Forest made 54 percent of its field-goal attempts, its best shooting since November. The Demon Deacons made 29 percent, one of the worst marks in the ACC this season, and committed 20 turnovers at Maryland on Jan. 19. Point guard Steve Blake hounded Robert O'Kelley, the Demon Deacons leading scorer, into a 1-for-9 shooting night.

Williams warned that he has seen O'Kelley turn it around before. The junior also had one basket in last season's visit to Cole, when Maryland beat Wake Forest by 23. He got revenge in Winston-Salem, as O'Kelley had 32 points in an 85-72 defeat of the Terps that wasn't that close. Juan Dixon had an explanation for a lousy performance that began with a 10-0 deficit.

"We weren't ready to play," Dixon said. "It was the day of the Super Bowl. Some guys were anxious to get home. I'm not mentioning any names."

Maryland had five seniors, the second pick in the NBA draft and the nation's No. 4 ranking that week. This one doesn't have any scholarship seniors.

"Everyone hasn't told us how good we are," Williams said. "We're not the type of team that thinks because we've had some success, that's going to win games for us in the future."

Terps today

Opponent: Wake Forest (14-11, 5-7 ACC)

Site: Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Time: 4 p.m.

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

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