Road-tough Terps roll by Clemson

Baxter's 25 points power fourth straight ACC road win, 76-63

Blake hits four 3-pointers

Littlejohn joins Cameron on hit list

February 23, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Lonny Baxter, Steve Blake and the Maryland basketball team chased away another road demon last night.

Littlejohn Coliseum and Clemson were exorcised by the 19th-ranked Terps, 76-63, nearly two weeks after fabled Cameron Indoor Stadium and Duke fell to the onrushing Maryland squad.

It was the fourth straight Atlantic Coast Conference road win for the Terps, who reduced usually tough Littlejohn to just another basketball court last night.

Baxter overpowered a somewhat soft 7-foot-1, 257-pound Adam Allenspach for 25 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots.

Freshman point guard Blake probably played his top all-around game this season by hitting four of five three-pointers, getting six assists and five rebounds, and holding explosive Will Solomon to 12 points with some textbook defensive play.

Blake, who finished with 14 points, also apparently escaped any serious damage to his right ankle, which he turned in the final minutes and left the game. Maryland trainer J. J. Bush iced down the ankle and Blake said, "It should be fine. I feel OK."

Juan Dixon, who entered tied with Solomon for the ACC scoring lead at 21.6 points per game, had a quiet but important 11 points and ran his Littlejohn record to 2-0.

The Tigers had won nine of the last 11 meetings with Maryland here before last night.

The Terps (20-7, 9-4) ran away to their seventh straight ACC victory for the first time since the 1973-74 Maryland squad accomplished the feat.

It was certainly an impressive performance by a Maryland team that didn't hang around long to gloat. The Terps not only hit quick on the court but they vanished into the clear South Carolina night less than 25 minutes after the game was over.

It was all accomplished with preseason ACC Player of the Year pick Terence Morris contributing just four points and six rebounds in 25 foul-plagued minutes.

However, coach Gary Williams was quick to rush to Morris' defense.

"Everybody seems to want to bash Terence lately," said Williams. "Terence plays good defense and is an excellent passer. Even if he doesn't score he is going to be the guy who helps set up a lot of things for this team."

But the evening belonged mostly to Baxter and Blake, who seemed to be laughing in the faces of the Tigers (9-17, 3-10) and their storied Littlejohn mystique.

Baxter racked up 21 points in the first 20 minutes of the game and wasn't overly complimentary of the home team.

"They were fouling me a lot," said the Terps' 6-8, 265-pound center. "They didn't move their feet well and they continued to hack with their hands. In the first half we wanted to push it inside a lot and that's how we got our offense going. They started out in a zone and that slowed things up, but once they went to a man [-to-man defense], the pace picked up."

The quicker pace enabled Maryland to build quickly on a 37-25 first-half lead. Baxter's put-back of a Drew Nicholas miss gave the Terps a 55-39 lead with 12: 12 left in the game.

After that, it was mostly all show time for a team that was supposed to win but wasn't expected to blow out the Tigers on their home court.

Maryland's biggest lead was 22 points at 74-52 when Baxter jammed off a Morris miss on a fast break with 3: 46 left in the game.

Williams said: "Lonny was an extreme force inside against a legitimate 7-footer in Allenspach, who I think has improved every year. Lonny is an excellent shot-blocker and was at his best tonight."

There was also praise from Williams for Blake and the three Maryland reserves -- Nicholas (nine points), Tahj Holden (2-for-2 beyond the arc) and Mike Mardesich, who contributed.

"Steve did a very good job as far as when to shoot and when to pass," said Williams. "He didn't force any shots. Our guys knew when to shoot. When we are open, we are supposed to shoot. I'm very proud of the way we played."

When asked if his mostly unassuming young team just might be ready to walk with a swagger now that it has began to march through the ACC with seven straight wins, Williams said, "We're too young to be cocky, but we are gaining confidence."

Allenspach did finish with 20 points and 10 rebounds in the loss, but he just couldn't handle Baxter, a fellow sophomore.

Clemson coach Larry Shyatt said, "Baxter took the game over inside unlike any other player we have faced this season and tonight he taught our guys some things about making shots on their own. Baxter, Morris and Dixon could all be all-league players."

Shyatt went on to spread some praise to Williams, "Gary Williams is a great coach. He turned an 0-3 team into the best team in the conference right now. They are an excellent team with a lot of balance."

Now, it's on to a 1: 30 p.m. meeting with North Carolina at Cole Field House on Saturday.

ACC standings

Conference Overall

School W-L W-L

Duke 13-1 22-3

Maryland 9-4 20-7

Virginia 8-5 18-8

N. Carolina 7-5 16-10

Fla. State 5-7 10-13

N.C. State 5-8 15-9

Wake Forest 5-9 14-13

Ga. Tech 3-9 11-14

Clemson 3-10 9-17

Yesterday's results

Maryland 76, Clemson 63

Duke 96, Wake Forest 78

Today's game

UNC at Florida St., 9 p.m.

Tomorrow's game

N.C. St. at Ga. T., 7: 30 p.m.

Next for Terps

Opponent: North Carolina (16-10, 7-5 ACC)

Site: Cole Field House

When: Saturday, 1: 30 p.m.

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