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 and the Maryland basketball team chased away another road demon last night.

Littlejohn Coliseum and Clemson was 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 Maryland, which reduced usually-tough Littlejohn to just another basketball court last night.

Also, the Terps rolled to their seventh straight ACC victory for the first time since the 1973-74 season. That '73-74 Maryland team is often considered the best in the school's history since it lost in overtime in the ACC tournament final to N.C. State, which went on to defeat UCLA for the national championship.

The Terps (20-7, 9-4) had lost nine of its last 11 meetings with the Tigers (9-17, 3-10) in Littlejohn, but that was before Juan Dixon. The former Calvert Hall standout has helped Maryland win back-to-back games at Clemson for the first time in 16 seasons.

Dixon didn't exactly light up the Tigers with one of his 30-point nights, but he did score 11, including a few key baskets in a first-half surge.

Baxter virtually took the renowned Clemson fans out of the game from the start as he rolled up 21 points in the first 20 minutes and went on to score a game-high 25 points, block six shots and grab nine rebounds.

It was an evening made for the 6-foot-8, 265-pound Baxter, who continues to wear out opponents who don't have a big and physical center. Clemson's 7-1, 257-pound Adam Allenspach has the size, but he is basically a soft inside player.

"Lonny was outstanding against a legitimate 7-footer in Allenspach," said coach Gary Williams. "He's always been an excellent shot blocker and tonight he did it against a guy who is four inches taller."

Steve Blake, before turning his ankle with four minutes left, also played a major role in the surprisingly easy victory, hitting a career-high four three-pointers and finishing with 14 points and six assists.

Maryland trainer J. J. Bush iced down the injury, and Blake said, "It's OK. I think I'll be fine."

And to think Maryland did all this with a less-than-average night from Terence Morris, who scored just four points and had six rebounds, collecting his third foul early in the second half.

The first half was mostly all Terps as they executed inside and outside to follow Williams' final instructions before the team left College Park Monday evening.

Baxter was all over Clemson in the lane, bulling his way to 16 points and four rebounds to pace Maryland to a 37-25 advantage at halftime.

The visitors also threw up 12 three-pointers and hit five in the first 20 minutes. Blake hit two from beyond the arc and had five assists before intermission.

The Terps shot 46.2 percent from the floor and had just five turnovers.

Maryland put on a clinic in the opening minutes, moving the ball around the perimeter for three wide-open three-pointers and going inside two times for a dunk and a layup.

Dixon, Blake and Miller all tossed in three-pointers and Blake fed Baxter for a jam and Dixon for a layup. It took the Terps a little more than four minutes to build a 15-4 lead, prompting Clemson to call for a timeout to regroup.

The early Maryland assault had the usually boisterous Clemson fans sitting on their hands but they perked up when the home team fought back to a 23-16 deficit midway in the first half.

The Clemson rally began with a Chucky Gilmore jumper that reduced the margin to 22-10 and closed with a Will Solomon 15-footer to close the lead to 23-16.

Solomon, the ACC co-scoring leader with Dixon, was mostly silent in the first 10 minutes as a hustling Blake played him tightly. Blake was sharp from the opening tip and it was reflected in Maryland's 32-16 lead with six minutes left in the half.

The slender freshman point guard showed his defensive mettle with four minutes remaining in the half when Solomon tried to beat him in the lane with a crossover dribble. But Blake showed some super footwork and cut him off near the foul line.

Solomon finished with 12 points and Allenspach had 20.

There were a few flaws in the Maryland game in the first half but it was mostly an impressive show at Littlejohn, taking the crowd out of the action.

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.

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