Tech nothing new to Terps

Run-and-gun Jackets mirrors of Clemson

January 06, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- If you thought Maryland's Atlantic Coast Conference opener at Clemson was fast-moving and full of shooting highlights, consider the possibilities today, when the 17th-ranked Terrapins play their ACC home opener against Georgia Tech at Cole Field House.

Like Clemson, which bombarded the Terps with a run-and-gun attack before fading in the late minutes of a 104-92 Maryland victory on Tuesday night, Georgia Tech has been picked to finish in the second tier of the ACC.

The Yellow Jackets (8-4, 0-1) have a young coach in first-year man Paul Hewitt, who loves his teams to run baseline-to-baseline and shoot often, just the way Larry Shyatt's Tigers do at Clemson.

Like Clemson, Georgia Tech has made 117 three-point baskets. The schools are tied for second in the ACC in that category.

Georgia Tech, led by the backcourt duo of Tony Atkins and Shaun Fein and 6-foot-11 center Alvin Jones, has Maryland's full attention. The Yellow Jackets already have beaten UCLA and Kentucky. They love to apply full-court pressure and feed off of fast breaks. And these guys are never shy about firing from the perimeter.

The way Maryland coach Gary Williams sees it, Georgia Tech promises to test the Terps seriously at the defensive end. Maryland (10-3, 1-0), in search of its 10th consecutive victory, surrendered 56 points while scoring 59 during a wild first half at Clemson.

Williams envisions similar possibilities today. Forget about the Yellow Jackets being a mere tuneup for Wednesday night's match against visiting North Carolina.

"One of the great things about college basketball is there's not just one way to play," Williams said. "Obviously, [Georgia Tech] can play. Their new coach has done a good job of putting the things he likes to do into the way they play. They shoot a ton of threes. They get up and down the floor, and they will press us. They're good."

Georgia Tech appears to be added evidence of a stronger ACC and an evolving league, at least in terms of offensive philosophy. Wake Forest is relying on transition more, as is North Carolina. Duke and Virginia have long been comfortable in the running game. The Terps, with a bench that allows them to go 10 players deep, don't mind a track meet.

"Everyone in our league is running," Terps backup center Mike Mardesich said. "We think our defense is a lot better than what we showed at Clemson. We have to prove that in the games ahead."

Today's game should feature an attractive battle on the blocks between Terps center Lonny Baxter and Jones, his Georgia Tech counterpart.

Baxter leads Maryland in scoring (17.9) and leads the ACC in field-goal percentage (.625). Jones, who nearly left school early for the NBA and has a height advantage over the 6-8 Baxter, averages 14.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and leads the conference with 3.58 blocked shots per game.

Things could get quite interesting when the ball gets kicked out to the guards. Fein (15.4 ppg), Atkins (13.6 ppg, 4.8 assists per game) and freshman Marvin Lewis (10.9 ppg) all have proven scoring ability. Maryland counters from the perimeter with Juan Dixon (17.8 ppg), Byron Mouton (13.6), Drew Nicholas (52.8 percent from three-point range) and Terence Morris.

Morris, averaging 13.1 points, finally has begun to look like the All-America player he was projected to be. In his past three games, he's scored 55 points, grabbed 23 rebounds and converted 13 of 16 free-throw attempts. His 18-point second-half performance at Clemson ranks as the high point of his senior year so far.

"It gives me a good feeling. But just doing that in one game is not enough," Morris said. "If I can do that more consistently through the ACC season, then I'll really feel good."

NOTES: Maryland leads the ACC with a scoring average of 93.1 points. Dixon leads the league with 2.92 steals per game. Point guard Steve Blake leads the conference with 7.6 assists per game. The Terps are second in field-goal percentage (.510) and first in three-point shooting percentage (.426). Georgia Tech is third (.409). ... Sophomore reserve forward Tahj Holden, recovering from a broken bone in his left foot, could begin practicing in the next week to 10 days. Team trainer J. J. Bush said the bone is healing properly, and that Holden will try running next week. Bush added that, should Holden suffer a significant setback, there is a chance that he could be redshirted.

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