Terps guard against lapse

Defense in second half is Terps' concern as they head to Fla. State

Still miffed by UNC loss

No. 14 strives to avoid `any more letups'

January 14, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Two days later, the sting of the loss to North Carolina remained very much with junior guard Juan Dixon, who vowed the Maryland Terrapins would not experience any second-half swoons today.

The 14th-ranked Terps will play a Florida State team that should be overmatched. For one, Maryland boasts superior talent and depth against one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's bottom feeders. Secondly, the Terps should be one agitated group when they walk into the Leon County Civic Center.

In light of Wednesday's defensive collapse early in the second half against North Carolina - along with other examples of the Terps curiously coming out lazily at the defensive end after halftime - Maryland (11-4, 2-1) is not just craving another victory.

The Terps are looking to dismantle Florida State (5-10, 0-2) early, then rip the Seminoles apart later. It's as if nothing but a rout will suffice. After all, Florida State matches up poorly with Maryland and had trouble putting away Morgan State recently.

And with No. 6 Wake Forest coming to Cole Field House on Wednesday, Maryland could use an extra lift.

"I ain't talking no trash, but we've got to take all of our anger out on Florida State. We need to put their [butts] away," Dixon said.

"We're going to come in ready to play, especially on the defensive end. It's all business. We can't have any more letups. We'd better get hungry now before it's too late."

Maryland has some defensive business to address, starting with the fact it has allowed an average of 86 points in its first three ACC games.

The Terps also have permitted league opponents to shoot a torrid 46.7 percent from three-point range. The Tar Heels converted eight of their first 10 on their way to a 10-for-16 night and an 86-83 victory, thanks largely to numerous wide-open looks at the basket. Carolina produced 54 points in the second half.

"Hopefully, we'll realize the intensity level necessary to play great defense for the whole game," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "This group played good defense last year, for the most part. There's no reason we can't do it the rest of the way."

As for the second-half stumbles that characterized losses to Illinois and Wisconsin and victories over Penn and Georgia Tech before killing the Terps against Carolina, Williams said, "It can't happen to any team that wants to be any good. We've led every game this year at halftime. I don't know why [the second-half problems] happened."

Besides fixing their defense, both in transition and especially half court, the Terps also are looking to tighten an offense that missed some layups and open outside shots while rushing some ill-advised attempts against the Tar Heels.

Junior forward Byron Mouton wants to snap out of a mini-slump. Mouton has scored just six points in his last two games, shooting 2-for-8 over that stretch. Point guard Steve Blake, who started strong with several steals early against the Tar Heels before fading, hit only two of nine shots and is averaging just 3.7 points on 26.7 percent shooting against the ACC.

The bench trio of Danny Miller, Drew Nicholas and Mike Mardesich combined to make four of 16 shots against the Tar Heels.

Florida State boasts an early candidate for ACC Freshman of the Year in forward Michael Joiner, who grabbed 17 rebounds in a 76-53 loss to Wake Forest on Tuesday. The Seminoles also rely heavily on junior guard Monte Cummings, who is averaging 15 points and 5.5 rebounds per game against the ACC.

For Maryland, senior forward Terence Morris will go for his third consecutive double double after posting 21 points and 12 rebounds against UNC. Junior center Lonny Baxter will try to avoid foul trouble after drawing 13 in his last three games and fouling out against the Tar Heels.

And Dixon, feeling better after battling an intestinal virus by scoring a team-high 22 on Wednesday, will try to sustain a nine-game run, during which he has averaged 22.9 points.

Dixon spoke like a teammate who refused to accept anything less than a full-effort thrashing of the Seminoles.

"We should know what it takes to win. We have a year's more experience," he said. "For us not to put forth the effort in the second half that we gave in the first, I don't understand it. We need to grow up."

Terps today

Opponent: Florida State

Site: Leon County Civic Center, Tallahassee, Fla.

Time: 1:30 p.m.

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

Records: Maryland 11-4, 2-1 ACC; Florida State 5-10, 0-2 ACC

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