Terrapins deliver on 2nd chance

Rebounding, defense make up for misses vs. Fla. State, 76-55

No UM letup after halftime

In `ugly' game, 'Noles held to 31.3 percent shooting from field

College Basketball

January 15, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The ugliness looked beautiful to Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams.

Yesterday's 76-55 victory by the visiting, 14th-ranked Terrapins over Florida State will not be shown on any classic sports channels anytime soon. Only 4,602 spectators trickled into the Leon County Civic Center to view it.

Some of the lowlights included 11 of 12 missed shots by Maryland senior forward Terence Morris, who made layups look like 20-footers. Junior center Lonny Baxter missed six of 10 shots from the floor and six of 10 at the free-throw line. Juan Dixon showed his dependable inside game while leading all scorers with 19 points, but he also had a game-high six turnovers.

The Terps (12-4, 3-1) traded their flash for grit yesterday. They controlled the boards. They forced two Florida State starters to foul out, including heralded freshman forward Michael Joiner, who went scoreless in 18 invisible minutes. Maryland pressured the Seminoles' point guard tandem of Delvon Arrington and Ryan Lowery into eight turnovers, while allowing them one assist.

Maryland won with defense, which had been missing lately, particularly in the second half. The Seminoles, despite trying a variety of lineups that included a four-guard set, and despite hanging with the Terps stubbornly for much of the day, never could mount a serious run.

In the end, the Seminoles (5-11, 0-3) shot just 31.3 percent from the floor, the lowest number the Terps have allowed this season. Maryland was especially good on the perimeter, permitting only three three-pointers in 14 attempts. And the Terps, by scoring the game's last nine points, won the second-half battle, 40-27.

"We weren't real sharp, but I thought we played hard, especially in the second half. I told the team at halftime we had to be tough," said Williams, who was a tad emotional in the locker room after Maryland had missed chances to blow the game open early before taking a modest, 36-28 lead at the break.

"It wasn't how many times the ball was going to go in the basket, it was how tough we were going to play. We've been criticized for our defense lately, and this is a time where we had to win it with our defense. We had to get through the mental thing."

Said Dixon: "I know it was ugly, but that's Florida State. They make you play ugly. They don't have a lot of players they can go to offensively, and we just had to keep them off the boards and hustle on defense. We knew we had to perform in the second half."

After surrendering the first four points of the second half, when the Seminoles crept to within 36-32, the Terps did the necessary dirty work and overcame their own shortcomings against an inferior opponent. They also made some good adjustments, for example, by posting up guards like Dixon and Drew Nicholas (five points, four assists) effectively against Florida State's four-guard set in the second half.

Maryland made only eight of 17 free throws in the second half, but Baxter and Morris owned the paint by finishing with a combined 27 rebounds. Florida State never allowed the Terps to get into a transition game, so Maryland countered by killing the Seminoles slowly with their depth. Junior forward Danny Miller led another good effort by the Terps' bench with eight points.

By the time Florida State guard Adrian Crawford (team-high 13 points) hit a three-pointer to cut the Terps' lead to 67-55 with 3:35 left, the Seminoles already had lost Joiner and center Mike Mathews to fouls. The Seminoles never scored again.

"We had the lead, and we had to come out and win the second half," Miller said. "We've been notorious for not playing well at the start of the second half. We had to show that we could."

The best thing to be said about Maryland's first-half play was the Terps took a lead of 18-15 with just under nine minutes left and never lost it. But the Terps were far from proficient, as they never could extend the margin beyond 12 points.

Florida State certainly tried to cooperate. The Seminoles missed their first nine shots, then went on to miss 26 of 36 attempts for the half.

And yet, Maryland played down to its competition's subpar level by committing nine turnovers - including five by Dixon - and missing a slew of inside attempts. The Terps went 0-for-6 on one possession alone.

After seemingly matching the Seminoles missed shot for missed shot, Maryland finally showed some offensive life by producing a 12-0 run to open a 27-15 lead with 6:57 left.

Dixon started the run with a three-pointer. Then, the Maryland bench took over, starting with Nicholas' eight-foot turnaround in the lane. Miller then answered with a three-pointer and a fast-break layup. Dixon followed by feeding freshman forward Chris Wilcox for a slam to complete the run.

The Seminoles did not fold, however. They used a 10-6 spurt over the half's final 3:25 to trim Maryland's halftime lead to eight.

"We missed a lot of layups today. I pretty much missed 11 layups," Morris said. "These are the kinds of games you have to play in. On the road, not a lot of people here."

The scene will change dramatically on Wednesday, when Maryland plays host to No. 6 Wake Forest before a sellout crowd at Cole Field House. There, the Terps will take their fourth crack at a ranked opponent. Maryland has yet to beat one.

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