Miller rebounds, so does Maryland

One of many Terps to struggle Thursday, he scores 10, adds solid `D'

NCAA Tournament

March 18, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

BOISE, Idaho - Count Danny Miller among the many players who hated the way he played on Thursday. Count Miller among the many players who made Georgia State pay yesterday.

Miller, Maryland's 6-foot-8 junior forward from Mount Holly, N.J., did not earn the biggest headlines after the 79-60 thumping of Georgia State, which put the Terps back in the Sweet 16 for the third time in the past four years.

Those belonged to the frontcourt tandem of Lonny Baxter and Terence Morris, who scored only six combined points in a first-round, 83-80 victory over George Mason, by lighting up Georgia State for a combined 33 points and 23 rebounds.

Miller's contribution off the bench yesterday was huge, beginning with his clampdown on Georgia State swingman Shernard Long.

Long had no room to penetrate and rarely had an open look at the basket, after collecting 16 first-half points to keep the Panthers in range at 41-37 at halftime.

Defense was only part of Miller's big day - he also scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and added three assists. Miller made all four of his attempts from the floor and committed only one turnover.

Twenty-three minutes of playing time could not have been much cleaner.

"I was disappointed with my play against George Mason. A lot of people were," said Miller, who scored only two points and was not a factor in the first-round victory. "We made it a point to get that off of our chest and play our game today."

Miller's game is not flashy. The former McDonald's All-American is big and long-armed enough to bother most offensive players, quick enough to drive past a sloppy defender, tough enough to rebound effectively against taller players, versatile enough to play guard or forward. He also might be the second-best ballhandler on the Terps, behind starting point guard Steve Blake.

Miller also has been humble and team-oriented enough to take an early-season benching - in favor of Byron Mouton - in stride.

"Danny is a good player. I'm a good player. Our main focus is to play as a team at that position, and Danny is a great teammate," said Mouton, who got into foul trouble yesterday and finished with only five points, two days after tying for the team lead with 22 points.

No problem, as Miller came to the rescue. He was Mouton-like with his fierce rebounding, and he made his shots count.

And when Maryland was trying to put away the Panthers, who had just taken their only lead of the second half at 43-42, Mouton gave Maryland the lead again with a three-pointer.

Twenty seconds later, Miller ripped an offensive rebound away from two Georgia State players, then drove for a layup to make it 47-43.

Miller then fueled the 16-2 run that essentially dumped Georgia State with another layup and some timely rebounds and great passes. He drove hard to the basket and drew a foul, hit a pair of free throws to make it 67-52, then produced a steal that foiled a Panthers fast break.

Miller is continuing a late-season roll that followed a midseason slump. His 14-point, six-rebound, six-assist effort played a big role in a regular-season rout of Virginia. His seven points were huge in the win at Duke on Feb. 27.

On Thursday against Georgetown in the West regional semifinals, Miller will be back on the bench, rooting for Mouton, waiting to contribute.

"There's competitiveness between us. That's natural. Everybody wants to play as much as they can, as well as they can," Miller said. "We like each other. We're good friends. I'm happy when he plays well. He's happy when I play well. That's why we have chemistry."

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