No. 2 Terps open with a whimper

Young, unranked Arizona pulls upset of Maryland, 71-67

Baxter: 'We got outworked'

Late 4-point play key for "Cats

Terps face Temple tonight

November 09, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - The Maryland Terrapins had the experience, the gaudy No. 2 ranking and the high expectations that come with starting anew after going to their first Final Four.

And none of it mattered last night at Madison Square Garden, where the unranked Arizona Wildcats, full of youth and inexperience, refused to blink and gave the Terps a lesson to think about in the season opener for both teams.

Led by junior point guard Jason Gardner, the Wildcats recovered from a brief stumble in the first half, pulled even with Maryland at intermission, then made the Terps chase them for much of the second half before easing to a 71-67 victory in the opening round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic before 12,615.

Gardner led all scorers with 23 points, including a four-point play that gave Arizona the lead for good with just over three minutes left. Fellow junior Rick Anderson (10 points) clinched the victory by sinking a pair of free throws with three seconds left, sending Maryland into tonight's consolation round against Temple.

Senior guard Juan Dixon led Maryland with 21 points, five assists and five steals, but played for only 25 minutes because of foul trouble. Senior center Lonny Baxter scored 14 points and had nine rebounds. Forwards Byron Mouton and Chris Wilcox scored 10 points apiece.

Asked if Maryland might"ve take the Wildcats lightly, Dixon said, "I hope guys weren't thinking like that. I know I wasn't.

"We knew Arizona was going to come out and play some matchup zone. They didn't allow us to get the ball inside to Lonny, Chris and Tahj [Holden]. It definitely hurt us. and we have to work harder at the defensive end, point blank. We didn't play hard for 40 minutes."

Said Terps coach Gary Williams: "Arizona is good. They're a lot better than people think, but anytime we get outrebounded, and aren't patient enough to run our offense and get the ball inside, that's a problem.

"It seemed like every time we made a big play, they came back with a bigger play."

Perhaps none was bigger than Gardner's four-point play.

With the game tied at 61, Arizona had trouble getting the ball upcourt against Maryland's pressure and barely beat the 10-second count across midcourt. The ball swung to Gardner right in front of the Arizona bench and he hit a three-pointer as he was fouled by Baxter.

The Wildcats would not trail again as the Terps got within two points three times, the last at 69-67 on a rebound jumper by Wilcox with 4.6 seconds left.

"We didn't execute well." Baxter said. "We didn't hit the boards well, and it cost us. We got out worked by a younger team. That hurts."

Arizona, which trailed the Terps by as many as seven points in the first half, put together a 9-2 spurt late in the first half to take a 33-29 lead with 2:02 left , before Baxter awakened from a frustrating start to score on a pair of dunks to tie the game 33-33 at half time.

The Wildcats did not play with any of the fear one might expect from a squad featuring a handful of freshmen. Arizona got big boosts from freshman like centers Isaiah Fox and Channing Frye, who combined to limit Baxter on both ends of the floor.

Arizona also outworked Maryland on the boards and gave the Terps problems with a well-executed zone defense that kept the Terps from dumping the ball down low to Baxter. Only Dixon, who converted three three-pointers despite being limited to 11 first-half minutes because of foul trouble, put a dent in the Arizona zone early.

Maryland went nearly six minutes without a point from Baxter or Dixon to start the game. That gave Wilcox and Mouton a chance to step into the void, which they filled by pushing the Terps to an early 10-7 lead.

Wilcox got the call for only the second start of his career, and he gave Maryland an immediate lift by scoring their first four points, both on dunks that brought the partisan Maryland crowd to its feet.

After Dixon made his first basket on a three-pointer to give the Terps a 13-9 advantage with 14:12, the Wildcats switched to a 3-2 zone that slowed Maryland's half-court offense and put the clamps on Bax ter.

Gardner then turned up the heat on Terps point guard Steve Blake. He drove past him for a layup to pull Arizona within 17-13, then stole a pass from Blake at midcourt and drove for a layup to tie the game at 20 with 8:25 to go.

Holden's jump hook and a three-pointer by Dixon put Maryland in front 27-24. Gardner than sparked a 9-2 run with three con secutive baskets, the last a three-pointer that put the Wildcats on top 33-29.

Maryland shot 3-for-15 from three-point range in the half and needed Blake to keep them competitive on the boards. Blake led all players with eight rebounds in the half.

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