Terps tar Heels, 112-79

No. 4 UM unleashes most points ever on young Carolina team

Blake: 'Who are those guys?'

Dixon's 29 points lead assault: Heels are 5-7 for first time since '50

January 10, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - The North Carolina Tar Heels limped into soldout Cole Field House last night, looking like a wounded team missing Its sterling tradition and ripe for a knockout.

The Maryland Terrapins, feeling their superiority in size and athleticism from the outset, started punching early and never stopped until they had administered the worst-ever beating of their nemesis from Chapel Hill.

To the utter delight of a roaring home crowd, fourth-ranked Maryland ran rough-shod over the helpless Tar Heels and drove another nail into Carolina's nightmarish season with a 112-79 rout.

Senior guard Juan Dixon scored 20 of his season-high 29 points in the first half, senior center Lonny Baxter returned after missing a game with a sprained right ankle to record the 1,500th point of his career, point guard Steve Blake just missed recording a triple double, and four Terps finished by scoring in double figures.

While scoring the most points any opponent, has ever dropped on Carolina, the Terps shot at a blistering rate, shoved around the smaller and less athletic Tar Heels on the boards, stole the ball at will and sent Carolina to another dreary defeat.

"Who are those guys? They're just another team. North Carolina is nothing special," said Blake, who overmatched Carolina point guards Andre Boone and Melvin Scott while recording 12 points and nine rebounds and a career-high 14 assists.

Carolina, with all its ACC tradition, is off to its first 5-7 start since the 1950-51 team under coach Tom Scott. The Tar Heels suffered their worst ACC loss in nearly 37 years.

It got so ugly that Maryland coach Gary Williams was clearing the bench with just under 10 minutes to go, not long after the Terps (12-2, 2-0) had extended their lead beyond 30 points.

"That's crazy," Dixon said. "It was different tonight. In the past, it would have been a tougher 40 minutes against those guys. Those guys are young. We've been trying to get to the level of Duke and Carolina in the ACC for a long time."

The Terps needed little time to establish their dominance. Maryland came out 7 with a hot shooting hand, preyed on Carolina's un-steady bail-handlers and immediately began pounding the Tar Heels on the boards, while taking an 11-4 lead three minutes into the contest.

Byron Mouton completed the opening run with a put-back and slam, which happened after Blake stole the ball from Boone and fed Mouton. Dixon, who hit his first three-point attempt to stir the sellout crowd in the early going, followed Mouton by sinking a three from the left wing and a 12-foot baseline jumper to give Maryland a 16-6 lead with 15:48 left in the first half.

By the time the Terps had extended their advantage to 17-8 on a free throw by Chris Wilcox, the Terps already had recorded six assists and made seven of 11 shots. But Maryland was still getting warmed up.

Dixon turned another steal into a layup, then made two free throws after Carolina coach Matt Doherty got hit with a technical foul. That gave the Terps a 21-8 lead with 15:01 left, and Dixon already had scored 12 points. After Wilcox made two free throws to make it 23-13, the Tar Heels botched back-to-back inbounds passes, resulting in an easy basket by Dixon.

Maryland's bench then came in to bury Carolina. After Jason Capel's three-pointer cut the Terps' lead to 28-16, Tahj Holden ignited a 15-2 run with a put-back. Drew Nicholas followed with a layup after a steal and feed by Wilcox. Blake then made a three-pointer, and backup center Ryan Randle converted a three-point play to make it 38-18 with 10:34 left.

Two minutes later, Mouton's steal and 10-footer put the Terps way in front, 43-18. The Tar Heels showed some life after that with a 19-8 run - sparked by Capel and Jawad Williams - to pull within 51-37 with 2:41 to go. But Maryland scored the final six points of the half, as Wilcox made a jump hook and blocked three shots, the last of which led to a Mouton slam to end the half.

Blake and Mouton promptly made three-pointers to get the Terps off to an 8-0 run at the start of the second half, and Carolina was cooked. The 112 points was two more than North Carolina allowed against Kentucky in 1989 and Florida State in 1992.

"I thought our defense keyed everything tonight," said Williams, who watched the Terps pressure Carolina into 25 turnovers and score 31 points off turnovers. "We were able to get the tempo that we wanted. When you work really" hard defensively, things open up offensively. We have a veteran team and [Carolina] are struggling with some young guys."

"It's hard to imagine there are better teams than Maryland," Doherty said. "When they are clicking on all cylinders, I don't know if anybody can beat them."

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