Mouton's `D' leads way to `W'

Terps senior clamps down on high-scoring Prince

March 23, 2002|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Tayshaun Prince led Kentucky in scoring last night, but he didn't inflict the kind of damage upon Maryland that he did on Tulsa in the Wildcats' second-round victory.

The willowy, 6-foot-10 senior wing nearly reached his average with 17 points at the Carrier Dome in an NCAA tournament East Regional semifinal, but he worked for every one and didn't come close to breaking loose for another 41-point outburst.

Thank you, Byron Mouton.

Given the similarities between Prince and Mike Dunleavy, there was speculation that Maryland coach Gary Williams might mark the Kentucky star with Chris Wilcox, who shut down the Duke junior at Cole Field House last month. Mouton got the Prince assignment, however. The senior performed it admirably, with some relief from Wilcox and Drew Nicholas, who handled his shift despite a 7-inch disadvantage.

"With Prince, he's going to get some looks," Williams said. "You go in with the mind-set that he's going to get some points, but the key is not to give him open looks. Byron and Chris, and Drew some, we really tried to help them off screens. The goal was to make Prince pass the ball back to the screener. We showed enough help on him, and that's why he wasn't open."

Prince, a four-year starter out of Compton, Calif., got just two points the final 13 minutes, and he was visibly fatigued down the stretch when he missed open jumpers and turned the ball over. Prince made just three of his nine shots in the second half, and he did not resemble the player who scored a career-high 41 points on 14-for-21 shooting against Tulsa in St. Louis.

"The main thing I wanted to do was be aggressive," Mouton said. "You've got to get him to make tough shots, you can't let him drive or post up without putting a body on him. I let him know I'm there. The main thing tonight was defense. Defense is what kept us in the game."

Mouton didn't help the Terps at just the defensive end. He had three baskets in the Terps' last three games and was coming off a sub-regional at MCI Center in which he contributed just four points, but he got back into the flow last night with a 14-point line that he has bettered just once in Maryland's past six games. His 5-for-9 shooting helped the Maryland front line to 15-for-28 marksmanship.

"Byron is our energy guy," senior guard Juan Dixon said. "He was a great addition last year. He doesn't have to score 15 or 20 points to have an impact."

Next for Terps

Opponent: Connecticut (27-6) in NCAA tournament East Regional final

Site: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.

When: Tomorrow, 5:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 13, 9/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line: Off

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