The second half

Duke rerun avoided, as UM holds on

Maryland 97 - Kansas 88

Final Four

March 31, 2002|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA - The ghosts of past disasters nearly overtook the Terps in the second half last night.

Leading 83-63 with 6:09 remaining, Maryland, which blew a 22-point lead against Duke in last year's Final Four, watched in horror as the Jayhawks cut the lead in half, and closed to nine points with 3:10 left.

Maryland, whose lead eventually dwindled to four, kept making stupid fouls and putting Kansas on the line.

A turnover by Juan Dixon and a reaching foul by Tahj Holden put Aaron Miles on the line. The freshman point guard had hit his last four free throws in the run, but made one of two to cut the Maryland lead to eight with a little under three minutes left.

The Terps seemed to be playing as if they were behind and trying to catch up. The monkey had become a monster on their backs, with thoughts of their first ever national championship game weighing them down. A free throw by Steve Blake made it an eight-point lead, but Jeff Boschee answered with a three.

Dixon missed a three - why he was attempting a three-pointer with the Terps up five is a good question - but Maryland got the ball back when Miles traveled. Finally, Dixon gave the Terps what they needed, a tough driving basket for a seven-point lead. Maryland got the ball back after Nick Collison was tied up.

With their fans standing, and Maryland coach Gary Williams sweating out the most important victory of his career, the Terps seemed to settle down. Blake was fouled by Miles, and he made the second of two free throws with 39 seconds left.

Finally, after Boschee hit another three to cut Maryland's lead to 90-85 with 27.3 seconds left, Dixon was fouled and hit both free throws. Gooden made another three to make it 92-88, but play suddenly stopped when Kansas called timeout.

A timeout that the Jayhawks didn't have.

In a scene reminiscent of the 1993 NCAA championship game between North Carolina and Michigan, when Chris Webber called a timeout that the Wolverines didn't have, the game was all but decided. This time, the goat was Boschee.

Half scoring

Maryland 53 Kansas 51

13-3

Points-off-the-bench advantage for Maryland

24-16

Points-in-the-paint advantage for Maryland

Big shot I

Steve Blake

Just as he did in the East Regional final victory over Connecticut, Blake hit a timely three-pointer. With Maryland leading 60-55, Blake's three, his first basket of the game, triggered a 23-8 run over the next 5:38 to give the Terps their biggest lead at 83-63.

Big shot II

Juan Dixon

With the Terps' 20-point lead sliced to five, Dixon hit a floater from the baseline to make it 89-82 and halt the Kansas run.

Quote

Juan Dixon

"I've been saying that the whole week. If we were in that position again [protecting a big lead in a Final Four game], we were going to find a way to pull the game out."

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