UM cruises by UMES, 87-38

In their final tuneup before ACC stretch, Terps take fight out of Hawks

College Basketball

January 07, 2004|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland's final tuneup before the serious portion of the Atlantic Coast Conference season resulted in another blowout of a local rival last night at Comcast Center.

After slogging through a rather uninspired first half, the Terrapins dominated the early portion of the second half and rolled to an 87-38 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore before 17,950.

A 21-3 run, sparked by freshman Mike Jones, ended the suspense as Maryland beat its in-state relative for the 15th time.

UMES has never beaten the Terps.

The Fighting Hawks, who had played at home the previous night, controlled the flow early but ran out of gas in the second half during their third game in four days.

UMES presented no threat to Maryland (9-3), which has a week off before testing No. 12 North Carolina at Comcast Center.

Maryland has a 99-1 record against nonconference foes at home since Dec. 30, 1989. The loss was to Florida in December 2002.

Terps coach Gary Williams was not overly pleased with his team, especially early, but he lauded the upgraded aggressiveness of Jones, a heralded high school scorer at Thayer Academy in Massachusetts.

Jones finished with a career-high 25 points to lead the Terps against UMES, which has started 0-8 for the second straight season.

"He is making more of an effort on the defensive end," Williams said of Jones. "He's really trying to stop his man. So, that aggressiveness comes through on the other end.

"I really like to see him go to the free-throw line because he is a good free-throw shooter, and I think he gets more open shots when he takes the ball to the basket."

Jones played a portion of the game at point guard, although he is known as a shooting guard.

"Everything starts in practice and carries over," Jones said. "It definitely helps your confidence if you get in there early. You get a rhythm, and you get comfortable. It's what happens with any athlete."

UMES fell behind 9-0 and 17-2 at the beginning of the game but plugged away despite the shooting woes of guards Tee Trotter and Aaron Wellington, the team's leading scorers.

At the half, Maryland led 30-19.

"We tried to get our guards to make some baskets, but both have been struggling for some time," said UMES coach Thomas Trotter. "They're just really cold. When you're a young team, you don't see the ball falling, and your defense falters."

UMES was 2-for-20 from three-point range.

Tony Pruitt led the Hawks with 10 points, their only player in double figures. Pruitt scored eight of his points in the first half.

"We don't really get a lot of support at home, but it felt great to see people travel to see us play," Pruitt said. "This is like an NBA arena."

Senior Jamar Smith had 13 points and nine rebounds for Maryland.

Guard D.J. Strawberry missed the game for Maryland after a collision with teammate Nik Caner-Medley on Saturday left him with turf toe.

"He could have played if we needed him," Williams said. "But this gives him an extra day, and he should be 100 percent [for practice] Thursday."

Ekene Ibekwe started for the first time for the Terps in place of Travis Garrison. He finished with seven points and seven rebounds.

"Whether I start or come off the bench doesn't matter," Ibekwe said. "I just want to come in and do my part to try to make as much of an impact as possible."

Next for Terps

Matchup: No. 12 North Carolina (8-2, 0-1) vs. Maryland (9-3, 0-1)

Site: Comcast Center, College Park

When: Next Wednesday, 9 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN/WBAL (1090 AM)

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