Terps try to patch wounds vs. Duke

Latest loss part of trend toward big win, then flop

College Basketball

January 19, 2004|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - With another scoring drought, another turnover binge, another defensive breakdown and another Atlantic Coast Conference road loss behind them, the Maryland Terrapins have no choice but to focus on repairing their psyches by making history.

In the blur of challenges that comprises life in the ACC, the best way for Maryland (10-4, 1-2) to recover from Saturday's 81-71 flop at No. 12 Georgia Tech is to take down archrival Duke at Comcast Center on Wednesday.

What a way to make the world right after a bad night in Atlanta. And a victory over the Blue Devils would mark a unique turn in the road for the Maryland program.

A win would be Maryland's fourth over a top 15 opponent this season - but it would mean more than just that.

Because No. 2 Duke is expected to be named the nation's top-ranked team today - the Blue Devils beat fourth-ranked Wake Forest on Saturday, just before No. 9 North Carolina knocked off No. 1 Connecticut - Maryland could dethrone two No. 1 teams in the same season for the first time ever by beating the Blue Devils for the third straight year in College Park.

With a win Wednesday, the Terps, who downed then-No. 1 Florida in Gainesville Dec. 10, also would record their 10th victory over a top-ranked team. That would tie North Carolina for most wins over a No. 1 opponent in NCAA history.

"Everybody is going to feel ready to knock off the No. 1 team," Maryland sophomore point guard John Gilchrist said. "The atmosphere [at Comcast Center] is going to be at another level. We've got to keep our level up and keep going.

"It's a great feeling to be the giant-killer, but we need to start being giants ourselves and stop playing the role of David. We've got to take them down every time. I feel we have a great opportunity. We get up for the big games."

Other than Gilchrist, who scored a career-high 27 points and was the lone Terp in double figures, it seemed few others got up for the Yellow Jackets, who beat Maryland for the fourth time in five tries at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and rendered the Terps 0-2 in league road games.

The game also continued a disturbing Maryland trend. The Terps, who shot 36.2 percent, committed 19 turnovers and were outscored, 28-16, over the final 9:43 in Atlanta, have yet to string together back-to-back strong efforts against top-flight competition.

After beating then-No. 15 Wisconsin at home on Dec. 2, Maryland lost to then-No. 17 Gonzaga and was swept in the BB&T Classic for the first time. After knocking off Florida, the Terps lost their ACC opener at Florida State. After defeating North Carolina at home on Wednesday, Maryland fell to Tech.

In their three ACC games, Maryland has recorded just 34 assists while committing 65 turnovers. The Terps went without a basket for 6:48 down the stretch at Tech, turning the ball over on four of five possessions after taking their last lead at 55-53 with 9:43 left. They also allowed the Yellow Jackets several uncontested layups out of their half-court offense.

"I have nothing good to say about that," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "You can make defensive mistakes, but you can't let guys just go to the rim. I didn't like our shot selection. I didn't like much about our offense."

"We've had three great [wins] for us this year - Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina. But the next time out, we haven't played particularly well. I'm not real happy about that."

Next for Terps

Matchup: No. 2 Duke (14-1, 4-0) vs. Maryland (10-4, 1-2)

Site: Comcast Center, College Park

When: Wednesday, 9 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN/WBAL (1090 AM)

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