McCray's fire fuels Terps in key win

Sophomore rebounds from Duke struggles to score career-high 20

College Basketball

March 08, 2004|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Two weeks after he blew his cool in a desultory loss at Duke, Chris McCray fired up Maryland at both ends.

The sophomore shooting guard posted a career-high 20 points in last night's crucial win over Virginia. He collected five steals, the most he has ever had in an Atlantic Coast Conference game, and bore little resemblance to the player who came undone in Durham, N.C.

On Feb. 22 at Duke, McCray lost track of the shot clock, and didn't react well when coach Gary Williams berated him for the mistake. McCray talked back, and didn't return to that game.

"I was frustrated with my play and Coach was frustrated with my play," McCray said of being in Williams' doghouse. "He told me I needed to do more."

A starter in Maryland's first 23 games, McCray came off the bench against Clemson and Wake Forest, but provided the Terps with some instant offense in both as he scored a then-career high 18 against the Demon Deacons. He returned to the starting lineup in a rejuvenating win at N.C. State, and showed a resourcefulness against a Cavalier team that designed its defense to stop John Gilchrist last night.

McCray blended into the scenery in the first half at the Comcast Center, but exploded for 15 points in the second. He had five field goals in that half, and several were the product of defensive hustle. During a critical 14-2 run midway through the second half, McCray had eight points.

He started that with a steal and a reverse dunk.

"I asked him if he got three points for the reverse dunk," Williams said. "He made it as hard as he could."

"I knew I was by myself," McCray said. "I didn't want to do a regular dunk."

Two minutes later, a strip by D.J. Strawberry was turned into another breakaway basket for McCray. He ended that run with two jump shots near the free-throw line as he curled off a screen on the first, then pulled up off his own dribble for a 52-44 lead with 7:30 left. In the final 2:16, McCray hit all four of his free-throw attempts.

That's how easy life was for McCray at Fairmont Heights High in Prince George's County, but he's had to increase his work rate to survive in the ACC.

"Chris is one of those players who was laid back in high school," Williams said. "He could always get shots off when he wanted to, but that doesn't work at this level. It takes a different level of energy. Since the Duke game, Chris has really turned on the energy. He's a different player."

ACC standings

Conf. Overall

Team W L Pct. W L Pct.

Duke 13 3 .813 25 4 .862

N.C. State 11 5 .688 19 8 .704

Wake Forest 9 7 .563 19 8 .704

Georgia Tech 9 7 .563 22 8 .733

North Carolina 8 8 .500 18 9 .667

Maryland 7 9 .438 16 11 .593

Florida State 6 10 .375 18 12 .600

Virginia 6 10 .375 16 11 .593

Clemson 3 13 .188 10 17 .370

Yesterday's result

Maryland 70, Virginia 61 (End of regular season)

Saturday's results

N.C. State 81, Wake Forest 70 Georgia Tech 63, Florida State 60 Duke 70, North Carolina 65

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