Feb 13, 2002
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Lonny Baxter had 22 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday night as Maryland soared to new heights with an 85-65 thumping of the Yellow Jackets.
The Terrapins (20-3, 10-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) never before won 10 of their first 11 league games. Maryland moved into a tie atop the conference standings with Duke, which invades Cole Field House on Sunday.
“It would be a great win because they’re ranked No. 1, but you can only prepare so hard,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said.
It was easy for the Terrapins to avoid looking ahead to the Blue Devils, given that Maryland had to struggle to beat Georgia Tech 92-87 last month.
But the Terrapins dominated the rematch, rapidly expanding a six-point halftime lead to double digits before coasting over the final 15 minutes.
“We knew we had to play Georgia Tech first,” Baxter said. “We took care of business tonight, and now we can move on.”
Maryland, which last won the ACC regular season title in 1980, has reeled off seven straight wins since losing at Duke 99-78 last month.
“I think we’ll play better. I think we’ll shoot the ball a lot better,” Maryland guard Juan Dixon said. “I think we’ll take care of the ball, and I think we’ll definitely play better on defense.”
The Terrapins did almost everything right in beating the Yellow Jackets for an eighth straight time at home. Chris Wilcox had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Dixon, despite missing all nine of his 3-point attempts, scored 14.
Asked to pick a winner of Sunday’s game, Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said diplomatically, “Those are two very, very good teams. Both are certainly capable of winning it all.”
Against the Terrapins, the Yellow Jackets were outrebounded 53-34 and yielded 22 offensive rebounds.
“We got beat by a strong, physical team tonight,” Hewitt said. “You give up 22 offensive rebounds, it’s tough to beat anybody, especially a team the caliber of Maryland.”
Said Williams: “Part of defense is rebounding, and I was pleased with the way we went after the glass tonight.”
A dunk by Baxter, a 3-pointer by Steve Blake and a foul shot by Wilcox gave the Terrapins a 50-40 lead early in the second half
Muhammad scored five straight points to halve the deficit before Maryland pulled away, getting four points from Wilcox in a 10-1 spurt that made it 60-46 with 13:56 to go.
The margin swelled to 21 with 4:45 left.
The first half featured eight lead changes before the Terrapins took the lead for good.
Maryland trailed 22-21 before scoring eight straight points while the Yellow Jackets committed four turnovers in five possessions. Wilcox had four points in the surge and Dixon made a layup off an inbounds pass from under the basket.
Baxter scored 15 points and Wilcox had nine points and seven rebounds to help Maryland take a 44-38 halftime lead. Lewis kept Georgia Tech close with 12 points, but he was scoreless in the second half until making a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
There were six lead changes in the opening eight minutes before Baxter made a layup to start an 8-1 run that put the Terrapins up 20-15. Clarence Moore and Lewis responded with 3-pointers to put the Yellow Jackets ahead for the last time.