NORMAN, Okla. - The Maryland Terrapins played in their first hostile arena of the season last night, and the Oklahoma Sooners treated them appropriately.
Led by guard Ebi Ere and forward Aaron McGhee, the No. 22 Sooners handed No. 2 Maryland its first loss in nine games by shutting down the turnover-prone Terps in the second half and pulling away to a 72-56 victory before 12,715 at the Lloyd Noble Center.
Looking like a team playing its first true road game of the year following a 10-day layoff, the Terps were out of sync early and often, and took themselves out of the game by committing 21 turnovers. Maryland (8-2), which had its eight-game winning streak broken, managed a season-low 56 points by scoring only 22 points in the second half, its worst 20-minute showing of the season.
Oklahoma (9-1), playing for the fourth time in seven days, won its ninth consecutive game and was led by Ere's 19 points and 16 from McGhee. The Sooners dominated the boards in the second half, and finished by grabbing 44 rebounds to Maryland's 36.
Chris Wilcox led the Terps with 15 points and nine rebounds. Juan Dixon had 11 points. Lonny Baxter added nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds, although Baxter took only five shots, which symbolized how disjointed the Terps were at the offensive end.
"When you're playing on the road, you've got to do a lot of things right against a ranked team," coach Gary Williams said. "We didn't do enough things right tonight to win the game."
Maryland, which had trouble matching up with the athletic Sooners at times, also missed a slew of open shots. The Terps converted only nine of 28 attempts from the floor in the second half. Maryland also missed 16 of 19 three-point attempts.
Dixon scored only two points in the second half, and went scoreless after making a basket to tie the score at 38 with 19:20 left in the game.
"It was a nightmare out there," Baxter said. "We had plenty of open shots and they didn't go in, but we got out-worked and out-rebounded, and [Oklahoma] took us out of our offense. They used everybody, and everybody gave a great effort."
What the Sooners lacked in precision - Oklahoma shot a mediocre 40.3 percent - it made up for in energy and desire.
In the second half, it assaulted Maryland on the glass by making a series of put-backs that deflated the Terps. Sophomore center Jabahri Brown (eight points) did not score in the second half, but he grabbed eight of his game-high 14 rebounds after halftime. McGhee finished with 11 rebounds. Oklahoma out-rebounded Maryland 26-14 after the break.
"The second half was a joke. They out-rebounded us by 12," Williams said. "Our perimeter people didn't shoot well tonight, but give Oklahoma credit for their defense. We had to figure out how to get the ball inside tonight. We had guys going one-on-one. We got out of our offense. We've got some things to work on."
The Sooners found plenty of offense down the stretch. After Terps forward Byron Mouton (eight points) turned a steal into a layup to cut Oklahoma's lead to 52-49 with 7:17 left, the Sooners responded with a knockout blow in the form of a 20-7, game-ending run.
The Sooners, who entered the contest as the nation's fifth-best free-throw shooting team (78 percent), protected their lead in crunch time by making eight of their last 11 attempts.
The night started with a bad omen for Maryland when junior forward Tahj Holden slammed the back of his head to the court in the opening minute while fighting for a loose ball. Holden contributed only two points, one rebound and one assist in 16 minutes.
Maryland seemed shellshocked at times in the raucous setting. And their 10-day layoff for final exams left them looking rusty. The crisp passing and hustle that marked their winning streak were nowhere to be found, after the Sooners put together a 15-9 run to end the first half and took a 36-34 lead into the break.
"I think that affected us a little bit. But we didn't rebound, we didn't shoot, we didn't take care of the ball. That's our fault," said point guard Steve Blake, who shot 2-for-11 and finished with six points and six assists. "When you don't do all of those things, you can't expect to win."
The Sooners did all of those things, while getting huge lifts from Ere and McGhee in the second half. They combined to outscore the Terps by producing 23 points over the final 20 minutes.
"We sent a message to everyone in America that Oklahoma has a great basketball team," Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson said. "We had a good game plan tonight and we carried it out, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I also thought we played smart basketball. I really liked our intelligence in this game.
"We didn't just beat a good team tonight. We beat a great team."
Maryland Min FG FT Reb A F Pt
Mouton 26 4-11 0-0 4 0 2 8
Baxter 34 3-5 3-5 10 2 4 9
Dixon 34 5-12 1-1 3 1 1 11
Blake 36 2-11 0-0 4 6 3 6
Holden 16 1-4 0-0 1 1 3 2
Nicholas 24 1-6 2-2 1 3 2 5
Wilcox 30 6-8 3-4 9 1 2 15
Totals 200 22-57 9-12 32 14 17 56
Percentages: FG-.386, FT-.750. 3-point goals: 3-19, .158 (Mouton 0-2, Dixon 0-4, Blake 2-8, Holden 0-1, Nicholas 1-4). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 4 (Baxter 2, Mouton, Wilcox). Turnovers: 21 (Baxter 6, Blake 3, Dixon 3, Nicholas 3, Wilcox 3, Mouton 2, Holden). Steals: 7 (Mouton 4, Blake, Dixon, Nicholas).
Oklahoma Min FG FT Reb A F Pt
McGhee 25 5-15 6-9 11 2 4 16
Brown 30 4-5 0-0 14 2 1 8
Ere 36 6-16 4-4 7 2 2 19
White 34 2-4 3-7 0 6 0 7
Price 35 3-10 0-0 2 2 3 6
Detrick 14 3-10 0-0 5 0 0 6
Selvy 24 4-6 1-2 3 1 4 10
Szendrei 2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0
Totals 200 27-67 14-22 42 15 14 72
Percentages: FG-.403, FT-.636. 3-point goals: 4-19, .211 (McGhee 0-1, Ere 3-7, White 0-1, Price 0-6, Detrick 0-3, Selvy 1-1). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 1 (Ere). Turnovers: 11 (Brown 2, Ere 2, Selvy 2, White 2, Detrick, Price, Szendrei). Steals: 13 (Price 4, Selvy 3, Brown 2, Detrick, Ere, McGhee, White).
Maryland 34 22 - 56
Oklahoma 36 36 - 72
Technical fouls: None. A: 12,715. Officials:John Clougherty, Gerald Boudreaux, Ted Hillary.