Terps look to share load McLinton is shouldering Georgia Tech game offers 2nd chance

COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK -- Evers Burns said it best.

"Kevin is carrying this team right now and needs some help," the senior forward said after Maryland's 70-68 loss to Virginia on Thursday night at Cole Field House. "We've got to give him help."


Kevin McLinton, who after a slow start is having a phenomenal senior year, couldn't carry the struggling Terps past the equally struggling Cavaliers. He finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and no turnovers in 39 minutes.

McLinton had his chances to be the hero. But his foul-line jumper was blocked by Cory Alexander with 15 seconds to go and his desperation shot from half-court missed at the buzzer. The loss was the third straight for Maryland (10-8, 1-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference).


"It's the story of our season," said McLinton, who jammed a toe late in the game.

"We just can't seem to get over the hump."

Part of the story of Maryland's season is playing teams at bad times, often when they are desperately in search of a victory. The Terps faced Wake Forest after the Demon Deacons had lost their first two ACC games. They played Virginia after the Cavaliers had lost two straight, including one to Virginia Tech.

Today, Maryland plays at No. 22 Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are coming off an 83-80 upset loss to visiting Clemson. Maryland's loss kept the Terps tied for last place in the ACC with North Carolina State, and Clemson jumped to seventh. Georgia Tech (11-6, 4-4) has lost two straight.

"I wish they would have won and not played particularly well," Williams said yesterday of the Yellow Jackets, who have lost three games at home this year. "Now [coach Bobby] Cremins has their attention."

Said Cremins: "We needed this one [the Clemson game]. But we've got a very important game Saturday. We're .500 in the ACC. Maryland will be tough. Right now I'm worried about the confidence of this team."

Based on recent and past performance, he shouldn't worry too much. The Terps haven't fared well at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in the best of years. Maryland has won at the so-called "Thrillerdome" only twice, in the first two years after Georgia Tech joined the ACC for the 1979-80 season. Since Williams become coach, the Terps have won once in seven games.

Georgia Tech won the first meeting between the schools this season, 85-75, in the ACC opener for both teams. In that game, the Yellow Jackets built a 17-point halftime lead. They led by 21 points before Maryland closed the gap to eight. Then the Yellow Jackets led by 19 before the Terps cut the lead to nine.


"We need to get off to a better start than we did [against Virginia]," said McLinton, referring to Maryland's early 12-point deficit.

And the Terps need to get McLinton some help, especially from Burns. While McLinton has flourished in ACC competition this season, averaging just under 20 points, Burns has fallen apart. Though he remains Maryland's leading scorer, Burns is averaging a little less than 15. He scored a season-low 11 against the Cavaliers.

"I had three or four shots at the end of [the Virginia] game that I should have made," Burns said. "When my shots are not going in, I let it affect the other parts of my game, and I shouldn't do that. I have to be a leader. Right now Kevin is stepping up. I'm not."

Right now, Maryland needs all the help it can get.