Terps pounded by Duke Hurley gets assist mark


DURHAM, N.C. -- A year ago, Kevin McLinton nearly led the University of Maryland basketball team to what would have been the biggest upset of the season. But McLinton and the Terrapins left Cameron Indoor Stadium with a good feeling despite an agonizing two-point defeat to top-ranked Duke.

Last night, McLinton came close to equaling his 25-point, 11-assist performance against the Blue Devils. But Maryland didn't. The Terps buried themselves with their largest halftime deficit of the season and lost to sixth-ranked Duke, 95-79, before a typically raucous sellout crowd of 9,314.

On a night when Blue Devils guard Bobby Hurley made history -- becoming college basketball's all-time assist leader, passing former North Carolina State point guard Chris Corchiani -- the misery continued for Maryland (11-14, 2-13).

The defeat, their 13th straight to Duke (23-5, 10-5), virtually guaranteed the Terps of their second straight losing season. And, short of winning next week's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, it also wiped away any chance of a postseason bid.

"I am disappointed with the effort in the first half," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who has never endured back-to-back losing seasons in his 15-year coaching career. "I think we played well in the second half, but it's easier to play well when you're down 20 than when it's still a ballgame."

It wasn't a game for very long. Trailing 14-10, the Terps watched the Blue Devils roll to a 29-14 lead in a stretch that included Hurley's record-breaking assist (on a lob to sophomore center Erik Meek) and the first three of his team-high 19 points.

The victory, the fourth straight for the Blue Devils, was overshadowed by Hurley's history-making performance. Needing five assists to break the record held by Corchiani, Hurley got 12. He now has 1,046, eight more than Corchiani. Last night's game ball is on its way to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

"It makes me feel good to do something that nobody has done before," said Hurley, who along with fellow senior Thomas Hill was honored before the game and then thanked the crowd afterward. "Hopefully I'll get a few more this year so I'll make it hard for somebody to catch me. It really shows how fortunate I am to play with so many great players over the last four years."

McLinton finished with 22 points and 11 assists for Maryland and Johnny Rhodes scored 19, but the backcourt got little help from the frontcourt. They combined for 21 of Maryland's 29 first-half points, and the Terps trailed by 24 at halftime.

It was another poor start for Maryland, something that had hurt the Terps earlier in the season. Aside from an inability to score -- including a dismal five of 17 from the foul line -- Maryland couldn't stop Duke, especially inside. Sophomore center Cherokee Parks had 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks and junior forward Antonio Lang had 17 points and nine rebounds.

"I thought they outworked us the first half," said freshman forward Exree Hipp, who got into early foul trouble. "They came out with fire in their eyes. They wanted to win the last home game for the seniors and everyone wanted to get Bobby Hurley the record. We weren't as emotionally ready as they were."

Said Williams, "I hope our young guys learned from the effort it takes to play the sixth-ranked team in the country."

It will take an effort for Maryland not to give up on the rest of the season. The Terps finish out the regular season Saturday at Virginia and will play N.C. State -- their last-place co-habitants in the ACC -- in the ACC Tournament's preliminary game at the Charlotte Coliseum a week from tonight.

"We've got to regroup and get ready for Virginia," said McLinton, who took a couple of stitches in the lip after colliding with Hill. "We still can win the ACC tournament. Crazier things have happened. I know luck will be on our side in the tournament because it hasn't been during the regular season."

NOTES: Rhodes didn't start for the first time this season after being late to a team meeting yesterday, but he had highest point total since scoring 21 against Wake Forest Jan. 16. . . . Grant Hill sat out with a sprained toe. . . . Hurley has 58 assists and only 12 turnovers in the past four games. . . . Duke finishes out the regular season Sunday at top-ranked North Carolina.

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