LAHAINA, HAWAII — LAHAINA, Hawaii -- What started out as a contrast of styles between teams in last night's second semifinal of the Maui Invitational wound up as a showcase of two of college basketball's best sophomores.
What started out as a battle between Maryland's high-velocity full-court game and Utah's more physical half-court game ended up being overwhelmed by a couple of superb performances by Joe Smith and Keith Van Horn.
Smith wound up winning on both counts at the Civic Center. The 6-foot-10 All-American tied his career high with 33 points, five more than the 6-10 Van Horn, as the seventh-ranked Terrapins beat the upstart Utes, 90-78, to move into today's final against Arizona State. The Sun Devils had upset 13th-ranked Michigan, 79-62, in the first semifinal last night.
With the two players canceling out each other on the offensive end, the difference for Maryland (2-0) was the play of Smith's supporting cast. Junior guard Duane Simpkins also tied his career high, finishing with 20 points, and junior forward Exree Hipp, celebrating his 21st birthday, scored 15 to go along with a career-high nine assists.
"That's what we need to be successful," said Smith, who hit 12 of 18 shots from the field, including a three-pointer, to go along with 10 rebounds, four blocks and two steals. "Our bench did a lot for us, too. Five guys don't play 40 minutes for us to win."
For the second straight night, reserves Mario Lucas and Wayne Bristol helped the Terps, especially at the offensive end. Each played 19 minutes, scored seven points and shot three of four from the field. Bristol also hit a key three-point shot in the second half to help keep Utah (1-1) at bay.
It also helped Maryland that Van Horn was not on the floor for the final 4:20. Van Horn, who was Freshman of the Year in the Western Athletic Conference last year, fouled out after grabbing Smith as they went for a rebound, moments after Smith had blocked Van Horn's 18-foot jumper.
"I think they were in control by then, but obviously it's that much tougher with Keith out," said Utah coach Rick Majerus, whose team had upset No. 11 Indiana in Monday's opening round. "But the fouls weren't why they beat us. They're a better team. They're athletic, they're well-coached, they're very talented. They're awfully good."
It was Van Horn's absence late in the first half that enabled Maryland to take a comfortable nine-point lead, 50-41, at halftime. And it was Simpkins, with Smith on the bench nursing a couple of fouls, who took over the game, scoring eight points in a span of 3:27.
"I just kind of took what they gave me," said Simpkins, who made a sparkling three-point play at the end of the half. "I stepped up and took it."
The Utes took a couple of shots at Maryland in the second half. After Smith scored on a breakaway dunk to put the Terps ahead by 11, Utah cut its deficit to four three times, the last time on a drive by Brandon Jessie (19) with 9:04 to play.
But Smith and Simpkins steadied Maryland. When Van Horn fouled out, they merely iced the game at the free-throw line. Smith hit four to push the lead to 10 and Simpkins hit four straight free throws himself to build the lead to 14. The Terps were 31 of 44 from the line last night.
"Joe did a great job offensively, but he also did a great job on defense," said Williams. "He changed a lot of shots. And Duane gave really good support helping with their big guys."
The difference between Smith and Van Horn is at the defensive end. Smith has proven he can dominate even without scoring, while Van Horn has yet to show Majerus he is anything but a defensive liability.
"I keep telling him that the game is played at both ends," said Majerus.
After coming here expecting to play Indiana and possibly Michigan, Maryland will wind up facing neither. Instead, the Terps will match up against another upstart team, Arizona State, with Mario Bennett. The 6-9, 225-pound junior has hit 21 of 24 shots in victories here over Tulane and Michigan.
"We thought Utah was a quality team even before they beat Indiana," said Williams. "I don't know that much about Arizona State, but obviously they're very good. At this point in the season, you can throw out the rankings and just play."
NOTES: Williams is looking to win his second Hawaiian tournament in as many tries since coming to Maryland. The Terps won the Chaminade Christmas Classic in 1989. . . . Keith Booth, who had his hands full guarding Van Horn, failed to score a field goal (0-for-2) for only the second time as a Terp. The first time was in the regular-season meeting with Massachusetts last year. . . . Junior guard Johnny Rhodes, hampered by fouls most of the night, scored only two points.