CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The Maryland basketball team made a lot of folks here anxious last night. A sellout crowd at the Dean E. Smith Center, and the man for whom the building is named. The current Tar Heels, and the greatest North Carolina player of them all.
But in the end, the seventh-ranked Terrapins couldn't rattle the nation's lame-duck No. 1 team quite enough, or overcome foul trouble to sophomores Joe Smith and Keith Booth. After cutting an 11-point deficit early in the second half to two, then staying close for a while, Maryland succumbed, 100-90.
Taking advantage of Smith's foul trouble, Carolina's sophomore center Rasheed Wallace scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half to go along with nine rebounds and five blocked shots. Sophomore forward Jerry Stackhouse, whose performance was reminiscent of Michael Jordan, finished with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds.
After losing its Atlantic Coast Conference last week at North Carolina State, the victory helped North Carolina (10-1, 1-1) avert its first 0-2 start in the league since 1979-80. The defeat broke a five-game winning streak for Maryland (11-3, 1-1).
Junior Johnny Rhodes led the Terps with 21 points, including 15 in the first half, and kept Maryland in the game despite Smith playing only 20 minutes because of foul trouble. Smith sat out the last 5:33 of the first half and more than eight minutes in the second half. The 6-foot-10 All-American still finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
"I thought we played hard," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, whose team lost to the Tar Heels for the sixth straight time and the ninth time in 10 games. "We didn't handle some situations as well as I would've liked to. But I stop and think sometimes, we still basically don't play any seniors. We're getting there, but we still have room for improvement."
After a pair of free throws by Smith cut Maryland's deficit to 81-75, a jumper by senior guard Donald Williams and a three-point play by Stackhouse off a miss by Mario Lucas helped put the game away for the Tar Heels. Williams, the MVP of the 1993 Final Four, finished with 19.
All five North Carolina starters scored in double figures, including Dante Calabria, who returned from missing the N.C. State game with a sprained ankle to finish with 12 points. The Tar Heels helped keep things interesting themselves, missing 20 of 50 free throws.
"In many ways it was a strange basketball game between two very good basketball teams," said Dean Smith, whose Tar Heels likely will drop a couple of spots in this week's AP poll -- as will the Terps. "I was very impressed with Maryland early, they looked so good at both ends of the floor. The difference may have simply been that we had the home-court advantage."
The Tar Heels also might have had a secret motivational weapon: the presence of the legendary Jordan, who watched his first game in this building since leaving here 11 years ago. Smith invited his former star to practice Friday, where a couple of the current Tar Heels wound up playing him one-on-one.
Asked if Jordan's visit helped, Stackhouse said: "We were motivated enough after losing to State, and we just wanted to take our frustrations out on Maryland. It was fun to have Michael here, but we would have been motivated no matter who it was."
Despite the Tar Heels' motivation, they had a hard time shaking the Terps. Trailing 23-16 after a lob layup by Maryland's Exree Hipp (16 points), North Carolina scored on eight of its next 10 possessions to take a 34-29 lead and force Smith to the bench with his third personal.
But the Terps hung in there, climbing back to tie the game on a drive by Lucas with 2:55 left.
Trailing at halftime, 47-40, Maryland fell behind by 11, 55-44, on a layup by Wallace with 17:51 to go. Despite Smith leaving the game again with his fourth foul less than a minute later -- and not returning for more than 7 1/2 minutes -- the Terps were still in the game.
"That's the first we faced this kind of adversity all season," Williams said of Smith's foul troubles.
"If you have to go through it, let it be your first game in the league on the road. We now know we can play without Joe if we have to."
Rhodes and reserve guard Wayne Bristol kept Maryland within striking distance. Two straight baskets by Bristol, including a three-pointer, pulled the Terps within 69-67. The Tar Heels reeled off eight straight to go up 77-67, shortly after Smith returned, but saw their lead cut to four, 77-73, on a steal and layup by Rhodes with 6:22 to go.
Following another Maryland steal, Rhodes had a chance to pull the Terps to within one. But his three-point shot spun in and out -- "It was halfway down," Williams said -- and Stackhouse scored two key free throws on his team's next possession. Key because the Tar Heels wound up with two shots at the basket. Wallace was fouled on the first shot, but missed both free throws. The Tar Heels rebounded, though, and Booth (15 points) fouled Stackhouse for his fifth with 5:02 to play.
"We were OK until Keith got his fifth," said Williams.
It was then, and only then, that North Carolina's crowd, coach, team and the legend in the private box could relax.
NOTES: Williams picked up a technical with 2:06 left in the game. . . . The Terps went home after last night's game and will play at Florida State on Tuesday.
UMBC 60, Liberty 57
N.C. A&T; 61, Coppin State 59
Radford 71, Towson State 68
S.C. State 83, Morgan State 61
Delaware 86, Loyola 70
Bucknell 73, Navy 63
UCLA 87, Oregon St. 78
Arkansas 97, Tennessee 79
UMass 87, La Salle 64
Georgia Tech 75, Duke 68
Georgetown 71, Miami 64
Michigan St. 69, Iowa 68
Colorado 71, Iowa State 57
Wake Forest 72, Florida St. 64
Missouri 82, Nebraska 74