Terps hold off Fla. State

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Maryland Terrapins have won a lot of different ways this season. With bursts of defensive brilliance. With streaks of unconscious shooting. They found another way to win last night against Florida State.

The ninth-ranked Terps won ugly.


Despite letting the Seminoles and their boisterous crowd at the Tallahassee-Leon Civic Center get back into the game after building a 12-point lead early in the second half, Maryland pulled away in the final two minutes to prevail, 70-57.

It was the second straight win here and third for the Terps on Florida State's home court since the Seminoles joined the Atlantic Coast Conference four years ago. And, like the previous two, it didn't come easily.


Maryland (12-3, 2-1) needed some big plays from sophomore All-American Joe Smith and junior guard Johnny Rhodes to hold off the Seminoles. The Terps also needed a run of seven straight points after Florida State (6-5, 0-3) had closed within five, 60-55, with 1:38 to play.

"Last year we won some big games with our defense and by getting baskets in transition, but this year we're trying to run a good half-court offense and play good half-court defense," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "I think tonight showed our guys what happens when they can execute."

Especially when they get the ball to Smith. After being bottled up inside by three Florida State centers, and getting a few of his shots counted among freshman Corey Louis' school-record-tying nine rejections, Smith simply stepped outside.

With his team's lead cut to six, 50-44, Smith hit a 19-footer from the top of the key with 6:25 to go. A layup by Florida State All-American Bob Sura cut the Maryland lead back to six, but Smith answered with a 12-foot baseline turnaround. With the Terps ahead 58-53, Smith went back inside, posting up -- and fouling out -- Louis on a layup with 1:48 to play.

"That shot [the 19-footer] was a set play in our offense," said Smith, who finished with a team-high 18 points and a season-high 18 rebounds, two off his career best set last season against the Seminoles. "I think it showed that we could execute against them, and after that things worked a lot better."

Smith wasn't the only Maryland player to hit big shots last night. Rhodes continued his run of consistency, finishing with 16 points to reach 1,000 for his career. Junior forward Exree Hipp, despite turningboth ankles, added 14 points and seven rebounds while playing tough defense on Sura.

Sura, a first-team All-ACC player last season and the league's second-leading scorer this year, was hounded by Hipp into a 5-for-17 night. The 6-5 guard finished with 13 points, eight below his average. Sophomore guard James Collins led the Seminoles with 18, but hit only eight of 23 shots.

"I think their perimeter defense was solid," said Florida State coach Pat Kennedy, whose young team made just 22 of 75 shots from the field, including five of a season-high 34 three-point tries. "Bob had a great four-game stretch coming in shoot ing the ball. Tonight he didn't."


Said Hipp, who took over where Rhodes left off last year against Sura, "He was trying to run me into screens, but I was able to get around them. From all the running we did at the offensive end, I think it tired him out a little bit."

It might have tired out Sura, but it didn't seem to have any effect on Collins at Florida State's offensive end or Louis on defense. Collins made a couple of spectacular shots during an 11-3 run to bring the Seminoles twice to within four, but none more jaw-dropping than a flying, one-handed slam over Smith to cut Maryland's lead to 48-44.

"In the last two games, I've seen two of the greatest dunks I've ever seen in college basketball," said Williams, referring to the one by Collins and the windup windmill job North Carolina's Jerry Stackhouse threw down Saturday night.

This time, the Terps didn't let the dunk, or the crowd, or the Seminoles get to them. After missing five of six free throws at one point, they made eight of their last 10 in the final 71 seconds.

"We knew they were going to make a run, but once we withstood it, the crowd quieted down," said Rhodes, who silenced the crowd for good with a rare dunk to push Maryland's lead back to 11 with 36.6 seconds to play. "I think we showed a lot of experience the way we played."

They also showed something else.


They could win ugly.

* NOTES: Sophmore forward Booth scored a season-low five points on 1-for-8 shooting.... The Seminoles had 14 blocks, the most of any team against Maryland this season. Massachusetts had 13 against the Terps last month.... Maryland plays next at home Saturday against 14th-ranked Wake Forest.