Terps put Wake to sleep, 76-66

COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland basketball team did a few things yesterday that haven't been done against Wake Forest in a while. The Terrapins shot better than 50 percent. They kept All-America guard Randolph Childress off the free-throw line.

And, most significantly, they won.


A 76-66 victory for ninth-ranked Maryland over the 14th-ranked Demon Deacons before a sellout crowd of 14,500 at steamy Cole Field House stopped the Atlantic Coast Conference's hottest team in its tracks.

The victory not only ended a seven-game winning streak for Wake Forest (9-2, 2-1 ACC), but gave Maryland (13-3, 2-1) its best start in 11 years. The 1983-84 team had the same record en route to a 24-8 season, which included an ACC tournament championship.


"Our guys have the ability to dig down," Maryland coach Gary Williams said after moving within one of 300 victories for his career. "It doesn't have to be one guy. It doesn't have to just be Joe Smith for us to be a good team."

While their All-America sophomore center helped the Terps jump out quickly, their other players helped keep the Demon Deacons from taking away the lead or the momentum.

Smith finished with 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting to go along with nine rebounds, but junior guards Johnny Rhodes and Duane Simpkins each contributed 17 points. All of Simpkins' points came in the second half.

"When they started double-teaming me, our guards kept knocking down their shots," said Smith, who asserted himself early by hitting the same kind of outside shots he made late in Tuesday's win at Florida State. "When they do that, we're a pretty tough team."

Said Wake Forest coach Dave Odom: "Maryland is a very difficult team to defend on the inside and outside at the same time. Show me a team that can do that and I'll show you UMass, and they won [against Maryland]."

The Terps, the ACC's leader in field-goal percentage and one of the top shooting teams in the nation, hit eight of their first 12 shots and nine of their first 15. It helped them build an 11-point lead, 20-9, the last two points coming on a highlight-show, one-handed dunk off a drive in traffic by Rhodes with 9:34 left in the first half.

Maryland wound up 29-for-54 from the field, including five of 12 on three-point attempts, to become the first team this season to shoot over 50 percent against the Demon Deacons, who had held each opponent under 40 percent during their recent winning streak.

"This is the first time [in the ACC] that we jumped on a team early and didn't let them take the momentum away from us," said junior forward Exree Hipp. "It was an excellent job at both ends."


Maryland seemingly set the tone by forcing turnovers on five of Wake Forest's first six possessions. But the Demon Deacons recovered by cutting Maryland's lead to 35-30 at halftime.

A three-pointer by Childress helped the Demon Deacons climb within four, 39-35, but that's as close as they got. With the Terps leading 41-37, Simpkins hit a three-point shot to start a 10-2 run and Wake Forest never got any closer than six.

"You've got to give Maryland a lot of credit, they made the plays when they had to and we didn't," said Childress, who had another tough game against the Terps, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting (three of 10 on threes) to go along with eight turnovers and seven assists. "They're a more mature team than they were last year."

Not only did Simpkins do a great defensive job on Childress, but Maryland became the first team in three years -- a stretch of 73 straight games -- to keep the 6-2 senior guard off the free-throw line.

Smith also took Wake Forest center Tim Duncan out of things early. Duncan picked up two fouls in the first 10 minutes and was not as much of a force as he's been recently, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and only two blocked shots. He also had five of his team's 19 turnovers.

"We tried to make Childress and Duncan work today, especially with the heat out there," said Williams.


Maryland also got help off its bench again, especially from reserve forward Mario Lucas. During a spurt in which the Terps opened their lead to as many as 14, the 6-foot-8 junior made two big blocks.

"I've been struggling lately and I wanted to do something to help," said Lucas, who also had six points and six rebounds in 12 minutes off the bench.

Even though his team played as well as it had all season, Williams wasn't satisfied. With more than a week off until its next game -- next Sunday at North Carolina State -- Williams hopes to smooth whatever wrinkles are left.

"We're 3-1, but we've only played a quarter of our ACC games so it doesn't mean a lot," said Williams after the Terps moved into a second-place tie with North Carolina, a game behind Virginia. "We want to take it to the next level."