Terps get back to business

THE BALTIMORE SUN

COLLEGE PARK -- It has happened three times this season. To Massachusetts in December after its victory over Arkansas. To North Carolina State last month after its win at North Carolina. And earlier this week, to George Washington after its upset of Massachusetts.

In these cases, the afterglow of beating the nation's No. 1 team was extinguished with back-to-reality defeats in the team's next game. The Minutemen lost to Kansas on a neutral court. The Wolfpack lost to Virginia at home. The Colonials lost to St. Bonaventure on the road.

Now it's Maryland's turn, to either build on Tuesday night's 86-73 upset of lame-duck No. 1 North Carolina or come crashing down today at Cole Field House against much-improved Florida State.

The eighth-ranked Terrapins are aware of what has transpired. Maryland coach Gary Williams jotted those examples down on his practice ledger earlier this week, then reminded his team of them when the players headed back to practice Thursday.

"Hopefully, the players will be able to put it behind them," Williams said of the win over the Tar Heels, the team's first in three years and the program's first over a No. 1 team in nine seasons. "It's easier for the coaches. The players are reminded of it walking around campus. For me, you play one and get ready for the next."

In Maryland's favor is the schedule. The Terps didn't have to wait too long, as happened to the Minutemen when they beat the Razorbacks in the season's opener and then didn't play the Jayhawks for more than a week. Nor did they have to come back after practicing only once, as George Washington did against St. Bonaventure.

It didn't hurt Maryland's mental preparation for this game that Florida State (11-8, 4-6 in the ACC) upset No. 11 Wake Forest, 69-67, in Tallahassee on Wednesday night. Maryland (18-4, 8-2) also remembers last month's 70-57 victory over the Seminoles, a game that wasn't decided until the last couple of minutes.

"It's good that Florida State won [Wednesday night]," said Williams, whose Terps are tied with the Tar Heels for first place in the ACC. "That will get their [the Maryland players'] attention."

This game shouldn't be a gimme. The Seminoles took Virginia into overtime a week ago in Charlottesville. Aside from senior guard Bob Sura, who comes in needing one point to reach the 2,000 mark for his career, Florida State has two of the best young players in the league in sophomore guard James Collins and freshman center Corey Louis.

"I'm sure the players will remember those nine blocks [by Louis], because a lot of our shots were flying back to midcourt," said Williams.

Said sophomore forward Keith Booth: "They have a lot of talent and we know it's going to be a tough game. It'll be a matter of which team plays hard for 40 minutes."

Though another sellout is expected, it seems unlikely that the crowd will reproduce the atmosphere of the past three home games against Duke, Virginia and North Carolina. It seemed to get louder each game, reaching a feverish pitch for most of the night against the Tar Heels.

"I think the crowd will be hyped because of Tuesday's game, but it will be our job to get them in the game, not their job to get us in the game," said junior guard Duane Simpkins, coming off a 21-point, seven-assist performance against North Carolina.

The Seminoles are hoping for a letdown by Maryland. They are also hoping to do a better job of containing sophomore All-American Joe Smith, who dominated down the stretch in the first meeting and scored his team's last seven points, finishing with 18 points and 18 rebounds.

"He's been a tough matchup for us because of his quickness and versatility," Florida State coach Pat Kennedy said. "We've got to do a better job holding him down."

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