COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland Terrapins have had little in the way of adversity this season: no injuries on the court, no sniping in the locker room, not even a parking-ticket controversy to make their minds wander.
And, most significantly, there have been few defeats from which to rebound.
So it will be interesting to see how seventh-ranked Maryland (17-4, 6-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) comes out for tonight's 8 o'clock matchup with North Carolina State (9-9, 1-8) at Cole Field House, given that the Terrapins will be trying to end their first two-game losing streak of the season.
Will they come out flying, or will they come out flat?
Though coach Gary Williams said he isn't quite certain how they'll react, he knows that his Terps won't take the Wolfpack lightly. Williams, who has kept his players off-limits to the media the past two days, said that Saturday's results took care of any possible letdown.
"Now that they beat Clemson, that certainly got our players' attention," Williams said yesterday, referring to N.C. State's 54-52 win Saturday over the then-No. 8 Tigers and its first ACC victory this season. "But they had our respect before. That was a difficult game down there for us."
Despite its record, N.C. State doesn't make it easy for anybody. The Wolfpack leads the country in scoring defense, holds teams under 40 percent shooting and, with the exception of a 20-point blowout at Florida State, has been in nearly every league game.
"We feel we should have won at least a couple of those games," senior forward Jeremy Hyatt said yesterday from Raleigh. "I look at it as being poised, as making big shots at the end of the game and making big stops on defense."
One of those the Wolfpack believe got away was the one last month against Maryland. After building a big lead early, then eventually falling behind briefly, the Terrapins got some big plays from senior forward Keith Booth down the stretch to win, 68-59.
Asked what the difference was in the last few minutes, first-year N.C. State coach Herb Sendek said yesterday: "I don't know if we did anything to take them out of their offense down the stretch. I do know that Keith Booth was able to take his game to another level."
Booth has done that for stretches in the past two games -- the first 25 minutes before getting into foul trouble in Saturday's 74-69 loss to second-ranked Wake Forest, the last 12 minutes in Wednesday's 74-70 defeat at Florida State -- but the Terrapins haven't done it as a team.
In the loss in Tallahassee, Maryland tied the score at 65 after being down 13, but gave up a three-point shot and stopped going to Booth inside in the final minute. In the loss to Wake Forest, Booth missed a drive against Tim Duncan with 10 seconds left and a chance to tie the score.
"It was a tough week for us," said Williams. "But the positive has been that we've been able to hang in there and had a chance to win when we haven't played our best. The thing is you don't want to get down. You've got to keep things in perspective."
Williams is realistic enough to know that two-game losing streaks happen in a league as tough as the ACC, which this week boasts four teams in the Top 10 and five in the Top 20. With the exception of the Demon Deacons, each team in the league has gone through a similar stretch.
"Every team goes through peaks and valleys within the league," he said. "You take some hits and you have to recover."
Maryland hopes to begin the recovery process tonight.
Pub Date: 2/05/97