COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland got the message.
The Terps played once during a recent two-week stretch, when a recurrent practice theme was making the extra pass and forsaking the jump shot. Maryland carried that lesson out of the exam break, as evidenced in a 110-52 pounding of a UNC-Asheville basketball team that isn't supposed to be that bad.
No. 20 Maryland (6-3) was impatient in some earlier losses, and center Obinna Ekezie complained about a lack of interest in working the ball inside. There were possessions last night at Cole Field House when the Terps overpassed, a problem coach Gary Williams will gladly attempt to correct.
"The coaches have really emphasized getting the ball inside the last two weeks," Ekezie said, "but the players still have to buy into it. The thing about tonight was, we did a good job of sticking with it the whole game. You start blowing out somebody, people do their own thing, but that didn't happen."
The Terps were unselfish, from the point on, where senior Matt Kovarik started over junior Terrell Stokes for the second straight game. Both had six assists, and Williams sounded as if he was ready to make that order permanent.
"The rotation is going well," Williams said. "It's something you always look at, but as long as it's going well, it's something you want to stick with.
"What I like is that it gives us depth. With Matt, you start big on defense, and then Terrell gives you a different look in terms of penetration. There are going to be times in the course of the season when we want to play both."
It's not as if Maryland had to rely heavily on its point guards in a half-court game. The worst loss in UNC-Asheville history included 37 turnovers -- the most forced by the Terps in six years -- but even when it wasn't converting a steal into an easy basket, Maryland's mission was finding the open man.
"It's going to be tough to pass the ball any better than that," said junior forward Laron Profit, whose 23 points included several dunks off lob passes to complement success on all three of his three-pointers.
It was also a big night for Terence Morris, the freshman forward from Frederick who nearly doubled his career high with 20 points. Sarunas Jasikevicius had 15 of his 17 in the first half, when the Terps made 69.2 percent (27-39) of their field goal attempts.
UNC-Asheville, which began with narrow losses at Syracuse and Tennessee, entered as the only member of the Big South Conference with a winning record. The Bulldogs (5-5) got there last Saturday with an emotional win at East Carolina, and they couldn't combat Maryland's energy and pressure.
The Terps led 10-2 after three minutes, and a pair of Jasikevicius three-pointers near the end of a 21-0 run got the cushion up to 36-7 after less than 11 minutes.
NOTE: Juan Dixon, the All-Metro guard from Calvert Hall, practiced for the first time Sunday and was surprised when Williams told him he could suit up. Dixon was the only player on the 14-man roster who didn't play, and he's not sure if he will this season.
"I want to play, but I'm two months behind," said Dixon, who didn't receive a standardized test score that would give him freshman eligibility until last month. "I'll have to see what happens in practice."
Williams said: "He can play this semester and three more years, or sit out this season and play a full four years. If we're going to play him, it's got to be pretty quick."
Elsewhere on the future front, the locker room visitors included Steve Francis, the Allegany Community College point guard who is considering Maryland.
Pub Date: 12/23/97