Terps trio cuts down ballyhooed freshmen; UM's Baxter, Dixon, Miller have game if not big names


COLLEGE PARK -- North Carolina paraded its usual array of high school All-America freshmen into rocking Cole Field House yesterday, but it was Maryland's three freshmen who walked off the court amid the roar of the sellout crowd after an 81-64 romp over the Tar Heels.

Jason Capel, Ron Curry and Kris Lang are the latest high school All-America phenoms to play in the cherished Carolina blue, but they were seeing a lot of Maryland red by the final buzzer.

That red was in the form of Terps freshmen Lonny Baxter and Juan Dixon dashing the North Carolina hopes time after time with clutch plays and freshman Danny Miller sticking a few daggers into any comeback hopes.

Dixon said: "We've all [three freshmen] played against All-Americans before we came to Maryland and are used to it. It was no big deal out on the floor, but now that it's over, I guess it was nice for us to outplay them. I know one thing we weren't intimidated."

Baxter said: "Whether you're an All-American or a walk-on, you have to be ready to play in this league. I was ready to play.

Miller, the only one of the three Maryland freshmen with a high school All-America tag, said, "This proves it doesn't matter what you did in high school. This is a whole new game here."

The 6-foot-8 Baxter was all over the court to rack up his 10 points, four rebounds and four blocks in his third straight start.

Dixon, the Calvert Hall alum, risked his slender 6-3 frame by knifing into the lane often for high percentage shots and finished with seven points and one assist in 12 minutes.

The 6-8 Miller played 11 minutes, but he was sharp, hitting two of three shots, with a block, three rebounds and two assists.

For North Carolina's All-Americans, it was a day they would rather forget.

Capel, a 6-8 wing, was playing his first game since being diagnosed with mononucleosis in the middle of January.

Capel played 17 minutes off the bench and was obviously off his game a little. Capel only attempted three shots -- all threes -- and hit one of them and was six of seven from the line.

The 6-2 Curry was held scoreless and got lit up by Steve Francis for nine points during a torrid second-half stretch. But the high school football and basketball All-America did have three assists, and two steals in 15 minutes.

The 6-11 Lang contributed eight points and five rebounds in 29 minutes, but had six turnovers.

Francis lets actions speak

It was all kind of strange.

Francis flew through the air with the greatest of ease yesterday for some more electrifying dunks on the way to a game-high 22 points along with three assists, and five steals.

He tied the third highest point total of the season for the Terps and it came against the 12th-ranked Tar Heels.

But Francis declined to talk after the game, escaping the locker room and leaving through the back door. He then showed up later in Cole Field House and still declined to talk.

Francis, who stayed away from the press in the days after an erroneous ESPN report on Jan. 24 had him ready to announce he was leaving Maryland after this season for the NBA, had been quoted after recent games.

When his teammates were asked if Francis was mad about something yesterday, they all said, "Not that we know of."

Et cetera

The honorary captain for yesterday's game was Billy Jones, who in the 1965-66 season became the first black basketball player to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He also is a former UMBC basketball coach. Maryland is 4-3 against ranked teams. No Maryland player fouled out yesterday.

Pub Date: 2/14/99

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