COLLEGE PARK -- Steve Francis said he wasn't looking for trouble just seven minutes into the game last night when he got involved in a shoving scuffle with Clemson freshman guard Will Solomon under the Maryland basket.
"I just wanted my team to know he took a shot at me," said Francis. "It was a hard foul but I don't think he tried to hurt me. I was able to get up and walk away without being hurt."
Moments after the incident, Francis could be heard telling the officials that Solomon took a shot at his head as he drove the lane for a layup after a steal by the Maryland junior.
Solomon was overhead telling the officials that Francis responded by driving him into the basket support.
However, Clemson coach Larry Shyatt didn't wait around for explanations of what happened between Francis and Solomon.
Shyatt stormed onto the court and got in the middle of the confrontation, a move that earned him a technical foul and surprised a lot of people.
Solomon was called for a personal foul on the play and also drew a technical foul for his part in the incident.
Terence Morris took the four free throws from the technical for Maryland and hit three of them to give the Terps a 16-8 lead.
Shyatt said, "Maybe I was wrong, but I thought it was in my place to go out on the floor to prevent a fight. I saw my center Tom Wideman getting close to [referee] Larry Rose and I wanted to stop it."
But five minutes later, Shyatt still wasn't acting like a man who wanted a lot of peace.
He kicked the scorer's table and yelled an obscenity in the direction of Francis after a Maryland timeout.
"Shut up," said Shyatt.
Shyatt admitted after the game he was wrong in yelling at Francis.
"Unfortunately I made an error by saying something to Steve," said Shyatt. "Steve and I just got wrapped up in the emotion. I talked to him after the game and straightened everything out."
Francis agreed that he and Shyatt had cleared up their differences.
Solomon was also mostly talking peace after the game.
"Steve held on to me after I fouled him hard," said Solomon. "There was nothing personal between us.
"I was trying to stop Steve from having an uncontested layup on the break. There has been no bad blood between us in the past and I don't think there will be any in the future."
The ironic thing about the Francis-Solomon duel is that Maryland recruited Solomon and was going to sign him if Francis decided to go to the pros instead of attending Maryland.
Clemson point guard Terrell McIntyre also was not happy early in the second half. He became incensed over what he thought was a hard foul by Maryland's Terrell Stokes on Andrius Jurkunas.
McIntyre was called for a technical foul when he protested loudly after Stokes stripped the ball from Jurkunas.
McIntyre presumably felt that Stokes took an unusually hard shot at Jurkunas, possibly in retaliation for the shot Francis took to the head from Solomon.
Injured Maryland senior Obinna Ekezie isn't exactly having a string of good luck these days. His mother, Ada, watched her first game at Cole Field House last night in Ekezie's four-year career and her son could'nt play because of a torn Achilles' tendon. Ada Ekezie was at the game for Senior Night. Baltimore tennis pro Pam Shriver attended the game at Cole Field House.
Pub Date: 2/25/99