Terps hit new low in loss to FSU

COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK - And you thought the previous two weeks were bad.

Fresh off losing four of five games and playing their worst stretch of basketball of the season while falling out of contention for an Atlantic Coast Conference title, the Maryland Terrapins officially hit bottom last night at Cole Field House.


The Florida State Seminoles, the previous owners of a 1-9 record in the ACC and a 6-17 record overall, took control of a stumbling, self-doubting Maryland team early, then held on for a stunning, 74-71 upset that left an announced crowd of 14,282 howling in disgust at the home team.

Maryland, which had beaten the Seminoles 10 straight times by an average of 15.8 points and had not lost to them at Cole since 1993, came up empty while losing their third consecutive game and their fifth in the last six outings.


The Terps tried something new by giving freshman forward Chris Wilcox his first career start, and he responded with a career-high 13 points. But it wasn't nearly enough to offset the spotty play of starters like Terence Morris, Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter. And it wasn't enough to overcome an inspired effort by Florida State point guard Delvon Arrington, who led all scorers with 17 points, while adding nine rebounds and eight assists.

Maryland (15-9, 6-6) trailed throughout the evening, before making a furious push near the end. Back-to-back three-pointers by Steve Blake pulled the Terps within 72-71 with 30 seconds left.

But the Terps could not come up with a critical stop with their zone defense, and Morris, whose first start at small forward was a failure, missed a wide-open three-pointer badly with 15.6 seconds left that might have given Maryland the victory.

Antwuan Dixon finished the scoring with two free throws, and Maryland officially went down after three-point misses just before the buzzer by Dixon and Drew Nicholas.

The Terps had made a recent habit of fading in the second half with poor shooting, sloppy ball handling and bad defense. Last night, they put all of those traits on display in a horrible first half, during which Florida State led by as many as 11 points by taking the ball at Maryland aggressively, forcing 12 first-half turnovers and making off with a 33-24 halftime lead.

Maryland was only in one position to take the lead after that.

"I'm disappointed in myself," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who lingered on the court for several minutes after the game, before addressing the Terps in the locker room.

"In this situation, I have to look at myself as a coach and try to understand why we don't do certain things, why our emotional level is not where it has to be to play in the ACC at this level, things I take pride in controlling as a coach."


Williams, who removed his jacket for the first time this season with about 18 minutes left in the game, also didn't take kindly to the catcalls from the student section. He voiced his displeasure to the Maryland faithful before leaving the court.

But the Terps appear to have lost control of their season. They are 1-6 against ranked teams. Four of their last five regular-season opponents are ranked, beginning with Wake Forest, where Maryland visits on Saturday.

But Maryland can't even get past the weaklings right now. Suddenly, the team that thought it would begin righting itself for a big stretch run into the NCAA tournament is staring at the possibility that it might not qualify for the NCAAs for the first time in eight years.

"This isn't the team we had last year. We have the same guys, different team," said Blake, alluding to the 25-10 squad that returned all five starters and three key backups. "Last year's team was a lot better. We wanted it a lot more."

The Terps were in a fog once again last night. They committed 18 turnovers, while Baxter, Morris and Dixon shot a combined 8-for-28. Baxter fouled out for the fourth time this season and finished with eight points. Dixon had 14 points, but missed eight of 11 shots and had six turnovers. Morris (eight points) did not score his first point until 8:35 remained in the game.

The only good things that took place were the unveiling of Wilcox and the re-emergence of Byron Mouton, who was banished to the bench after two weeks of ineffective showings. Mouton scored 11 points.


Mouton sobbed with a towel over his head in the locker room, while Morris tried to explain the latest slip by the team heading downward.

"We're in a hole right now. We felt like tonight was a new start to a 6-0 finish, but we just didn't come out with the same energy that we had for the last two days in practice," Morris said. "I just didn't get in the flow."

Considering as poorly as they played, the Terps were amazingly in position to win the game after Blake hit the back-to-back threes. The Seminoles committed a turnover, giving the Terps the ball.

Maryland called a timeout, and set up a play designed to get Morris the ball on the left wing. There he was, wide-open with 16 seconds to go. His shot barely grazed the right side of the rim.

Florida State rebounded, recovered, and dealt the Terps another harsh blow.

"The play was run right. We executed it. I had a perfect look," Morris said. "It just didn't fall for us."