SAN ANTONIO - Maryland suffered through its worst three-point shooting game of the season and its second-worst performance from the field last night, as Michigan State continued the work that knocked off second-seeded Florida in the second round.
The Terps made just two of their 16 attempts from beyond the arc, 12.5 percent. Their previous low had been 20 percent in the win over Miami of Ohio that christened the Comcast Center. The hardest miss to take was the last one, as Steve Blake had an open look from the top of the key that wasn't that close.
"When we got the ball with 4.7 seconds left, I still thought we were going to win," coach Gary Williams said. "I thought Steve was going to make it. When it left his hand, I thought it was going in."
Maryland ranked among the nation's 10 best in three-point shooting coming into the game, with both Blake and Drew Nicholas having made more than 42 percent of their attempts. Nicholas was 1-for-7, Blake 1-for-5.
"Obviously, they really play good team defense, but there were some open looks," Nicholas said. "Some of those in the first half were with the shot clock running down. In the first half, we were a little impatient."
The Terps made just 20 of their 54 attempts from the field, and Blake will rue one of the misses. Asked about the shot he missed in the open court after a second-half steal, he answered with a snappy comeback.
"Thanks for bringing that up," said Blake, feisty until the end. "I thought I was going to get up higher, but my legs weren't there and I wasn't able to get above the rim."
Undaunted, Blake recovered to get his own rebound.
Milking some memories
The thousand or so Maryland fans at the Alamodome thought they were having a flashback during the South Regional semifinal between Texas and Connecticut last night.
The Longhorns got a game- high 27 points from junior wing Brandon Mouton, who was 10-for-18 from the field and serenaded by a chorus of "Moos" with every jump shot he made.
A similar chant was heard the last two years at Cole Field House for Byron Mouton, the small forward who helped the Terps to an NCAA title. Brandon is from Lafayette, La., the same neck of the woods as Byron, but the two are not related.
"Mouton was out there working on his shot all day yesterday [Thursday] and at shoot- around today," Texas center James Thomas said. "We knew something good was going to happen from the kid today. It was real important for us, because he was hitting his threes, going to the line, and taking it to their big men."
The South Regional semifinals and final are a dry run for San Antonio, which will hold the 2004 Final Four. It last held the Final Four in 1998, when Kentucky beat Utah in the final.
Dino Mattesich is here on business, not pleasure. The former Maryland lacrosse coach and Towson University administrator is an associate director of athletics at Connecticut.
Maryland and Michigan State had one previous meeting. On Dec. 29, 1955, the Spartans handed the Terps their third straight loss at brand-new Cole Field House.