COLLEGE PARK - Before they moved on to preparations for tonight's game at No. 4 Wake Forest, a humbled Maryland team arrived at Comcast Center on Sunday morning and watched tape of Saturday's 34-point loss to North Carolina, the Terrapins' most lopsided defeat in nearly five seasons.
Usually, Terps coach Gary Williams said, the players would view parts of the game, then take the court for practice.
But not Sunday. Even with the challenge of playing another top-five opponent on its home court looming in 48 hours, Williams made his team sit through the whole game, footage that might as well have been a horror movie to the Terps, before even bringing up Wake Forest.
"[There were] no positives," said Williams, whose team is 9-3 overall, 1-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. "We haven't lost like that for 12, 13 years around here. You want to get away from that as quickly as possible, but at the same time, you want to feel how that feels because you don't want to go through it again. You have to let that sink in a bit."
Tonight, the Terps, unranked for the first time this season, play an opponent much like North Carolina in terms of talent and style. Wake Forest (13-1, 2-0) has Player of the Year candidate Chris Paul, whose quickness and skills are similar to those of Tar Heels point guard Raymond Felton. Paul's backcourt mate is Justin Gray, an explosive scorer much like North Carolina's Rashad McCants.
And the Demon Deacons' answer to Sean May is physical, 6-foot-9 center Eric Williams, who is 12th in the ACC in scoring (15.4 ppg) and second in field-goal percentage (.633).
Wake Forest has won two ACC road games by a combined 54 points, and Williams sees an opponent that is quick in the backcourt and strong up front. He acknowledged that the Terps, who have used their transition game to dominate lower-level opponents, couldn't keep up with North Carolina, and it's possible they might have to win tonight's game by relying on their half-court sets.
"We are watching that very carefully," Williams said. "You have to look at your team and see if you can play the way you like to play. We have to make some adjustments and you try to do that in a short period of time. Obviously, you hope you can run with Georgia Tech, but you have to be realistic, too."
Williams certainly doesn't want the Terps to take 22 three-pointers, like they did against North Carolina, making only two. Point guard John Gilchrist is among several Terps who enter tonight's game with nagging injuries. Williams, who joked that his team is banged up more mentally than physically, said the Terps are still trying to find their game.
"I've seen some of the top teams that play their games," Gilchrist said. "We haven't found ours like we should. We're still searching."
The Terps are also searching for an identity on defense. Williams watched the Tar Heels tape in amazement as he realized North Carolina's first 10 points came on layups, including one off the opening tip. Williams said that for the first time in his 16 years, Maryland allowed a layup off the jump ball.
What followed was North Carolina enjoying a bevy of layups, dunks and open three-pointers.
"We have to play better defense," Williams said. "We've been a good defensive team over the year - we could shut some teams down. We have to prove we can do that still."
Men's AP Top 25
The top 25 teams in the Associated Press' men's college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Sunday, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and last week's ranking:
No. School Record Points Prev.
1. Illinois (58) 16-0 1,783 1
2. Kansas (13) 11-0 1,730 2
3. North Carolina (1) 13-1 1,636 3
4. Wake Forest 13-1 1,553 4
5. Duke 11-0 1,496 5
6. Oklahoma State 11-1 1,412 7
7. Syracuse 15-1 1,405 6
8. Georgia Tech 11-2 1,301 9
9. Kentucky 10-2 1,189 8
10. Texas 12-2 1,085 15
11. Mississippi State 14-2 909 18
12. Connecticut 9-2 904 10
13. Boston College 13-0 823 25
14. Washington 13-2 742 12
15. Michigan State 10-2 734 20
16. Gonzaga 11-3 723 11
17. Arizona 12-3 666 13
18. Cincinnati 13-1 631 23
19. Louisville 12-3 502 17
20. Pittsburgh 11-2 373 16
21. George Washington 10-2 370 24
22. Marquette 13-1 345 -
23. Alabama 12-3 259 19
24. Iowa 12-3 194 14
25. Oklahoma 11-2 143 -
Others receiving votes: Maryland 109, West Virginia 105, Notre Dame 47, Wisconsin 37, UCLA 23, UTEP 21, Vanderbilt 20, Arkansas 19, Oregon 18, Arizona State 17, Virginia 12, Wichita State 11, Miami 9, N.C. State 8, New Mexico 8, Ohio State 8, S. Illinois 4, St. Mary's, Calif. 4, Charlotte 3, Old Dominion 2, Texas A&M; 2, Bucknell 1, Nevada 1, South Carolina 1, UAB 1, W. Kentucky 1.
Matchup: Maryland (9-3, 1-1) vs. No. 4 Wake Forest (13-1, 2-0)
Site: Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, N.C.
TV/Radio: Chs. 54, 20/WBAL (1090 AM)
Line: Wake Forest by 5 1/2