Terps scorched

The Baltimore Sun

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - It would have taken a near-flawless performance for overmatched, undersized Maryland to beat third-ranked North Carolina on its home court for the second season in a row.

Unfortunately for the Terrapins, it was the Tar Heels who appeared to reach for perfection last night, hitting 11 of their first 14 three-point attempts to begin a 108-91 victory.

North Carolina's torrid early shooting placed Maryland in a bind from which there was no escape.

How were the Terps (14-8, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) to defend inside on 6-foot-9 Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina's all-time scoring leader, if the Heels connected on shot after shot from beyond the arc?

There simply was no Maryland answer - not with Wayne Ellington, who scored a game-high 34 points, and Danny Green each converting four of their first five three-point attempts and Ty Lawson going 3-for-3 at the start.

"I think our defense wasn't ready to play," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who mixed some zone defense into the game plan along with man-to-man. "We played a bad first half defensively, and it really cost us."

North Carolina (20-2, 6-2), which won its sixth game in a row, came close to the all-time record for points scored by a Maryland opponent. The mark of 114 was reached twice - most recently by North Carolina State in 1991.

Through it all, the Terrapins could find some positives.

Maryland seemed determined to get out and run - and run it did. The Terps pushed the ball upcourt early and often, and the transition game seemed to suit them.

This was a better Maryland performance by far than the last time the Terps ventured into the state and lost, 85-44, at Duke on Jan. 24.

Maryland shot 55.6 percent in the first half last night, a percentage the Terps will take every time. But still they found themselves trailing 60-44 at halftime. Maryland shot 48 percent for the game.

The Terps got a big boost from forward Cliff Tucker, who didn't play in the team's last game, against Miami. He played just one minute in the game before that, and fans and the media had begun to wonder why he was on the bench.

Last night, Tucker scored a career-high 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting. He was unavailable for interviews after the game.

Greivis Vasquez, who scored 13 points, said the media had blown stories "out of proportion" about Tucker's supposed benching.

Said Williams: "He got a little bit behind this year after the start of the season, but after what he did tonight he has certainly pushed back into the rotation."

Maryland also got a career-high 19 points from freshman Sean Mosley.

"We knew it was going to be tough playing here," Mosley said. "We've just to get out and fly around more on defense."

But the Terps were ultimately done in by North Carolina's three-point shooting.

Last season, North Carolina shot 7-for-23 on three-point attempts as Maryland upset the Tar Heels here, 82-80. The Terps were led then by James Gist and Bambale Osby.

Gist and Osby have graduated, and North Carolina - determined to erase the image of Osby rolling on the Smith Center floor in celebration - shot much better this time around when it counted most.

The Tar Heels finished 16-for-25 on threes.

yield sign

North Carolina's total last night ranked among the most points ever scored by a Maryland opponent:

Date .......... Opponent .......... Score

2-10-90 .......... Duke .......... 114-111

2-27-91 ..... N.C. State ........ 114-91

12-20-78 ... N.C. State .... 124-110-x

1-8-05 ... North Carolina .... 109-75

3-1-78 ...... N.C. State .... 109-108-x

2-3-09 .... North Carolina ... 108-91

x-Maryland victories

MARYLAND (14-8, 3-5) @GA. TECH (10-10, 1-6)

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