Miami (OH) 49

(0-2, 0-2 away)

(12) Maryland 64

(1-0, 1-0 home)

    5:00 PM ET, November 24, 2002

    Comcast Center, College Park, Maryland

    1 2 T
    M-OH 21 2849
    #12MD 32 3264

    Terrapins, with four new starters, still look dominant

    COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Playing the role of defending NCAA champions for the first time, Maryland delighted the largest home crowd in school history with a performance reminiscent of its banner season of a year ago.

    Maryland's Drew Nicholas slams down two of his 16 points against the RedHawks.

    Drew Nicholas scored 16 points as Maryland (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 12 Associated Press) cruised to its 85th consecutive non-conference home victory Sunday, 64-49 over Miami of Ohio.

    The night began with the unfurling of the championship banner from the rafters of the new $107 Comcast Center. The scene obviously had an impact on Maryland coach Gary Williams, who was swept away by the moment.

    ''You never know if you're going to see that during your coaching career,'' he said. ''I was kind of caught up in it.''

    So much that he followed the ceremony with his customary pregame speech to his team.

    ''Then I remembered they hadn't introduced the players yet. So after they introduced the players, I had to give the same speech again -- and they still didn't hear me,'' Williams said.

    Perhaps it was because the players' minds were still on last year, when the Terrapins capped a 32-4 season by defeating Indiana to win the NCAA title.

    ''It felt good to see the banner come down,'' guard Steve Blake said. ''It sent chills through my body for a couple of seconds, but then I had to make myself forget about that and get ready for the game.''

    Playing in front of an emotionally charged sellout crowd of 17,950, the Terrapins (1-0) turned in a performance befitting their stature as defending national champions.

    Maryland limited the RedHawks (0-2) to 27 percent shooting in taking an 11-point halftime lead, then used a 9-0 run early in the second half to pull away.

    The Terrapins' 85-game non-conference run, which started in 1989 at Cole Field House, is the longest in the nation. Maryland also has won 19 in a row overall at home since Feb. 14, 2001.

    It wasn't a brilliant performance, but it was plenty good enough.

    ''It was a tough day, very emotional,'' Williams said. ''It was nice to get this one in. Now we get down to the business of being a good basketball team.''

    Danny Horace had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, which had the misfortune of drawing the defending champions in the opening of their new arena.

    Even the RedHawks were affected by the unfurling of the 8-by-12 foot banner.

    ''It was a great, great time for us,'' coach Charlie Coles said. ''When we get a chance to dream wildly, we dream about winning a national championship. To see the banner was beautiful.''

    Ryan Randle scored a career-high 15 points for the Terrapins, who lost four starters from the team that beat Indiana last April to claim the school's first NCAA title. But Maryland, which started five seniors against Miami, seems to have enough talent and depth to make a serious run at a third consecutive Final Four appearance.

    ''Expectations are placed on us from what happened last year, and we accept that,'' Nicholas said. ''We have to be mature about that and come ready to play hard.''

    Soon after the opening ceremony, Maryland got eight points from Nicholas in a 12-2 run after Miami took its only lead 5-4.

    It was 23-19 before Terrapins freshman Nik Caner-Medley made a free throw and Blake followed with six consecutive points, including a 3-pointer, to put Maryland up 32-21 at the half.

    Blake, the lone returning starter from last season, finished with nine points and eight assists.

    Horace opened the second half with a layup, but Maryland's Calvin McCall responded with a jumper, freshman Travis Garrison made a three-point play and Randle made successive baskets in the lane for a 41-23 lead.

    Minutes later, Randle made two free throws and banked in a short jumper to put Maryland up by 20.

    The Terrapins hope their new arena provides as much of a homecourt advantage as Cole Field House, which outlived its usefulness after a noble 47-year run.

    Whether the Comcast Center becomes a horror for visiting Atlantic Coast Conference teams remains to be seen. But with air conditioning, a modern scoreboard with television replays and plush luxury suites, the new arena is far more accommodating to fans than Maryland's antiquated former home.

    ''Tonight wasn't our best night,'' Nicholas said, ''but it was a win -- the first win in a new building with five new faces.''

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    2002-03 Season

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