7:00 PM ET, January 22, 2003
Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Maryland's five senior starters had 456 college games and a national championship among them coming into Wednesday night's game. That experience showed against a young North Carolina team.Drew Nicholas scored 20 points and Steve Blake added 17 as the Terrapins (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) beat the Tar Heels 81-66, their first conference road win.Ryan Randle added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Terrapins (11-4, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won for the third straight time in the series. The defending NCAA champions beat the Tar Heels twice last season by an average of 24 points.The Terrapins handled this year's Tar Heels (11-6, 2-2) by dominating inside, controlling the glass and playing aggressive man-to-man defense. They outscored the Tar Heels 42-20 in the paint and had a 45-35 rebound advantage.They held the Tar Heels to 35 percent shooting and blocked nine shots to avoid any letdown after upsetting then-No. 1 Duke on Saturday."We looked at this as our next big test,'' Nicholas said. "Obviously our test on Saturday was to beat the No. 1 team in the country. Now we came in here with the focus of getting a road win. We were able to do that, and now we just have to keep pushing.''Both teams came into Wednesday's game with plenty of momentum. The Tar Heels upset then-No. 6 Connecticut 68-65 at the Smith Center on Saturday.But Maryland used two first-half runs to take a double-digit lead and answered several spurts by the Tar Heels in the second half with momentum-killing baskets."I thought we did a good job preparing for this game after our win Saturday,'' Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "Carolina plays with a great deal of emotion. They're young guys and they just won't quit.''Rashad McCants scored 26 points to lead North Carolina, which started three freshmen and two sophomores, while Jawad Williams added 18.Maryland used 16-2 and 11-0 runs in the first half to take a 37-20 lead. The Tar Heels rallied, scoring the last seven points of the half to pull to 39-31. Raymond Felton continued the run in the second half, hitting his first four shots after going 1-for-8 in the first half.His 3-pointer from the right wing pulled North Carolina within 41-39 with 17:04 left, ending a 19-4 run spanning halftime.But the Terrapins took advantage of their size inside, going on a 14-2 run. Maryland scored 12 points in the paint, the first four coming on drives from reserve John Gilchrist. Randle added a jumper in the lane and a tip-in.The Terrapins also controlled the glass, taking a 10-2 edge during the spurt as the Tar Heels missed eight of nine shots."We dug ourselves a hole in the first half,'' said Felton, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists. "It's hard to come back on a team like that. We did, and they made another run again.''Twice the Tar Heels closed within 10 points only to see Maryland answer with 3s on its next possessions. They pulled to within 61-53 on a dunk by Williams, but the Terrapins got an inside basket from Tahj Holden and a fastbreak layup from Randle to kill the rally."When you go on the road, you just have to play your game,'' Blake said. "You can't let the crowd take you out of it, make you take quick shots and things like that. When the crowd gets really loud, teams tend to force things. We did a good job of not forcing things when the crowd got loud.''North Carolina fell to 4-3 without freshman Sean May, a 6-foot-8 center who has been sidelined with a broken foot since late December."I think we gave all the effort we could give,'' McCants said, "and we just came up on the short end.''